Restaurant review: Ovest

Ovest's new menu refines authentic Italian cooking in their home away from home setting on King West


What's the vibe?

A trip to Ovest begins with a walk down a short flight of stairs that lead to a huge open space which walls lined with more Italian wines than you could ever dream of. Jackpot, and you haven’t even sat down yet. Ovest Cucina e Vineria translates to 'kitchen' and 'wine cellar' in Italian, so it seems appropriate. The 120-seat setting is industrial but comfortable, with an exposed wood-fired oven amidst the open kitchen, similar to that of a traditional Italian trattoria. The majority of the staff originate from Italy and pride themselves on making all guests feel welcome and at home. Whether it's through a glass of prosecco on arrival or the general manager recounting tales of his life in Rome while seating you, the motto ‘la mia casa è la tua casa’ resonates strongly here.

What to drink?

The restaurant offers a curated selection of cocktails but with a wall of wine, it’s all about pairing, pairing, pairing. Treat yourself to a glass of prosecco to start with (if you're lucky, it's on your table upon arrival) before tapping into the extensive vino offering. Tip: All bottles are half price on Thursdays. If you insist on something not off the wall, we suggest the Aperol Royale; a blend of Aperol, Cointreau, pink grapefruit and tonic. The perfect hit of refreshment.

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What to eat?

There's not a lasagne or carbonara in sight here as it's all about locally inspired dishes here that you won’t see on every other Italian menu in Toronto. New Executive Chef Danylo Mielnik has applied creative twists to traditional Italian items, like the Caprese di Tonno: raw albacore tuna, local mozzarella di bufala, basil pesto and crispy capers. The Tartar di Manzo, a beef tartare with quail eggs, arugula, parmigiana and shallots offers something a little heartier, well-paired with their own home-made bread. For the main course it’s all about the seared Merluzzo, or Cod to us English speakers. Pair this with the Lamanero Trefontane Primitivo from the Puglia region for an extra hit of Italiano. Cin cin!

Dinner and drinks for two: around $170

788 King St West; 416-214-6161,