Yorkville is having a bit of a moment these days. The super swanky neighbourhood has always been home to some of Toronto’s best restaurants and bars, but with a recent influx of new condos and retail, Yorkville is hitting it’s peak. INK Entertainment saw this trend coming, naturally, and with nearby properties like La Société and Estia nearby, it only made sense to give them a new sibling. Enter Sofia, the sexy Italian stunner that is already turning heads on Yorkville Ave.
Part bar, part restaurant with not one, but two patios, the space is nothing short of breath taking. Collaborating with well known art gallery Taglialatella Galleries secures this space as not only a destination worthy venue for dinner, but also for the art itself, the works of some of the greatest modern artists of our time will guarantee staring problems while you have your head on a swivel, with works from Banksy, Mr Brainwash, Russel Young and many more esteemed contemporary visionaries competing for your date’s gaze. The space is big, but it works, there’s some PDR style spaces flanked by art, a mystical all white baby grand piano with a large goblet for ushering in tips, a sexy side bar for Bar Manager Nishan Nepulangoda (arguably one of the city’s finest) to shake and layer his deluxe offerings. It was all parceled from Moroco Chocolates and the adjacent plaza that housed them. It’s virtually unrecognizable now.
Clearly plating must be pretty to hold your attention, but that’s not an issue for the talented Executive Chef Christine Mast. Groomed for this job from her years at Canoe, Christine has taken the task to heart, curating a collection of dishes that are familiar, she’s not trying to reinvent the (Parmigiano-Reggiano) wheel, but she is reworking dishes that are classics and making the best use of ingredients, and techniques, and a wood burning oven doesn’t hurt either.
A bread program, naturally, is a safe start, but best paired with the seasonally inspired Carpaccio ($19), with sunny figs, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano and hits of peppery arugula. While the caviar menu may speak to some, the Insalata Ligure ($24) with Ahi tuna may strike a good compromise. Their version of the classic niçoise dish brings yellow and green beans together with whole olives, hard boiled eggs and tender lettuces.
Heftier plates like the Garganelli Al Pesto ($24) make for a great share pasta, but seems like it is missing the protein for the price. The Fettucine ($42) fares better, decked out with perfectly cooked lobster, chunks of summer fresh tomatoes and hits of heat from chili peppers. All the pastas are made in house, an undeniable source of pride for the team, who is also hand mixing Zeppoli dough as part of their dessert program.
Lighter lunch bites include the fire kissed pizzas, stradled with generous side salads. Pizette con i Fiori di Zucca ($22) is a summer fantasy, bedazzled with farm fresh zucchini and showy zucchini flowers, the pizza is blistery in all the best ways. Ricotta cheese marries perfectly with the chewy and crispy dough.
Whole fish is a Yorkville staple, it showcases the restaurant’s butchering abilities, and here, Chef Mast is known for her skills in that department. Cleaning the fish carefully to ensure a boneless experience is key to this Branzino ($39), as is the subtle seasoning, of which Chef wisely pares down to basic elements, top quality olive oil, earthy oregano and a squeeze of fresh lemon serve supporting roles to this sea bass dish, allowing the whole fish to steal the spotlight.
No detail is too small here, so when espressos arrive decked out with velvet saucers it barely registers a surprise. It’s all part of the experience, an unexpected nod, a formal note to a sweet finish.
Sofia is open in the heart of Yorkville, at 99 Yorkville Avenue. Make a reservation via Open Table or by ringing them at 416.479.8974.
Thanks to Sofia for having the Auburn Lane team in!