Situated on a quiet, maturely treed one way street in Cabbagetown, F'Amelia restaurant has been dispensing Northern Italian inspired dishes using local produce for the past half dozen years. Before that, Provence Delices used to operate out of this location.
Founded and owned by John Dawson and Todd Vestby, F'Amelia is located at 12 Amelia Street, just off Parliament Street between Wellesley and Winchester Streets. The name of the restaurant is a play on the street name, coined by Dawson's wife, with an "f" attached to it to sound like "family."
Divided into an inside eating area, an outdoor patio and a private cellar dining room, F'Amelia can accommodate up to 120 guests at any given time. Dark wood flooring and tables and chairs give the space a really rustic feel, while the lighter coloured walls and artistic accents offer up a nice contrast.
Large picture windows across the front let in plentiful natural light, while an imposing dark wood bar area stands between the diners and the kitchen at the back. An enormous 3700-pound maple and applewood burning pizza oven, imported from Naples, is a dominant feature of the establishment, and can apparently cook up a pizza in 90 seconds flat.
F'Amelia, like the name implies, has a homey and welcoming atmosphere. You quite literally feel like you've been invited over to a friend or family member's place and are having drinks, and/or a meal there. The open concept with the front patio flowing into the enclosed dining room made the whole premises airy and bright. Classic rock music was playing softly in the background, adding to the welcoming vibe this place has.
Scrumptious bread baked in house with a small saucer of olive oil was a great way to whet my appetite for what was to come. While Summerlicous was on and they had a dinner menu devoted to it, I decided to order from the regular menu. The Calamari from their Antipasti section was first on the list. It is pan seared with asparagus, green peas, pancetta, roasted cipollini onions and fregola for $16. While I thought the calamari was good and well prepared, the supporting food around it was a little salty for my taste. Perhaps they could tone it down a touch. Some people may like this saltiness level, but alas, not me.
Other items on the Antipasti section included the Chef's choice Zuppa del giorno (soup of the day) ($12), the Arugula salad with balsamic vinaigrette and Parmigiano shavings ($9), the Curly endive and radicchio salad with grapes, walnuts and fresh apples in a clementine dressing ($15) and the Beet caprese, blue cheese, toasted pecans, fresh basil and EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) ($16).
For my main course, I elected to try one of their pastas; the Papardelle (a large, broad, flat pasta noodle) with thyme and rosemary braised rabbit, oyster mushrooms, black kale and finished with breadcrumbs for $24.
Apparently appropriated from one of the executive chef's mother's recipes, it was quite delicious, and the term papardelle derives from the word pappare meaning to "gobble up." I most certainly did, and I hope the table manners my Mom taught me remained intact in the process. Definitely a great recommendation from my waiter. Thanks Steve!
While the Tiramisu was tempting, I opted instead to try the Red wine poached pear with pistachio mascarpone, grapefruit and fresh mint for $10. It was excellent with the right mix of fruity taste, sweetness and tartness. Quite a fine end to the meal.
Since I was driving, I had the Limonata ($3.50), which went quite well with everything I ordered. There was also plentiful water in my glass at any given time. I also had a rich and flavourful Americano ($3) to go with my dessert.
F'Amelia has a great cocktail section and each cocktail is 2 oz. and costs $13. With names like Blueberry Bubbles (house infused blueberry Beefeater, fresh lemon, simple syrup and fresh mint), Agrodolce rhubarb (house infused strawberry Stolichinaya, aperol, rhubarb syrup, rhubarb bitters and prosecco) and Kiwi margarita (El jimador, Grand marnier, orange syrup, kiwi puree and fresh lime), you'll be sure to find one to your taste.
They also sell wine by the glass and by the bottle. They pour sparkling and rose, white and red wines for you, ranging in price from $9 to $20 per glass and $46 to $295 for the bottle. Wednesdays are "Winesdays," with bottles of wine $100 and up being 50% off. Beer is also available; they have Peroni (by the bottle) for $6.50 and Side Launch Mountain Lager (by the can) for $7.25. Whiskey ($11-18), Cognac ($11-16), Port ($8-18), Grappa ($10-16), Amaro ($9-12) and house-made Cellos (an Italian liqueur) ($8) are also available during or after your meal.
While I did not try it this time, Salumi is their Chef's specialty, and they offer two choices; the chef's choice of 3 salumi/terrine and 2 cheeses with flat bread sesame grissini, pickles and condiments for $20, or his choice of 5 salumi/terrine and 3 cheeses with flat bread sesame grissini, pickles and condiments for $8 more.
Their appetizers range from $9 for the Arugula salad with balsamic vinaigrette and parmigianino shavings, to $16 for the Calamari or the Beet Caprese, blue cheese, toasted pecans, fresh basil and EVOO.
Their pizza menu offers up nearly a dozen different pizzas; everything from the Diavola (crushed San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte, spicy soppressata, fresh red hot chilis, basil and evoo) and the Ortolana (roasted garlic, spinach, goat cheese, roasted zucchini, cherry tomatoes and roasted red peppers) on the lower end of the price scale to the Abruzzese (crushed San Marzano tomatoes, caramelized onions, ham, fior di latte, wild mushrooms, fennel sausage and parmesan) and the Cacciatore (wood oven roasted chicken, fennel sausage, San Marzano tomatoes, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and fior di latte) on the higher end. Pizzas range in price from $14 to $19.
F'Amelia also has a wonderful pasta section, as one might expect. You can get the Oven baked Lasagna (with hearty rosemary braised beef with San Marzano tomatoes and a rich bechamel) for $20 up to the Ricotta gnocchi (with roasted eggplant, spinach, black olives, cherry tomato and pecorino in a spicy tomato sauce)for $24. Their desserts, or dolce section, offers up several intriguing sweets to bring your meal to a close. Everything from Tiramisu to Red wine poached pear with pistachio mascarpone, grapefruit and fresh mint to Vanilla custard with fresh berries and crumbled pecans in a cocoa tart shell to Lemon Brulee tart with a seasonal fruit compote can grace your palette for $10.
The service was good as always, although when I got there I was seated on the patio without being asked if I wanted to sit inside instead. As it was a nice day, not a big deal but the choice would have been welcome.
Otherwise, Steve was very friendly, attentive and brought my food and took away the empty plates in a decent amount of time. His recommendation of the Papardelle with rabbit for my main course was also much appreciated.
I left F'Amelia feeling quite satisfied. The red wine poached pear dessert was a great way to finish off, and would be worth going back just for that. Otherwise, besides the Calamari that was a little too salty, everything was quite good.
F'Amelia is open from 5pm to 10pm Monday to Sunday, and is open for brunch on weekends from 11am to 2pm. Their pizzas are available until 11pm on Friday and Saturday. Reservations are recommended.
Gift cards are available online through anycard.ca or directly from the restaurant. F'Amelia can also accommodate your next personal or corporate event. You can reach them at 416-323-0666 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. They are also on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Instagram.