Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fact or Fiction: Hidden Gems

There's been two ideas surrounding restaurants and I haven't come to decide which one I believe more yet. Either:
1) restaurants that look old and "rustic" are the places that house the really good food
2) restaurants that look old and "rustic"..... not so good food

well, I hope to debunk this through my food adventures ....

So first place I went to try this.... Mastro's Ristorante, an Italian restaurant near Yorkdale Mall and it fell into "restaurants that look old and rustic and not so good food". Boo...

Mastro's Ristorante
890 Wilson Ave
North York, ON M3K 1E7
Neighbourhood: Downsview
(416) 636-8194
Mastro's Ristorante on Urbanspoon

  • Large rooms, suitable for group or more intimate settings
  • Romantic decor, complete with dim lighting and white cloths
  • Food did not match the price (about $20/plate) or fancy decor though - I actually had a hard time finishing my food
  • Would not come here again

    "The review said it looks run down on the outside, so look for a run down restaurant!"
    "But they all look run down..."

    My hopes went on a roller coaster on this day. I started with hope that this could be a hidden gem due to mixed reviews on food review sites. I had more confidence when I stepped inside the restaurant. It had black and white photographs on the wall, dim lighting, and white tablecloths. The menu also looked decent. The food ranged ranged from $15-$30, so I expected fairly decent food. My only suspicion was that most of the pasta dishes didn't have meat in it. $17 for just pasta and sauce....better be some really good pasta and sauce. But as the dishes came out, my hopes sank and sank.

    Appetizer: Carpaccio di Salmone ($9.95)

    Carpaccio is basically thin slices of raw meat, brushed with olive oil. I tried the Beef Carpaccio from BLD restaurant downtown this past summer, which was really good, so I wanted to see how this place made theirs. What we got was really slimy tasting slices of smoked salmon. I feel like it should have been served much colder, but it came kind at room temperature, which made it even harder to eat. It tastes like a very slimy smoked salmon. I'm going to have to try this dish again at another Italian restaurant that I think highly of already to know if it's supposed to be made like this, or if Mastro's just prepared it poorly. Either way, my taste buds weren't too pleased and I wouldn't recommend you to order this here.

    Pasta del buon Gustaio ($18.95)

    Their description of this dish: "Mastro's own specialty. A delightful mixture of short pasta, fresh vegetables, shrimps and chicken." It tasted like, someone had pasta, broccoli, and some leftover chicken, and poured a can of tomato sauce over it. There was nothing special about any part of the dish nor was there any sort of complexity in the flavours. Definitely not worth $18.95

    My Manicotti Granati as served ($11))

    I was interested to see how they would make a pasta crepe dish, but when it came, I was a little disappointed because it just looked unappetizing. The manicotti was thin but too little compared to the amount of ricotta cheese in it. It's like eating a sushi roll with only rice inside. By the third roll, the taste of cheese was really thick, the sauce was too tangy with tomato flavour, and the crepe too thin to meld the flavours happily into my melt.

    Inside my Manicotti Granati

    To be fair, I'll give Mastro's points for having fresh ingredients.
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