By Amy Sanderson
Torontonicity was invited to attend Levetto’s Launch party at their new location on College Street on February 27, 2015.
The frosty cold February night was brought to a warm garlicky embrace when my guest and I stepped into the warm Italian kitchen of the new Levetto Restaurant at College and Dovercourt kitty corner from the YMCA. It’s a great location – steps away from Toronto’s Little Portugal. Slightly hipster location. One might think they have a lot of nerve opening an Italian resto in the Portuguese hood, but so far, all the folks in the neighbourhood are fans.
We met some local patrons while enjoying the tasty food prepared for us. The kitchen is situated near the back, so naturally this is where everyone was congregating, waiting for the next delicious dish to arrive. The aroma wafting through the smaller space was probably what my Italian grandmother’s kitchen would smell like on a cold winter day (if I had an Italian nonna). Seating was limited to built-in benches along the walls since they wanted to ensure there was enough space for the launch.
One caveat: the door. It kept opening, and not closing fast enough! The door woman was trying her best to keep up with the foot traffic, but it was a losing battle. My guest and I kept our coats on for the second half and were much more comfortable. I can’t imagine how annoyed I would feel if I was sitting at a table near that door. We suggested to the owner they follow a popular Montreal quick fix, which is to put a rubber curtain in front of the door creating a nice little second entry to keep the warmth in. They said they would look into it. The décor is minimalist-modern. The colour scheme is an orange-black-white palette, which complements the food well. (Note: The colour orange has been shown to stimulate appetite!)
We started our evening with a lovely rustic chianti, which seemed to go well with the pizza we sampled.
Our first pizza taste was the spicy Salsiccia – a sausage topped gem with olives.
Next we tried the Verde, a fresh tasting vegetarian slice with basil pesto, cherry tomato, caramelized onions and a sprig of baby spinach for a tart balance to the onions. Three sizes are available, the personal which is a tasty four piece treasure ($7-$8.50), the share which is about six pieces ($12-$16) and if you’re seriously hungry, the group size, which is about 10 pieces ($24-$31).
The pizzas were all absolutely delicious, but then we tried the pasta. Mamma mia! First came the Cavatelli – a gnocchi with a pea pesto topping – just wow. This was simply delicious.
The Pomodoro didn’t disappoint with the fresh tomato, olive oil, basil on a slightly al dente rigatoni (tube pasta). All pastas are homemade then boiled slightly per order. The freshness of the food makes it unforgettable. I kept eating even though I was uncomfortably full. It was just that good.
We had an opportunity to say hello to Mike Harris’s son, named, what else, Mike Harris. He is a manager at the Waterloo location and thoroughly enjoys his job.
This is the fifth location making the total soon to be six (one is opening soon in Burlington). We were happy to meet both the co-owner, Kamiar Zahedi (Kam) and the head chef Shahir Massoud. Of course the story of how these two came together is interesting. They both have financial backgrounds, but were lured into the food industry for their own reasons. Shahir has made it his goal to create a delicious simple Italian cuisine. Kamiar used to loan money to food franchises when he worked at a bank. He was drawn to the industry by his burning desire to do a better job at franchising a restaurant. He strives to create a local dining experience with quality food – it doesn’t feel like a franchise; this feels like your place.
Thank you for the opportunity to sample your delicious menu at your newest location. I will definitely be back.
This Levetto Restaurant at College and Dovercourt is located at 940 College Street. Hours are Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.