Save the Last Bite – Chiaro

Fine Italian dining is often forgotten among the greasy pizza joints, heaping spaghetti and meatballs and creamy scoops of gelato.  But Chiaro will transport you to a small bistro in Italy along cobblestone paths.  Owner and Executive Chef, Domenic Chiaromonte has not only succeeded in traditional Italian flavours, but has managed to combine that with highly aesthetic presentation.  His dishes are truly a work of art; colourful, flavourful, bold and modern.

Walking into Chiaro, one could immediately notice the rustic elegance that Domenic has managed to create.  The open kitchen adds a warmth and comfort that other fine dining establishments tend to lack.  Domenic himself wears a warm smile that reflects through his eyes as he preps for a catering order he has the next day.  We sit at a table and take a look at the menu.

The first course is a platter of his most popular appetizers: baby lamp chops served atop mushroom caramel and polenta garnished with parmesan and basil, a sushi-style arancini with prosciutto and cheese alongside a simple garlic tomato sauce for dipping and a mix of crisp artichokes, red onions, rapini and parmesan. Blog2

The lamb chops were cooked to perfection for those of us who appreciate a little bit of red in their meat.  Tender, moist and lightly seasoned, the lamb was perfectly complimented by the mushroom puree. The polenta was crisp on the outside, and slightly dry on the inside, however, the basil sauce on top added a bit more flavour and moisture.  The arancini, otherwise known as rice balls, was where you could start to see Chef Domenic’s innovative approach.  Rather than a traditional rounded ball, this gourmet arancini is cut sushi style, little round discs of rice encompassing the meat and cheese in the middle. The bite size factor definitely helps make sure every bite is just as flavourful as the last.Blog3

For the main, I had opted for their seared ricotta gnocchi mixed with a sundried tomato sauce and topped with a Cornish hen as my company for the afternoon ordered the funghi di bosco salad with a side of chicken.  The gnocchi was soft with a little crisp on the outside that eliminates that soggy, doughy gnocchi I’ve come across way too often.  The sundried tomato sauce added an extra roasted flavour compared to your average tomato sauce which only complimented the lightly seasoned hen on top.

The salad was a combination of arugula, crispy oyster mushrooms, parmesan and an aged balsamic dressing.  Although the ingredients were fresh, the mushroomBlog4s added an extra saltiness that seemed to overpower the flavour of the dressing.  The chicken, however, was perfectly seasoned and moist that even eaten on its own was delicious.

Oh, and I should mention that all dishes were served with a garnishment of edible flowers, adding to the en vogue theme Domenic has reflected in his food.Blog1

The service was the right balance of attentive yet not too overbearing.  Food was prompt and attention to detail was very much appreciated.  If you’re craving Italian but prefer a more elegant experience that your average trattoria, Chiaro is the perfect spot.  Conveniently located near the 400 and Langstaff, we’re sure you will leave here much more than impressed.

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