Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ciao Wine Bar - Toronto, ON

Raspberry Bellini
One of my closest friends who I met in high school and have been friends with for well over ten years had recently (well, relatively recently) relocated to Toronto. I hadn't seen in him for over two years and the weekend was an excellent time to finally catch up with my old friend. He suggested that we meet at Ciao Wine Bar, a personal favourite of his for business meetings and drinks alike. As he had a late lunch meeting with his company, we decided on a late-afternoon meeting for some drinks and dessert. Ciao was located in Yorkville, one of the most suave and expensive neighbourhoods in Toronto, and it definitely had the décor to match. Ciao was a large restaurant featuring an upper and a lower dining area (but not exactly two floors). It had light wood tables with dark wooden chairs and a nice tungston-tinged mood lighting; I could definitely see why Ciao would be an ideal choice for large corporate meetings.
As we were fairly satiated from our adventures at Noodlefest and my friend had already eaten, we settled on a few drinks to kick of the conversation. I ordered one of my favourite cocktails, a Bellini, while my companion and my friend settled on a gin and tonic and an Italian Long-Island Iced Tea. The drinks came out fairly quickly and we all settled into jubilant conversation. My Bellini arrived in a tall champagne glass with wine-soaked berries floating daintily at the top. I was mildly disappointed by my Bellini, in part because I was hoping it would be of the slushy variety they served at Milestone's or Moxie's, which have always been my favourite drinks (yes, judge all you'd like). In addition, although the actual alcohol content in the Bellini was fairly low (it is a fairly girly cocktail after all), the cocktail was very one note and tasted simply like a very strong rosé. The berries, while it added a nice touch to the overall presentation, did not add any fruitiness (or any taste really) to the drink itself. My companion's Italian Long-Island Iced tea, similarly had a very strong taste of scotch (or at least it tasted like scotch), and was not at all similar to the long island tea my companion and I were accustomed to. For us, the drinks were definitely a disappointment. However, their wine selection is quite extensive (and very impressive), and my friend mentioned that their wines are quite lovely, so perhaps Ciao would still be a good option for those of you who are wine buffs. 
Dark Chocolate Baci Bomb
Compared to both the dinner and wine menu (both extremely extensive by any standards), their dessert menu is quite small, featuring only five items. For my dessert, I decided on the Dark Chocolate Baci Bombe with Hazelnut Praline. My companion, despite his mild intolerance of dairy, could not resist going with the Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake with Caramel Raspberry Sauce. The Baci Bombe was actually quite good and featured a dark chocolate-crusted chocolate on top of a delightful wafer cooker. The chocolate itself was the perfect amount of sweet, which I appreciated as I am not a fan of the overly-sweet milk chocolate. The dark chocolate crusting also had the perfect amount of bitterness which balanced out the sweetness of the cake. The highlight of the dessert was definitely the wafer, which had both a salty and sweet caramel component and really unified the whole dessert. Despite the excellent flavours, the dessert definitely was a bit on the heavy side and could have used a bit more "fruity" flavour in some sort of sauce or possibly some whip cream to lighten up the dessert.
Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake
Despite the fact that I detest cream cheese, cheesecake has always been one of my favourite desserts. (I only found out cheesecake was made from cream cheese a year ago and was mind blown!). I was a little hesitant to try my companion's ricotta cheesecake, as I am not a huge fan of ricotta cheese. Ricotta cheese is a whey cheese, which essentially means it is made from the liquid leftover from straining cheese curds (sounds kind of gross, right?). The ricotta cheese, however, definitely did not disappoint. It had a nice and light texture, likely from the ricotta. It was very minimally sweetened, and thus the natural sweetness of ricotta was able to shine through, unlike most other cheesecakes. The caramel and raspberry sauce added a mild saltiness which both contrasted and complimented the cheesecake well. Definitely my favourite of the two desserts.

Ciao Wine Bar is a large yet cozy restaurant; it provides a large enough space for larger parties, but an intimate enough environment to hold good conversation. The service was definitely more attentive than most restaurants I've been too (then again, I was in Yorkville after all) and I could see it being an excellent venue for business meetings. However, the drinks were a little disappointing, and while the desserts were good, they were by no means the best desserts I have ever tried. For a price tag of $44.50 (not including Ontario's ridiculous 14% HST tax) for my companion and I, I'd definitely have to think long and hard about just "dropping in to Ciao for some drinks and desserts."



2.5/5 Erics'

Ciao Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

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