Jamie Oliver is opening his first Jamie's Italian Restaurant opens in Toronto on Sunday December 6th, 2015 but I got a special preview tasting invite from my fellow Food Revolution Ambassador, friend Denise, owner of Petits Chefs Academy in Vaughan to join her and her staff for lunch at Jamie's Italian at Yorkdale Mall today. The restaurant is training it's staff this week and they have invited a few people to sample the food and give them feedback and get their staff used to the menu and the operations of the restaurant.
The staff are extremely exhausted as they have been working night and day training and getting things ready for the official opening on the 6th. Appropriate date for the 6ix don't you think?
The sign out in front of the restaurant isn't up yet but there is a huge photo and sign at the side beside the entrance to the mall. The interior is completely ready and is gorgeous and spacious. With the bright teal blue bar seats contrasting the rustic wood interior, the 2 story feels both warm and airy with the light spilling in from the large storefront windows. We were seated at the back near their pasta making station which doesn't have natural light so my photos are a bit yellow from the lighting so it doesn't do the food much justice so you will have to take my word for it that it looks much better in real life.
The staff are both exhausted and excited for the opening. They are all very friendly and accommodating. Denise and I briefly spoke to Jamie's partner Chef Rob Gentile of Buca and Bar Buca and the person responsible for making sure that the restaurant runs at Jamie's standards. We also met Chef Francisco and the General Manager who were all interested in feedback to make sure they get everything right before the general public walk in the door.
There were 5 of us there to sample some of the menu and we decided to all pick different things so that we could all share and try a lot of different items on the menu. We pretty much ate about 75 percent of the menu I think.
Some of the things we tried included:
- Rabbit Cassarece
- Fried Polenta,
- Shrimp linguine
- Pear and Prociutto salad
- Mushroom Fritti
- Chicken puttanesca
- Steak and frites
- Jamie's Italian sausage Tagliatelle
and we demolished the whole dessert menu of:
- Sorbetto Gelato
- Panna Cotta with Blueberry and raspberry sauce
- Lemon Meringue cheesecake pie
- Extreme Brownie with ice cream and popcorn
My favourite dishes were the Chicken puttanesca with a great smokey flavour. I didn't try the Arancini but they looked good. Jamie's Italian Sausage Tagliatelle had great flavour too.
My favourite dessert was the Extreme Brownie which tasted kind of like a flourless chocolate cake. Not too sweet but full dark rich chocolate flavour. I also really liked the Lemon Meringue pie.
Denise pretty much inhaled the Affogato so I think she liked that too.
There were a couple of menu items I would have liked to try but they had sold out already but I hope to return to try some other things in the new year.
They are still working out the kinks of a new restaurant and are extremely focused on getting quality control right at this time and they want to have everything perfected by the weekend. They have 150 staff who have been working really hard during the training period and I hope they all get a bit of rest before the opening because it's going to be an extremely busy place. It's pretty much the best restaurant choice at the mall and as Chef Gentile put it he has been eating at the food court during the building process and he is really happy that the restaurant is finally up and running.
Jamie's Italian Canada is located beside the Crate and Barrel at Yorkdale Mall (Dufferin Street) in Toronto, Canada. It's the first Canadian restaurant chain for Jamie Oliver.
I don't think Jamie will be around for the opening as he was just in town recently but the staff are all pretty excited at the fact that he might show up at any time when he comes to town.
*Disclaimer: Our meal was complimentary but all of the opinions and photos are my own.