It appears that Mark McEwan reads Chowhound. Fabbrica launched a new menu Saturday night and the much-criticized $3 charge for bread has been dropped. The menu has been tweaked as well with some of the more exotic items gone (no more sweetbreads) and prices lowered a bit as well. We had made reservations weeks ago and decided to go ahead despite the tepid reviews the place has received on this board and in the Toronto press. I’m glad we did. The food was very good and after a bit of a rough start, the staff went out of their way to make the evening enjoyable. When we first arrived they wanted to seat us in the bar area. We politely but firmly requested a table in the main part of the restaurant. After initially being told it would mean a wait of at least 30-40 minutes they found us a nice table within 10 minutes while we sipped on cocktails at the bar. After that the service couldn’t have been better. Our engaging waitress kept a keen eye on us reporting on progress of dishes and making sure my wine glass was never empty for more than 30 seconds. We started with fried smelts and Berkshire prosciutto. The smelts were fantastically fresh (although a little too aggressively salted) however the prosciutto (while nicely presented) lacked any distinctive “Berkshire” flavour that would have made it stand out from a regular breed. The wood-fired oven was evident in the perfectly cooked lamb sausage and fennel pizza we shared. The dish is marked on the menu as a “chef’s favourite” and justifiably so. Although the menu was brand new, we were told the “bistecca for two” was unavailable. While my wife went ahead with an individual striploin, I opted for another “chef’s favourite” in the braised short-rib which turned out to be one of the best braised rib dishes I have ever enjoyed. Portion sizes are quite generous so by this point we were too full for dessert and finished the evening with a couple of lemoncellos (which would have been better in chilled glasses.) Fabbrica is still far from perfect. Mark McEwan still needs to figure out if the restaurant is to be a dining destination in Don Mills or a trendy hangout serving $20 pizzas to twenty-somethings. However, I can confidently report that the restaurant is back on track after its shaky opening.
----- Fabbrica 49 Karl Fraser Road, Toronto, ON M3C0E5, CA