Alimento on King

Posted by Dani on February 17, 2012

My friend Cathy and I stopped in to check out the new Alimento on King West. Opened since November, this grocery and restaurant space provides a lot of food options for the downtown crowd. Stop in at the espresso bar at the back like we did for a nice cappuccino and biscotti to start your day, or grab some lunch at the long marble mozzarella bar. Drop in after work for a glass of wine and pick up some delicious takeout for an easy dinner. Alimento is a one-stop downtown shop to meet all your gourmet Italian food needs.

Now, I have to preface this review by saying I am a pretty hard sell when it comes to delicious Italian food. I was lucky enough to be born into a family of talented cooks who spend most of their time obsessing about creating delicious meals. These people think nothing of growing 800 plants of garlic, after hunting all over Mennonite country for the right planting stock. Or building their own outdoor wood fired oven based on the dimensions of some legendary oven back in the old country that produced the most amazing bread. All they talk about is food.

Sadly, I did not inherit this gene but I do benefit from the frequent deliveries of freshly-made delicious food that miraculously arrive on my doorstep, donations from my family who obviously feel a little sorry for me. So while I can’t make it, I can sure taste it, and commercial Italian food really cannot compare to the kind that comes out of the kitchen of an Italian mother with cooking in her genes who expresses her love through her food. No restaurant can ever really make pasta that compares to my mother’s or my aunt’s, and I have never had a tiramisu better than the one I get at home.

Given all that, it’s great when you find places that come close. I think Alimento offers something unique in the King West area. You could find similar foods at a lower cost in other parts of the city, but this is an easy and delicious alternative for the downtown crowd. Italian food tends to be a perennial favourite, and you will find lots here to choose from.

The grocery store offers a large selection of deli meats, cheeses (including homemade burrata and fior di latte), antipasti, and olives, as well as all the Italian pantry staples including premium olive oils and balsamic.

We loved the bulk station for their house olive oil, at $11 per 75o ml bottle or $9.50 for a refill (my friends Cathy’s verdict on the oil: very good).

There is a lot here to take home and enjoy – fresh pastas, sauces, sides, and other prepared dishes like polenta with sausages. The bakery is run by Forno Cultura and offers a large selection of breads, cookies, biscotti, and mini desserts-to-go in a jar. We sampled and loved their mosaic biscotti, amaretti bianchi, and apricot crostata. The also had a selection of gluten-free cookies for those who like this option. Their mini Italian birthday cake in a jar is next on my list to try!

Over in the restaurant section, there is a good selection of pastas, pizzas, focaccia sandwiches, and salads to try as well as other secondi including rib-eye and branzino. Many of these are available as quick grab-and-go items.

We sampled one of their house favourites – the Brussels Sprout Salad. I couldn’t imagine that a raw brussels sprout salad would be anyone’s favourite, but I was so wrong. Crunchy with a mix of flavours, this salad is addictively delicious and tops my list. Luckily Canadian House and Home published the recipe in their March issue, and I’ll provide it here for you. Or if you’re in the area, drop in and let chef Fabrizio DeCicco make it for you!




Alimento’s Brussels Sprout Salad
from Canadian House & Home, March 2012

Serves 4

10 slices of pancetta (about 2 mm thick)
4 oz. (approx.) Piave cheese (or Parmigiano-Reggiano if unavailable)
1 medium-sized Mutsu apple
3 dozen Brussels sprouts
½ cup caramelized pancetta vinaigrette (see below)

Caramelized Pancetta Vinaigrette
1 shallot, peeled
1 tsp grainy mustard
2 tbsp honey
½ reserved pancetta fat
1 cup cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups olive oil
1 tbsp chopped chives

1. Bake pancetta on parchment-lined baking sheet at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes. Reserve ½ cup fat for dressing. Place all dressing ingredients except olive oil and chives in blender, and blend on high until smooth, slowly adding oil until emulsified. Add chives and mix by hand. (Store extra dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.)
2. Shave cheese into long, thin curls using a vegetable peeler. Cut apple into matchsticks using a mandolin or sharp knife. Shave Brussels sprouts into very thin (about 2mm) slices using a mandolin or sharp knife. Toss all together in a bowl until well mixed, then add just enough dressing to coat.


Have a look at some more pics here:

[uds-billboard name=”Alimento”]

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