I recently was invited for a preview/tasting of Malena’s Spring menu. The name Malena was inspired by the movie (starring Monica Belluci) and the cuisine is reflective of the ingredients that surround the Ionian Sea. The Ionian is the body of water that lies between Italy and Greece and hence the concept of the two partners who own Malena: of Italian and Greek descent.
The food at Malena offers an interpretation of the cuisines of Greece and southern Italy using fish from the Mediterranean, local purveyors and offered in an environment that’s homey (century-old home), immaculate service and able to cater to intimate dinners or groups up to 40.
On this evening, it was my pleasure to bring along my friend Diane Kochilas (chef, Greek cookbook author, columnist), who was in Toronto and I was eager to show her some of Toronto’s vibrant restaurant and entertainment scene. It was also wonderful to see my other friend, chef and TV personality Christine Cushing in attendance and I immediately introduced the two ladies to each other. They immediately hit it off and the evening was off to a great start!
Our server asked us to choose one of the four main course on offer. Seeing as how I was seated with Christine & Diane, we strategically ordered different dishes so as to sample more of the entrees. Diane ordered the seared branzino (lavraki in Greek) fillet with fennel, rapini and a white anchovy vinaigrette.
There also was a Berkshire pork chop on offer and I believe only one person out of many seated at the table ordered it. It seems many are opting for lighter fare. Myself, I ordered the sheep’s milk gnudi (ricotta gnocchi) with braised rabbit and crisp parsnip. The gnudi were tremendous – light and delicious!
Throughout the evening, we were drinking Sigalas Assyrtiko from the jewel of the Mediterranean, Santorini. Malena’s sommelier Zinta Steprens was also on hand and it was wonderful to chat with her and see that she was so passionate – especially when it comes to Greek wines.
Up next was dessert: a trio of desserts! We were served a glass of Moscato sweet wine from Limnos and out came the cannoli, Greek Loukoumades and wonderfully refreshing lemon meringue tarts in phyllo cups.
134 Avenue Road, Toronto
120 Avenue Road, Toronto
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