Sherman's Food Adventures: Italian Tomato

Italian Tomato

Sometimes, with all the new restaurants opening up, we are caught up in trying the latest and greatest.  This happens constantly, so it is difficult to remember the ones that have been around for awhile.  It is especially true when they are not located in the most obvious areas, such as Downtown, Commercial Drive, Main Street and Alexandra Road in Richmond.  Taking over the spot that used to be Dem Bones, Italian Tomato occupies an odd spot ever since they rerouted Bridgeport Road and Sea Island Way into one-way streets.  Hence, if you miss the entrance and the immediate street afterwards, it'll be a big loop to get back.

We met up with Costanza and family for some eats prior to the Starry Night event at Deas Regional Park.  We decided to share 4 large pastas picking one from each section beginning with the red sauce in the Spaghetti Bolognese.  This was a gigantic portion with a tangy (in a tomato paste kinda way) thick sauce that was meaty. It wasn't a classic bolognese and a bit one-note though.  The pasta was al dente though and there was plenty of flavour.  We also added Meatballs for another $6.00 and they were fairly large.  They were accompanied by a similarly tart tomato sauce that was equally flavourful.  The meatballs themselves were far too mushy in texture for our liking though.  We would've preferred some semblance of a natural meatiness and a bite.

In the cream sauce section, we decided on the Milano with Italian ham, mushrooms and peas.  We chose linguine as our pasta and it was firmly al dente.  This was a good match for the rich sauce and ingredients as it was hearty enough.  This was plenty garlicky with enough seasoning to match.  The saltiness of the ham combined with the Earthiness of the mushrooms and sweet pop of the peas created layers of flavour and textures.  The sauce itself was rather heavy though and it was hard to eat too much of it. For our EVOO choice, we had the Mamma Mia featuring baby shrimp, baby clams, baby scallops and prawns in a garlic olive oil white wine clear sauce.  Again, the pasta was appealingly firm, but the flavours were mild except for the amount of garlic.  Despite the abundance of seafood, there was a lack of brininess.  Furthermore, the pasta was too dry and clumped up easily.

Our favourite pasta of the meal was the Marco Polo in the rose sauce section.  It sported diced chicken breast, baby shrimp, spicy Italian sausage and mushrooms in a spicy tomato sauce with a touch of cream.  Due to the zestiness of the dish, we chose the robust and al dente penne which stood up well. There was a low-rumbling spice that was accented by equal parts of tang and creaminess.  The chicken was quite dry, but the sausage was meaty and also spicy.  This dish had quite the impact from first bite to the last.  We added 2 pizzas as well including the basic Quattro Formaggi with mozzarella, bocconcini, provolone and feta.  Featuring a thin crust that was crispy at the edges and not soggy in the middle, it had a good mouth feel.  It was also very cheesy as advertised.

Our second pizza was the Alla Romana with pepperoni, smoky bacon, ham and mushrooms.  Since this featured 3 types of meat, it was more salty than the previous pizza.  Furthermore, the pepperoni added a touch of spice while the mushrooms did its woodsy thing.  Despite the amount of toppings, the crust did not significantly soften, hence it stayed flat when we picked it up.  Overall, Italian Tomato did the job despite some hit and miss items.  The prices were fair for the portion size (not sure why anyone would order half sizes at only $2.00 less) and the kids were left happy.

The Good:
- Large portions
- Fairly attentive service
- Low key setting

The Bad:
- Hit and miss
- Not the most easy to get to spot


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