Four months ago, my friend Janice relocated to Toronto. She came back to visit last week, and, craving some good ol’ Alberta Beef, asked for a steakhouse recommendation for our gathering. As the group had yet to try Bistecca, the newest addition to the Sorrentino’s family, it seemed like a good choice.
We met there on Wednesday night. It was a quiet evening in the restaurant, with only half a dozen tables occupied over our entire stay. I was the first of our party to arrive, which gave me some time to admire the décor and soak up the ambiance. The black/white/red colour palate reminded me of Caffe Sorrentino interiors, but with the addition of carpet, plush banquets and high-mounted mirrors, the space had a modern sophistication a cut above its coffee house cousins. The floor-to-ceiling windows also helped dispel the myth that steakhouses must be cavernous and dimly lit. I really appreciated the interior, and had high hopes for the food.
The menu provided better range than a typical steakhouse as well, with Italian-inspired dishes such as panzanella and seafood fritters, which would satisfy even those not wishing to partake in heavier entrees. Annie ended up going that route, ordering a risotto cake and bison Carpaccio, while the rest of us chose dishes from the steak menu (most which are accompanied with the day’s potato and vegetable). It is worth noting that Bistecca sources some of their meat from local farms – Spring Creek Ranch and Crystal Creek – and prices were more reasonable than I expected, ranging from $26 for a duo of flank and flat iron steaks to $85 for a 32 ounce Porterhouse for two.
Parmigiano-Reggiano risotto cake with shaved smoked duck, Morello cherry, berry peppercorn oil
While none of us were floored by our selections, most of us enjoyed our meals. My order of braised Spring Creek Ranch short ribs ($28) was pretty generous, fully de-boned, and necessarily tender. The fat-to-meat ratio was also less than I’ve usually encountered, without significant detriment to flavour. I didn’t take to the polenta cake underneath, however – stringy and tasteless, I could have done without it.
Beef tenderloin (6 ounces, $32)
Marinated steak duo (flank and flat iron steaks, $26)
The only really egregious error that occurred that night was with one companion’s “Bistecca” (a 14 ounce rib-eye, $37), which had been prepared medium-well instead of the requested rare. The server apologized for the error, and had a replacement steak prepared promptly.
Service wavered a bit, as our waiter had a tendency to disappear when we needed him most (such as informing him about the overcooked dish). Still, our experience was mostly positive, and as a result, I wouldn’t mind returning to Bistecca in the future if I had a craving for steak served in an elegant but comfortable dining room.
2345 111 Street
Monday-Thursday 3-10pm, Friday-Saturday 3-11pm, Sunday 4-9pm