Toronto Life (monthly lifestyle and fashion magazine)
Featured and recommended in “Toronto Life Annual Eating & Dining Guide” every year since 2000
Mezzeta (October, 2002)
While the tapas craze has yet to gain a solid foothold here, the Middle Eastern tradition of mezes—small shared dishes—finds expression across the GTA. This St. Clair West hot spot features eclectic décor that ranges from framed portraits of jazz greats and vintage Hollywood stars to maps of the Mediterranean, wall-mounted pistols and ornate scabbards.
Weapons notwithstanding, the effect is a welcoming and the friendly, efficient service adds to the pleasant ambience. Pricing is based on the number of guests, with five selections suggested for each (two get 10 selections for $28). More than 40 mezes—salads, dips, veg, meat and fish—are available, and the restaurant helpfully provides pencil and paper so diners can jot down their choices, or once can simple leave it up to the chef. Highlights include a fresh, flavourful tabbouleh, smokey baba ghanouj, Morrocan carrots with chickpeas in a piquant mint sauce and a simple dish of sautéed button mushrooms in a garlic vinaigrette. Special mention goes to Sultan’s Stew—formerly known as Egyptian Mush—a deeply savoury blend of sautéed eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, green peppers and onion. Indeed, the vegetarian dishes provide some of the most exciting offerings, but beef sambusak impresses with tender, crisp puff pastry that houses moist ground meat. Homemade vine leaves with minced beef and basmati rice are also excellent. Three desserts ($4.25), each with its own appeal. Reconstituted Turkish apricots bathe in orange blossom water, gilded with fresh whipped cream and whole roasted almonds. Beirut Baklava boasts a heady cardamom flavour, while crème Bavarian gets a splash of Triple Sec and drizzle of choc syrup. Affordable wine and beer. Wednesday nights feature some serious jazz with well-known local players. $75
681 St. Clair Ave. W. October, 2002 Toronto Life
Runner-up for Toronto’s best Middle Eastern restaurant (Oct. 2002).
Recommended and selected among the best restaurants in Toronto (Jan. 2006).
Toronto’s Top 25 cheap restaurants (Apr. 2005).
Review to follow:
Mezzeta (April 2005)
681 St. Clair West, at Christie.
Specializing in the Middle Eastern tapas known as mezzes, this one low-key take-away has evolved since it opened in the early 90s into a casual hacienda decked out with showbiz memorabilia. Bonus: live jazz Wednesdays from 9 pm. Double Bonus: Monday dinner, every second dish is a buck (with a limit of 15), and Tuesday dinner they’re a toonie; weekdays at lunchtime all vegetarian items are $2. Warning: as the sign on the wall map of the Mediterranean Sea advises, “Refrain from touching the map!” Best: from the card of more than 40 mezzes, the house Evergreen Salad of romaine, spinach, coriander, parsley and walnuts in light vinegary vinaigrette; somewhat sour Mezziki—cubed cuke in yogurt, recalling Greek tzatziki and India raita; garlicky Egyptian mush, and olive-oily purée of garlicky tomato, eggplant and green pepper suggesting Italy and Thailand; menu-described “exotic green beans” turn out to be crinkley Chinese long beans dusted with dill in lemon dressing; to finish, Crème Bavaria, vanilla custard laced Triple Sec, topped with toasted almonds and chocolate syrup. Complete meals for $25 per person (lunch $12), including all taxes, tip and a domestic lager.
Average main $4/$3. Open for lunch Monday to Friday noon to 2:30 pm, for dinner Monday to Thursday 5 to 10:30 pm, Friday and Saturday 5 to 11 pm, Sunday 5 to 10 pm. Licensed. Access: four steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
Selected as “Best in the Village” (Forest Hill) for 8 years in a row.
“Best place to take a dip for the past 7 years” (Sep. 2004) “Best in small doses for 8 years” (Oct. 2005)
Reviewed and selected among the top ten budget-priced restaurants in Toronto. (Jan. 2003)
“A funky little boite with Middle Eastern tchotchkes, wood beams and warmth to spare. Mezzetta serves Middle Eastern appetizers. My top ten are: Red Goat, exotic green beans (crisp fried but mysteriously ungreasy green beans generously flavoured with onion garlic, and dill), Eggplant garlic (eggplant pureed with enough garlic and vinegar to replace sex’n’love), Lamb Shish (succulent skewered little lamb morsels, perfectly cooked), ditto chicken and swordfish skewers. Beef Sambousak (delicately spiced, minced beef wrapped in feathery ungreasy puffy pastry), Falafel (the usual deep-fried, ground chickpeas but less greasy than usual). Fried eggplant (for grease lovers only—thin slices of crunchy deep-fried eggplant), herbed eggplant (piquant eggplant vinaigrette)”
by Joanne Kates. (top food critic) Jan. 2003 Village Post Magazine