I was recently in Toronto to celebrate my daughter’s grad. She had reserved a place for dinner far ahead, but got last minute doubts. Like me, she takes where to eat very seriously. Scrambling last minute to find a good place to eat proved difficult. There were a ton of new places on the newly released Top 100 Restaurants in Canada list that looked like fantastic candidates, but unsurprisingly, they were all fully booked.
As I continued to search, I found a place with high ratings and space for 5. Could it be too good to be true? Due to a lack of options, I booked it – Carisma. The website describes it as “one of Toronto’s Best Italian Restaurants. Lets see.
The interior was gorgeous. Modern and clean. Here was the menu for the evening:
Service was good. There was an Italian gentleman taking care of us who was very knowledgeable about Italian food and wines. He helped us select a great bottle. So far so good. They brought some bread to start:
We ordered a few appetizers to start:
The appetizers were good. Everyone was excited for the next courses. The scallops were especially delicious. Then came the pasta and fish:
This is where everything fell apart. We ordered 3 pastas: a wild boar ragu, veal ravioli, and the lasagna. All were no good. To start, the sauces looked like they were shared across all three dishes, and they were not good sauces. I saw and tasted a lot of canned tomato. There was no depth to the sauces. Mind you, the base sauce for lasagna and ragu are similar, a Bolognese, but the sauces in these two dishes were far from a good Bolognese. The main flavor was canned tomato. I did not get any hints of sweetness from the mirepoix, wine etc. They didn’t even offer fresh Parmigiano Reggiano! I don’t know what happened here, but for an Italian restaurant to fail so horribly in pasta is unforgiveable. Many in our party even felt that the ravioli was frozen. There was clearly some disconnect between the appetizers and pastas. The fish was meh too.
We finished the disappointing meal with dessert:
Overall, I don’t know why this restaurant has such high ratings. Maybe they had an off night and did not prep enough sauce. In that case, an establishment taking pride in its food would 86 the item rather than throw something together subpar. In any case, its definitely not worth the $ and I would not return.