Obika Mozzarella Bar recently opened in Brookfield Place (located across from Marche) at Bay and Wellington. I first heard of the restaurant from my parents who both visited this Italian restaurant chain when visiting Rome last Fall. When they read in the newspaper that it had arrived in Toronto they suggested I visit. The reviews around town had been a bit, “Comme Ci, Comme Ca,” so was looking forward checking it out for myself.
I visited the restaurant with my friend Vanessa after we watched food porn documentary El Bulli: Cooking in Progress at TIFF Bell Lightbox. The star of the menu is Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP which is flown into Toronto fresh from Italy every two days.
Fritti – a trio of deep fried treats
arancini, spicy fried bread, fried buffalo mozzarella
Rughetta e Bresaola
cured beef, oranges, arugula and fennel
Mozzarella Tasting Plate featuring 3 Cheeses
classica, affumicata (smoked), stracciatella di buratta served on spinach with cherry tomatoes and olives
Obviously the fried appetizer had to be ordered (love everything “DF”). They were served with a smoked tomato jam which was loverly. The salad was ok, we both commented that it was so simple we could easily have made it at home and therefore fell onto our “not so memorable list.” I was excited for a bit of fennel action and unfortunately the raw fennel didn’t bring too much of a liquorice kick (I barely tasted it). It would have been great if they had braised or fried the fennel and topped it on the salad warm (imagine the aroma)!
The star of the show (and the reason you should be jotting this spot on your to do list) was the phenomenal cheese plate. We slowly ate each plump offering of Mozzarella and were so pleased we couldn’t speak. We just closed our eyes and smiled silently. Unfortunately the dish wasn’t without its flaws. The salad below was dressed without vinaigrette. I would have been so keen to actually consume my greens (but wasn’t adamant about stuffing raw spinach into my mouth). The spinach for the most part went to waste. Obviously one needs excellent bread when eating massive amounts of cheese. The sour point for me here was that the bread was tough and stale. I do understand that Italians like their bread unsalted and with a texture I often find disagreeable. I also understand that bread lovers regularly fight over the French VS Italian offerings. I was hoping a Mozzarella Bar would have really spent a good deal of time and energy ensuring their bread was top-notch. Instead I was underwhelmed and even a bit irritated that the bread was so borderline stale and mediocre. Perhaps it was just because I was eating on a slow Tuesday night? If you visit and the bread is excellent please do tell me so I can sit at my computer vexed (and a bit jealous).
The wine list is exemplary and they offer several entrees which I didn’t have the stomach for that evening. I highly suggest visiting Obika if you are downtown or in the Theater District looking for an antipasto style meal mulled over with good company and a glass of wine.