Thursday, December 1, 2011

Queen's Pasta Café in Bloor West Village

Queen's Pasta Café is a Bloor West Village institution that has been serving freshly made pasta to a dedicated clientele for more than two decades. With a charming awning-covered outdoor patio in the summer, this pretty little restaurant at the corner of Bloor St. West and Durie, is also a welcome haven, particularly on a chilly winter evening. As night falls, a fountain of twinkle lights drape the front windows, framing a pair of festive amphorae detailed with ornament-trimmed boughs — a warm invitation to the cold and hungry fortunate enough the get a table in this popular Bloor Street restaurant. The backdrop of small candle-lit tables, congenial staff and extensive pasta offerings, makes it understandable why Queen's Pasta Café has been an intimate part of the Village landscape for over twenty years. 

Queen's Pasta — an intimate space with friendly service and delicious pasta 

Wine specials are highlighted each night

A large blackboard above the bar announces the restaurant's daily specials and seasonal wine recommendations, which this evening featured a 2008 Grazano Chianti Classico plus many other wines by the glass. We decided on a bottle of Prosecco to start the evening from our waiter Matt, who brought us a plate of delicious Bruschetta with Roma Tomatoes and Asiago Cheese, for us to share, compliments of the house. 

Our waiter Matt brought us some delicious Brushetta — compliments of the house

With over sixteen entrées to choose from, there's something for everyone. In addition to the popular favourites, which include Angel Hair pasta tangled up with moist smoked salmon, tomato dice and dill in a light vodka-infused cream sauce, the menu also features Black and White Fettuccini served with grilled tiger shrimp, black olives, fresh tomatoes, garlic, tossed in olive oil and asiago cheese, Ricotta Gnocchi which is tossed in a gorgonzola tomato sauce with portobello mushrooms, Penne a la vodka served with red onion, bacon and fresh tomato and Butternut Squash Striped Agnoloti served with grilled vegetables tossed in a sun-dried tomato pesto olive oil.

Angel Hair pasta with smoked salmon, diced tomatoes and dill in a light vodka-infused cream sauce

Penne a la vodka served with red onion, bacon & fresh tomato

Butternut squash striped agnoloti served with grilled vegetables 
tossed in a sun-dried tomato pesto olive oil

If you prefer to make your Linguine Alfredo at home, no problem. There's Queen's Pasta Take-out, which is located just around the corner from the restaurant on Beresford, and carries an enormous variety of fresh pasta and homemade sauces — all made by their parent company, Queen's Pasta Products. QPP sells over 100 types of pasta that they ship to restaurants and hotels around the world. Two large chalkboards on the walls list all the fillings, shapes, flavours and sizes from which to choose, from 5 kg boxes of Mixed Cheese Tortellini, Spinach and Cheese Agnoloti, and Sicilian Gnocchi to sauces like Porcini Cream, Black Olive Pesto and Roasted Red Pepper. They've even started a line of low carb pasta. With orders over $150, they deliver anywhere in the GTA, which makes it very convenient to cater your own pasta party without making you 'Pazzo' — crazy.

Chicken with Cashew Linguini
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Queen's Pasta

1/4 cup raw cashews
2 medium whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 tbsp soy sauce 
1 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
1 large green pepper
1 large red pepper
1 cup fresh mushrooms
1 lb of Fresh Linguini

Roast cashews by placing in a 300°F oven, until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cut the chicken into 3/4 inch strips and marinate in soy sauce, sherry and cornstarch. Halve the peppers, remove membranes and cut into strips the same size as the chicken. Slice mushrooms in half.

Place pepper and chicken on an indoor or outdoor grill, and cook until grill lines appear. Flip, add mushrooms to the grill and finish cook time. Once fully cooked, remove from grill add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, wrap chicken, peppers, mushrooms and cashews in tinfoil and place in oven at 250°F. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and a dash of salt. Cook pasta to desired texture. Drain water and place back into large pot. Stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.

On warmed deep plates place pasta. Remove foil from oven and turn over a few times - this will allow the marinade to mix. Remove contents from foil and place on top of linguini. Pour the remaining marinade sparingly over the linguini, and serve with your favorite Chardonnay.

Queen's Pasta Café