Monday, October 5, 2015

Trattoria Nervosa: Italian Cuisine in Yorkville

In southern Italy, it’s a daily custom to gather around the table and enjoy a wonderful meal with family and friends; to take the time to laugh, love, share in good company and savour deliciously simple recipes made from the very finest of ingredients. Located in the heart of Yorkville, this is what Trattoria Nervosa is all about, serving authentic northern and southern Italian-inspired cuisine in a relaxed and inviting setting, with an inspired menu featuring their famous Insalata di Cavolo Nero, sumptuous pastas such as the Mafalde ai Funghi with portobello, oyster, porcini and crimini mushrooms with parmigiano and truffle paste in a light cream sauce, and selection of blistered wood-fired pizzas. Although the restaurant has had a loyal following from the day it opened over 20 years ago as Café Nervosa — named after the coffee house on Frasier — owner Janet Zuccarini felt it was time for a reinvention of the brand that would put the restaurant on par with some of her favourite casual comfort spots in New York, London and Rome. The new identity, inspired by Zuccarini's old family photos, reflect the welcoming atmosphere of the restaurant. Unlike many of the other restaurants in the neighbourhood, Trattoria Nervosa is a place where you can get a delicious meal at a great price.

Exterior of Trattoria Nervosa in Yorkville

Sandblasted-style logo on front door

A chilly autumn evening on Trattoria Nervosa's outdoor terrace 

Neon sign on the wall of the outside terrace

Nervosa's Negroni-intensive cocktail menu

Aperol Spritz with Prosecco and soda on ice

The Negroni Boulevardier, just one of then negronis on the cocktail menu, with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Campari and Cocchi Vermouth

Caprese Estiva with buffalo mozzarella, heirloom cherry tomatoes, pink peppercorn cubebe pepper and basil oil garnished with micro greens 

Capellini with tomato sauce, sun-dried tomato, goat cheese and baby basil

Insalata di Cavolo Nero with lacinate kale, zante currants, toasted pine nuts and shaved pecorino parmigiano dressed with lemon vinaigrette served with grilled salmon 

Mafalde ai Funghi with portobello, oyster, porcini and crimini mushrooms with parmigiano 
and truffle paste in a light cream sauce 

Cavalo Nero Salad
Serves 2
Recipe courtesy of Chef Daniel Mezzola, Gusto 101

3 cups lacinato Tuscan kale, tough vein removed
1/8 cup shaved pecorino
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
4 tsp dried Zante black currants, or to taste 
1/8 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Basil Oil:
1 1/2 cups packed basil leaves
3/4 cups olive oil

Lemon Vinaigrette:
5 tbsp organic olive oil
4 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Dash of fresh cracked black pepper
Basil oil and extra shaved pecorino, for garnish

Blanch the basil in a medium saucepan of boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold water, then pat dry with paper towels and transfer to a blender. Add the oil and purée until smooth, then transfer to a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using. 

Make the vinaigrette by whisking all of the ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Using a very sharp knife, julienne the kale into a very fine chiffonade then place in a bowl with all of the remaining salad ingredients plus the vinaigrette and using your hands, massage the kale salad well to help marinate and soften the leaves. To serve, garnish each plate with a drizzle of basil oil then top with a mound of kale salad and finish with some additional grated pecorino.