Monday, November 9, 2015

Brunch at Lil' Baci: A Little Leslieville Gem

For those who aren't early risers and love a Mimosa with their eggs benedict, brunch can be the most important meal of the weekend. And for one of Toronto's top brunch experiences, one need not look any further than Lil' Baci, the small Leslieville gem started by Mark Bacci and his team back in 2007. Located in one of the original storefronts that line Queen Street East, Lil' Baci's motto, “Italian food - crafted with love and integrity,” propels their menu forward. It's simple Italian fare that owner Mark Bacci, who is a chef himself, gravitated to while filming a movie in Italy. 

Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and brunch on weekends, the menu offers fresh, locally-sourced ingredients with Italian-inspired dishes like Truffled Eggs with asiago cheese, white truffle oil and tapenade served with toasted house made bread; Lil' Baci Baked Eggs with roasted tomato, basil, smoked provolone and Italian sausage; decadent house made Brioche French Toast with lemon marsarpone and ruptured berries; and other brunch standards such as Lil' Baci ‘bennies’ topped with lemon-truffle hollandaise and served with duck fat potatoes and salad, plus whimsical 'Baci Balls & Eggs' — meatballs braised in tomato or mascarpone sauce with two poached eggs and finished with pecorino cheese. The interior is retro chic with exposed brick walls, oversized mirrors, mismatched chandeliers and old black and white photos of Baci’s family hanging crookedly on the wall, for a warm and relaxed atmosphere that’s an ideal backdrop for long leisurely Sunday afternoons. Weekend brunch is always busy, so be prepared to wait and bring an appetite.

The warm and friendly interior of Lil'Bacci 

The bright funky bar is set up for a battalion of Bloody Ceasers

Old black and white photos of Baci’s family add to the warm and relaxed atmosphere

The Brunch menu features poached, scrambled and baked eggs served with salad and duck fat potatoes, as well breakfast pizzas, sandwiches and 'Bacci Balls with Eggs' — meatballs with poached eggs!

Lil Bacci Ceaser with vodka, splash of laphroaig, olives, horseradish, clamato juice, black pepper, tabasco, worchestershire, rosemary, celery, spice, lemon, lime and topped with strip of pancetta

Bloody Ceasers are generously topped with crisp pancetta

The kitchen is bustling every Sunday whisking up a solid menu of delicious brunch dishes    

Eggs are the mainstay of most of Lil' Bacci's brunch menu

The open kitchen with hanging pots and pans set the scene for honest, simple cooking  

Melenzana Baked Eggs with eggplant, fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce and breadcrumbs

Mushroom Baked Eggs with panna, Cremini mushrooms, goat cheese and spinach

Truffled Eggs with parsley, Asiago cheese, White truffle oil and olive tapenade with toasted house made bread, arugula salad and duck fat potatoes

Lil' Baci Baked Eggs with roasted tomato, basil, smoked provolone and Italian sausage

Watermelon with Grated Ricotta Salata
Serves 2-3 as side dish
Recipe courtesy Chef Larry Santos, Lil' Bacci

18 oz watermelon
3 oz grated ricotta salata
Sprigs of fresh mint leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
25-year-old balsamic
kosher salt and fresh black peppercorn

Vacuum-pack the watermelon and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 2 days. This step can be omitted if needed, but increases the sweetness of the watermelon. Slice the watermelon into cubes and place on platter. Add several sprigs of mint leaves on top and in between the sliced watermelon. Sprinkle with ricotta salt and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.