I’ve had plenty of foods with artichokes in them, but I’ve never actually met an artichoke. You know what I mean? I wish I could say there were more sophisticated thoughts going through my mind while eating the spinach and artichoke dip at Scaddabush, but that was about it. Well that and “damn, this is some good dip…”
Located at Yonge and Gerrard, Scaddabush is a rustic and cozy restaurant with an unpretentious take on Italian cuisine. But unpretentious doesn’t mean unprofessional. Each time I’ve gone to Scaddabush the service has been unbelievable thanks to servers who manage to take care of you and keep tabs on you without hovering. The food takes a bit longer than expected to come out, but the wait is easily forgiven once you take a bite of your meal. The ingredients are fresh and there are rarely issues with your order.
When you first take a seat, the ambiance is misleading in its seeming impracticality. The restaurant is quite dark, with a few overhead lights and a candle per table for lighting; at first it’s almost tempting to turn on your cell phone’s flashlight to read the menu. But you quickly adjust and realize that the owners know what they’re doing – it works. I’m curious though about whether the many mirrors hanging on the exposed brick walls are a mixture of interior design and inside joke considering it’s almost impossible to actually check your reflection in the dimly lit restaurant.
For first time visitors, the fresh mozzarella is a must. The Naked, which comes with extra virgin olive oil, focaccia crostini, and a dollop of tomato jam, is a great appetizer to share as a starter, but it will definitely go quickly. Keeping in line with the restaurant’s rustic, but controlled decor, the components are neatly presented right on a wood cheese board, and the first sight of it will instantly perk your table up. Made fresh in-house each day, the mozzarella is creamy, supple, and – forgive the cliché – will quite literally melt in your mouth. An alternative appetizer is the spinach and artichoke dip I mentioned earlier served with unlimited crostini. It’s a tasty version of the easy potluck dish, but it is heavy and if you are someone who gets full easily not a good idea if you’re planning to order an entrée.
When it comes to the entrées, do not shy away from the sandwiches and pizzas. People are often hesitant to order these items because it feels like a cop out. Why order something you can get in a fast food restaurant? This is definitely not a fast food restaurant, and Scaddabush’s pizzas and sandwiches are certainly worth a try. The Diavolo, a spicy chicken pizza served with caramelized onions, grape tomatoes, and a variety of cheeses, is a highly recommended choice and nicely presented on its cutting board. The pizza scissors mean you’ll have to get your hands a little extra dirty, but that way you can say you played a part in preparing your food. For vegetarians, the grilled vegetable sandwich served on focaccia is jam packed with goodies and seasoned with an olive tapenade. I’m of the opinion that the vegetarian options are the best-kept secret of a lot of restaurants, since the lack of meat leaves the dishes with so much more to prove. While I did not try the pasta – seems a bit remiss considering Scaddabush is an Italian restaurant – I have it on good authority that the pesto pollo is “lit”.
While a reservation is always the classy way to go – don’t be the party of sixteen that shows up unexpectedly on a busy night – for a small party, it isn’t really necessary. I’ve always been able to get a table even on a Friday or Saturday evening and have yet to wait.
I cannot end this review without shouting out a very important person from my last visit. This past weekend, I uncharacteristically forgot my phone (and all my ID, debit, and credit cards in the case) on the table. Someone that I am assuming is the bus boy ran outside and down the street to call us down and return the phone. He was not our server, and we didn’t interact with him once that night, so the fact that he could identify us was remarkable on its own. He could have easily got away with leaving it at the bar and hoping we return but instead chased us down and started running back before I could finish thanking him.
“What’s your name?” I shouted down the street.
“Nathan!” he called back.
Now I understand that moment in superhero movies where the rescued person demands to know the name of their hero. I’m a little worried I’m calling him by the wrong name and that his name is actually David, but my friend assures me he said Nathan. So to Nathan at Scaddabush on Yonge and Gerrard, thank you for saving me from an incredibly crappy and stressful night. You the real MVP, babe.
Featured image from Scaddabush