On the second day of Doors Open 2013, my girlfriend and I finished our journey in St. Lawrence Market and decided to give Paganelli's with a Groupon that we had.
Since it was during early dinner hours on a Sunday evening, the restaurant was mostly empty, and we were one of the first customers to arrive. My first impression of the restaurant was that it felt very homey. Because of its location and price range, I was expecting something more upscale and romantic, but the restaurant felt more family-oriented.
A part of the Groupon deal included a free plate of salami, which were cured right at the restaurant. I had grown accustomed to store-bought cold cut salami when I first came to Canada, and this plate of salami was quite outstanding compared to the heavily processed deli.
I ordered Tagliata di Maiale ($19), which is pork neck topped with fresh arugula salad with mushrooms and shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano. The pork was tender, while arugula and mushrooms remained crunchy, which added their own flavours to the well-marinated pork. Unlike store-bought Parmesan, the fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano did not overpower the other flavours.
My girlfriend ordered Parma pizza with generous amount of prosciutto on top. The pizza was more of in an oval shape rather than a circular shape that we have come to know. Unlike some of our other favourite pizza restaurants, we were given a pair of scissors as a cutlery rather than a knife. The pizza was somewhat over-blackened on the bottom, which was a little difficult to remove with a pair of scissors.
For dessert, we ordered Pistachio gelato ($7), which was a bit disappointing despite the raving reviews we came across on Foursquare. After we had finished our dessert, we were asked to order another dessert since our bill did not meet the minimum spending requirement for the Groupon.
The server suggested La Settima Strega ($9) for us to try, which was molten chocolate cake severed with sorbet. It was unlike anything we had before, and it was definitely one of the best desserts that we have tried. If if weren't convinced to return to the restaurants by the entrée, we were convinced then.
I am giving Paganelli's 3 out of 5 stars (★★★☆☆). Although the food and the atmosphere was authentic and genuine, we were not particularly impressed with the food we got. It was definitely one of those restaurants that are nice to try, but it lacked certain factors to convince us to return, until we tried the La Settima Strega. As the name suggests, the restaurant was once known for its Risotto, which won an award back in 2001. It has been more than 10 years since, and a change may be necessary in order for the restaurant to relive its days of glory.