The Red Tomato
Entertainment District, Toronto
Situated below Fred’s Not Here, The Red Tomato opened at the same time in 1988, a large bar with a classic retro look is getting new life through reinvention.
In a clever and calculated move they’ve said out with the old menu and in with the new; particularly focusing on pizzas.
While the name may be Fred’s Not Here, Fred was definitely around to have a couple of drinks with us and educate us on a bit of Toronto’s ever-changing restaurant scene.
Now we were there to try pizza but decided to get a few apps to share first, you know, to whet the appetite.
We ordered the clams with chorizo and the linguine Carbonara to be followed by 4 pizzas, the classic purist style margherita, their equivalent of meat lovers, the “hangover cure”, a white style pork belly with roasted sweet onions and radicchio and their fusion confusion Peking duck.
The clams and pasta came out and it took literally forever before we ate; I mean 3 bloggers going to dinner together is just asking for trouble. A good 5 minutes later we finally got started. I tried the clams first and immediately found them too salty; the idea of the dish, a delicate clam with a spicy meaty chorizo was a good one however there was a slight problem with the execution and sodium levels.
I’m not a white sauce guy so I was against ordering the carbonara; I don’t really know much about what to expect but this was a super creamy sauce with a light Grana Padano flavour with intermittent green peas lending some sweetness and crisp chunks of double smoked bacon adding some salty flair.
The pizza came out almost altogether and then the photography began, at least 5 minutes and 4 awkward stares later we got down to it; Rey and Grace started with the Peking duck, cause you know, Asians, myself, being a purist had to start with the margherita.
I thought the margherita was a great pizza, simple with quality ingredients on a well crafted base, the added basil made for great flavour; I was a big fan of the simplicity but boldness of their sauce and extremely happy it was plentiful and not scarce like some places can be.
After hearing Rey and Grace talk about how delicious the Peking duck was I grabbed a slice; it was uncanny, the flavours reminded me of eating a Peking duck pancake; roasted duck breast, crispy skin, spring onions finished with a hoisin sauce, in addition to the traditional ingredients there was a helping of enoki and shitake mushrooms which complemented the richness and added a whole new level of texture.
Apart from cheese and truffle, white based pizzas are not my thing; I don’t order them and I don’t eat them but for the good of the blog, mostly because I was outvoted, I tried a slice. The pork belly itself was fantastic, seasoned and roasted to tender and juicy perfection and the radicchio with the pork is always a classic however the roasted sweet balsamic onions were scarce; however, when I did get a bite of the three they definitely tied everything together.
Lastly the hangover cure, a mammoth pizza, bacon, egg, soppressata, cheese, olives and chili; it was a plethora of flavour exploding in your mouth, definitely something that would cure a hangover; something for the hungry man.
When all was said and done, somehow we still had room for dessert and on recommendation from Fred we ordered the chocolate and banana bread and butter pudding, the Belgium double chocolate mousse and their key lime pie.
All the desserts were good, comforting and homely a great end to the dinner; my favourite, the intense yet light chocolate mousse.
The Red Tomato is certainly heading in the right direction for reinvention; a low key and relaxed vibe with great pizza.