I had the opportunity to finally check out The Flying Banzini at lunch today. There has been a lot of buzz about this place and a few co-workers and I went to see what all the hype was about.
We arrived right at noon and the restaurant, at the corner of Holland and Wellington, was certainly buzzing. Our fellow “Tunney’s Pasture zombies” (as owner Dave Scharf jokingly called us) were swarming and there was a bottle neck t the door. A large bold sign greets you as you step in, it reads “Order. Sit. Eat”, and instruction’s don’t get much simpler than that. We had all checked out the menu on-line before hand, so we got our order in pretty quickly. Seats were scarce but we were helped into a comfortable collection of two bar tables. Waiting for our meal gave us time to take in our surroundings.
The atmosphere is comfortable and pleasant. There is enough exposed brick and displayed artwork to satisfy any hipster, but the decor is not so dramatic as to be classified as ‘weird’ by anybody. Really its all cozy, well-selected basics. Nothing wrong with that, get to the food!
The food arrived promptly, hot, looking and smelling delicious. Our table ordered a Porchetta sandwich with Major Craig’s Mango Chutney for $8.95. The Porchetta is a brined pork shoulder stuffed with Luciano’s sweet Italian sausage, fennel seeds, sweet chilies, sage, and sea salt, all wrapped in bacon and slow roasted. Apparently it was delicious, but would have been better on a firmer bun. It also went down well with tall cool glass of Beau’s … apparently.
The Wasting Away Again vegetarian pizza was also ordered for $11.95. It’s a flatbread topped with fresh basil, bocconcini cheese, San Marzano tomato sauce, mozaerella, and parmigiano cheese. It was half eaten by the time I could grab a shot, and that expression is all the review you need.
The Swing Swing Swing Panini, for $7.95, got great reviews. How could smoked salmon, spinach, red onions, capers, and dill cream cheese get anything but? I ordered the Flames of Love Panini ($7.95) with a side of the daily soup ($2.95).
The soup was some sort of squash, served with apple and cinnamon. It was creamy and delicious, perhaps a bit on the sweet side, but well-balanced. The sandwich bread hit that sweet spot between crunchy and soft. Filled with prosciutto, arugula, oven dried tomato, red onion, fresh basil, balsamic reduction, fig tapenade, and boccocini, the flavours are salty, bold, and succulent. It was mouth-watering. My only critique was that the whole tomatoes kept falling out, slices would have been better, but there’s nothing wrong with getting a little messy once in a while!
We couldn’t leave without sampling some of the “cheesecakes with attitude”. We picked a few and brought them back to the office to munch on over coffee.
At $10.95 for a half-dozen, these little treats were a steal. We sampled Classic Black Cherry New York, Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate, and Chocolate Espresso. They were all delicious, but I think the espresso one was my favorite!
There was a bit confusion concerning an allergy. Twice the server brought one of our party something he couldn’t eat (any dairy or egg), but it was resolved in the end. This lunch had all that was necessary for a great time: lively atmosphere, prompt service, and good eats. We will be back! Soon.