On April 19th Matt Basile, aka Fidel Gastros, will open the doors and welcome the public to Lisa Marie, one of the most anticipated restaurants in Toronto. This past Sunday, Matt hosted a media event at his new restaurant to give us a preview of his menu.
I wonder if Matt would remember earlier this year when he tweeted out that he’d be releasing some big news and I immediately replied asking when the restaurant will be opening. He didn’t confirm it then, but he didn’t deny it either. I figured that this would be next step in his incredible journey.
I’ve always admired Matt for having the cojones to walk away from his corporate desk job and pursue his passion for cooking. He began by doing pop-ups around Toronto, then eventually moved on to owning Fidel Gastro’s, one of the city’s more popular food trucks which he nicknamed Priscilla. As if wasn’t busy enough, soon after that, he started shooting his own reality show on the Travel & Escape channel called ‘Rebel Without A Kitchen’ which debuted on April 9th.
Lisa Marie is in the space previously occupied by Prague European Kitchen at 638 Queen Street West. Matt pays homage to Elvis Presley in all his ventures, from the name of his food truck to the restaurant (I still need to find out where his catch phrase of ‘Ole`!’ came from though). The tribute to The King continues as you walk into Lisa Marie. There is a huge black and white mural that fills one wall of the room.
The sign above the bar, which houses a bust of Elvis along its back wall, perfectly describes the menu: ‘Cicchetti – Kind of like tapas but not’. According to Wikipedia, Cicchetti is a snack or side dish that is served in Venice, and this is exactly the kind of dishes that will be served, sharing plates and snacks that are made to be eaten by hand.
Matt’s philosophy in his food is that every bite should have contrasting flavours and textures and this was quite evident throughout the items I tasted on Sunday.