Bocca on Baldwin

26 Baldwin St.
416-348-0731
www.boccaonbaldwin.ca

Rating: ****
Dinner for two with drinks: $55

It’s 36 degrees tonight so we sit inside to reap the benefits of air conditioning. Besides, the patio is full.

The interior takes the pose of New York resto — exposed brick walls, iron chandeliers and rich burgundy wood tables and booths. The menu offers a ton of interesting, sophisticated choices: appetizers, pizzas, pastas, mains and specials at affordable prices.

Take the soup, for instance. Tomato, fish and tortilla chowder ($5.50) is thick, rich and spirited, though the tortillas get lost in the mix.

And the Grilled Calamari ($10.50) is brilliant, marinated with chipotle, lime and olive oil, accompanied with a snappy mango, tomato and red pepper salsa and tender greens.

The Penne Anatra ($16) is such a divine find that we both choose it.

Al dente penne pasta, tossed with sumptuous oyster mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes with bite is magnificent, and soaks up the chive vodka cream sauce, which is good enough to stand on its own.

Keeping it from perfection? With three and a half small slices, the delectable smoked duck is more of a garnish than main component. Service is erratic, but we don’t mind so much tonight, as we’ve got ½ litre of sangria ($20) to keep us company.

Dining out

Crepe, Krepe The crepe craze continues, but this time with a twist. Krepesz (253 Augusta Ave.) creates palacsinta, Hungarian pancakes, similar to crepes but with distinctive Hungarian ingredients and flavours. www.krepesz.com.

Pub Fare Looking for somewhere nice, but casual to go after work with friends? The Roy Public House (894 Queen St. E.) is small, but comfy. The menu has some fun items. Go to www.theroy.ca for details.

In brief

Shopping with Ease The Market by Longo’s HBC (100 Bloor St. E.) has a great layout and fantastic finds like cooked rack of lamb, ready-to-cook meals-in-a-bowl and a sushi bar. Go to www.longos.com for more.