The mustache is a noble feature. Some of the most famous and notorious people in history including Charlie Chaplin, Adolf Hitler, Tom Selleck and even Nintendo’s Mario have all been somewhat defined by their mustache. They are a trend right now, appearing on everything from girl’s sweaters to keychains to taxis (yes there is a cab company called Mustache rides in Indianapolis). The mustache has even become the focal point of Movember, when men who have no business growing facial hair can get away with it for a month a year.
The Toronto culinary scene has it’s own famous mustache; celebrity chef Massimo Copra. Fifteen years ago he opened Mistura which redefined Italian food in Toronto. He has taken his innovation beyond facial hair and has expanded into one of the most under serviced areas in the restaurant business…the airport.
Historically, Toronto airport fare could best be defined as mass-produced, overpriced, cafeteria food which needs to be cut with dull utensils. More recently, popular chain restaurants such as Weber’s and Casey’s have emerged as alternate and slightly better choices. As of 2013, Chef Copra has raised the bar by opening Boccone, the first in what promises to be a slew of celebrity chef inspired restaurants in what should be a perfect dining market; travelers with expense accounts and good taste contained in a glass bubble with time to kill. Even if there isn’t a lot of time, Baccone offers a 10-minute guarantee to ensure one doesn’t miss their flight or has time for a pre-flight manicure.
Located in terminal one, Baccone is a modest eatery offering an array of standard Italian foods including pizza, pasta and sandwiches. A gluten free menu is featured predominately at the entrance featuring things like corn pasta.
They also have a mid-size drink list which offers a few classics. I opted for a Baccone’s Blood Orange gin cocktail for a reasonable $10. It was a refreshing, somewhat sophisticated drink but with an orange garnish the size of the glass it managed to maintain a bit of the cheesiness of an old school airport cocktail.
I decided on pasta for lunch and ordered the $16 Gamberetti spaghetti; a simple olive oil based dish with shrimp, tomato and zucchini. As promised, the dish came out in the 10th minute and was served hot. The pasta was a perfect al dente, the large shrimp were cooked to maintain their moistness and was seasoned well. The “airport” in this dish was the grated Parmesan served in a white, ribbed ramekin…classic.
Unable to pass on dessert, I was torn between a half dozen classic offerings. I settled for the frittelle, an Italian style donut served with chocolate and whipped cream. Eight glazed timbit sized morsels arrived warm and served in a newspaper-like liner. Three were plenty because they were sweeter than a purring kitten wearing a gondolier hat while paddling through the canals of Venice. The chocolate and whipped cream intensified the sweetness. I’m glad I ordered a coffee as well since the bitterness was able to create a bit of a balance.
The stash has made a splash with the opening of a high quality restaurant in the normally mundane airport market. The decor is bright and fun and the variety of the food is great, including a modest list of gluten free options. The friendly service was prompt and they kept to the 10 minute promise. This is an ideal stop for the traveler searching for quick and decent food that stays within the expense budget.
Although I did see him buzzing around the restaurant, I didn’t get a chance to speak to Massimo himself…nor did I get a picture. If anything, at the advice of my son, I was dying to say to him “I mustache you a question…..” . Sigh…I guess I’ll have to shave it for later.