Tutti Matti…Italian; “Everyone is crazy”…except those at Tutti Matti

All is crazy, seems to be the theme these days….and by days, I mean years.  About 12 years ago, a cyclone went through our town and planted a tree in our roof.  Just over three years ago our house exploded and we found ourselves homeless for a few months while all was being re-built.  Two weeks ago, an F3 tornado cut a swath through Goderich again, this time decimating the core of the town.  As each disaster left its physical scars, the real work began to emerge.  Each event stressful for some more than others.  Each event we found ourselves turning to rituals to calm, restore and replenish our tired minds, bodies and souls.

As is often noted, the ritual of food preparation and sharing is also one that sustains us in more ways than just nutritionally.

Pat and I chose to leave the craziness and stress of Goderich, where his office building is in a delicate state, in order to bring Emily back to McGill.  An attempt at creating normalcy.  Our time away meant that we could be taken out of the obvious circumstances of the office re-location and 15 staff, in order to pause, and if lucky have a good sleep.

On our way home from Montreal we took one more night in Toronto, so that we could go to our favorite Toronto restaurant, Tutti Matti.  We discovered Tutti Matti within months of it opening a few years ago.  We were drawn by the initial review of the restaurant, and that it served traditional Tuscan food; but what makes us go back again and again, is the fact that it not only nourishes our bodies, but our weary selves.  One cannot live well, love well or sleep well, unless one has dined well. Virginia Woolf.  I would add, that the value of the dining experience is directly related to those that prepare and share it with you.  This is where Tutti Matti shines.

As with all other visits that have included many personal celebrations(most recently Patrick’s 50th), we were warmly received and brought to our table in full view of the open kitchen.  I spent many years working in restaurants and to say that  pots and pans being thrown around were as frequent as the incessant swearing and yelling, is an understatement.  No such disorder exists at Tutti Matti.  This is a rarefied group within the often times turbulent restaurant industry.  The only thing crazy at Tutti Matti are the customers….like us;)  The staff is incredibly organized, efficient and are clearly passionate about their individual trades.  Each person contributes skillfully to the sense of purpose and calm.

Tutti Matti is as stable as the traditions that are reflected within its walls.  The unrelenting ability to create authentic Tuscan cuisine is awe-inspiring.  This is all due to its birth-mother Alida Soloman.  I have always believed that superior performance in a restaurant can only be achieved by a great leader, and Alida is this.  That comment will make her cringe!…I should take it out, but I can’t!  The staff are genuinely nice, I know that sounds hokey, but its true.  You want to invite them all over to your own house just to send a little lovin’ back their way.

Last night, Patrick and I chose this for dinner:  To share…FORMAGGI MISTI: schiacciata(tuscan flatbread) with olive oil, potato, shaved asparagus, pepper pecorino and 2 ducks eggs over easy.

Patrick’s main…PORCHETTA: oven roasted suckling pig with dried apricots, sauteed spinach and soft polenta

My main…GNUDI:pulled crab, chicory, mint, lemon presh peas, semolina ricotta

shared side:  PISELLI ALLA FIORENTINA: peas with prosciutto, onion, rosemary, garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

Along with a couple a beautiful glasses of wine, we were satiated and happy.

Food allows us to re-centre, to have a break in our days.  Beautifully prepared food, delivered with care and joy elevates the event to the spiritual.  When I had my cafe, I was constantly humbled by customers that allowed me to nourish them; especially those that were visibly suffering from life-threatening disease.  I fed many who had the courage to get out, when the mirror probably told them to stay in bed.  These are the people who continue to inspire me.

While our family is healthy and safe, we know the importance of re-fueling.  At Tutti Matti you will genuinely be inspired by the kitchen, and humbly grateful for their attention.  It’s why we go back.  It’s why we know that every single person in that restaurant goes back.  We are all one.