You’re about to see a whole lot more of Toronto chef/restaurateur Mark McEwan in the months ahead. Not only because he’s taking on the Tom Colicchio role and becoming lead judge on Top Chef Canada, which starts shooting in Toronto this summer, but also because he's opening a new rustic Italian restaurant in August called Fabbrica. This promises to be a “highly authentic” Italian restaurant — from its Italian-sourced ingredients right down to its wood-burning oven. Fabbrica will be located in the Shops at Don Mills, right across the lane from McEwan Foods, the chef’s eponymous mecca for gourmet provisions.
McEwan says his measuring stick of success (in terms of authenticity) for the new restaurant will be Toronto’s Italian grandmas (a.k.a. the best Italian cooks in the city). “If I’m not doing it right, they’ll let me know,” he says. Executive chef Rob LeClair, who has served as sous chef at two McEwan restaurants, will be manning the stoves and pizza oven at Fabbrica, where, besides the ‘za, other menu highlights will include whole roasted fish in the wood-burning oven, handmade pastas and house-cured salami.
After August comes September, and that’s when Mark McEwan’s first cookbook, Great Food at Home (2010 Penguin Group Canada) hits store shelves. It will feature a greatest hits list from his three restaurants (Bymark, North 44 and One). Chef McEwan was serving some of these dishes in miniature form at the Indigo Books sneak peek “Fall Story” event I attended last week (above). We’re talking gravlax with citrus blinis, foie gras terrine with rhubarb compote, and butternut squash ravioli with browned butter and crisp sage, plus sweet pea risotto with lake perch (also pictured above).
We’ll have to wait for those recipes until the cookbook comes out (can’t wait!), but for now, here’s a simply perfect pasta dish from McEwan Foods:
1 lb. fusilli pasta
2 tbsp grape seed oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 lb. San Marzano tomatoes, peeled
15 fresh basil leaves, julienned
2 tbsp coarse salt
1/2 tbsp fresh black pepper
1 lb. mozzarella di bufala, cut into 1/2” cubes
Grated Parmesan (optional)
Step 1: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and then add fusilli. Cook to desired doneness (al dente is recommended).
Step 2: To a large skillet on high heat, add both the grape seed oil and garlic. Break up tomatoes and squeeze directly into the skillet after garlic has started turning golden (about one minute). Add the basil, salt and pepper, bring to a boil and then lower to medium heat.
Step 3: Once pasta is cooked, evenly distribute mozzarella into the sauce. Drain water from pasta and add pasta to sauce in skillet. Continue to mix sauce and mozzarella until the mozzarella is completely melted. Top with grated Parmesan, if desired.
For another delicious pasta, watch Lynda Reeves prepare a whole wheat spaghetti recipe on our Online TV show.