POWER LUNCH: AMANO PASTA

AN AUTHENTIC TASTE OF ITALY JUST STEPS AWAY FROM THE UNION STATION PLATFORM? SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.

Location: 65 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5J 1E6

Must-try eats: Chef Michael Angeloni recommends sharing two sides and three pasta dishes between two people. We recommend the stracciatella and miso brown butter stuffed squash, the farfalle with arugula pesto and walnuts, and the cheesy orecchiette with crispy shallots.

Libations: Try a House Wine Co. Riesling/Pinot Grigio blend with floral notes or the Amano Spritz. For a non-alcoholic option, we’d suggest a homemade strawberry and rosehip Italian soda.

Where to sit so you’re in-and-out in 1 hour, 15 minutes: Take a seat at the bar and peer into the open-concept kitchen for a quick meal and a behind-the-scenes look at the chefs working their magic.

THE VIBE

Located in Union Station, Amano Pasta is a meeting place at the intersection of business and pleasure. The restaurant parallels the upbeat atmosphere of Toronto’s busiest station; a high-energy oasis at the core of Toronto’s fuss and furor. Young professionals typically fill the restaurant on their lunch breaks, creating a relaxed environment free of suits and briefcases. White tile floors, Carrera marble countertops, and an open-concept kitchen sweep guests away into an authentic Italian kitchen with a modern, Canadian edge. Casual yet sophisticated, Amano offers the ease of eat n’ go with with the comfort of homemade Italian dishes.  The space seats 55 but never feels crowded; it’s the perfect escape from the frenzy of the Toronto without having to venture outside the heart of the city. Freshness doesn’t have to be far away. It doesn’t even have to be above ground. Amano is a dynamic duet of simplicity and authenticity fit for any power lunch.

THE FOOD

Despite being underground, Amano serves some of the freshest handmade pasta in Toronto. They keep the menu accessible and simplistic by highlighting the classics. Think farfalle, or bow ties as Amano dubs it, with arugula pesto and walnuts. Between two people, the chef suggests splitting three pastas and two sides. Start with one of the classic pastas, but round off the lunch with two picks from the rotating menu of pastas outside Nonna’s wheelhouse. Little ears, or orecchiette, is an ideal sharing dish. The cheesy little noodles are mixed with broccoli and crispy shallots to balance out the richness of the white cheddar, aged gouda and pecorino cheese. Indulge in tender morsels or Dungeness crab mixed with pancetta and mustard seed atop a sea of “black trumpets,” otherwise known as campanelle.

Don’t skimp on the sides. For something fresh and light, try the root vegetable carpaccio topped with Greek yoghurt and candied pistachios. Or kick it up a notch with stuffed squash stuffed with stracciatella, pomegranates, greens, topped with breadcrumbs and drizzled with miso brown butter dressing. The sides are almost as decadent as the desserts, but do not skip Amano’s sweets: A white chocolate cannoli or a dark chocolate, salted caramel budino is the perfect ending to a power lunch. Take it to go, or better yet, take an extra minute or two to people watch.

THE DRINKS

Amano’s drink menu includes both Canadian and Italian staples. An Amano Spritz is their unique take on a classic Italian apéritif. The prosecco-based cocktail is made with Aperol and bitters, but instead of embracing the traditional orange flavour, Amano plays with lemon notes and peach bitters. For cocktail lovers, check out the Toronto Cocktail made with fernet, whiskey and bitters. There’s also a variety of local beers like Collingwood pale ale, Danforth viaduct IPA and Brickworks Cider.

As for wine, Amano’s wine menu includes a dry Riesling/Pinot Grigio with fresh apple, lemon and mineral flavours, and a vibrant Cabernet/Shiraz with ripe cassis and berry aromas and a touch of black pepper.  For sweet, fruity refreshment, opt for a house-made Italian soda flavoured with maple and blueberry, honey, lemon and lavender, and strawberry and rose hip.