It is fitting that “scaddabush” is Italian slang for “a bit of everything”. Anyone who has taken part in an Italian feast knows that the best meals are often the result of bringing together “a little of this and a little of that”… and our recent visit to Scaddabush Italian Kitchen & Bar reflected this sensibility perfectly.
GTA patrons will remember its predecessor – Alice Fazooli’s – as a fixture on the corner of Rathburn Rd and Duke of York Blvd in Mississauga. Strategically located right across the street from Square One, the largest mall in Ontario, I participated in many a “drinks-on-the-patio” kind of night at Fazooli’s throughout my twenties. And so it was with an equal mix of nostalgia and curiosity that I consented to check out the all-new Scaddabush Italian Kitchen & Bar.
Our reservations were for 6:30pm on a Saturday night, so the decidedly dimmed down “date-night” ambiance didn’t really bother me, except that it made taking photos inside nearly impossible! Alas, armed with only my iPhone, I didn’t think to compensate with an external flash. Lesson learned.
We were promptly seated and our very personable waiter enthusiastically recommended the two signature appetizers: Fresh Mozzarella and the Meatballs.
The mozzarella is made fresh daily, in-house, between 5pm and 9pm. Served NAKED ($9.88): extra-virgin olive oil, focaccia crostini, San Marzano tomato jam, sea salt; PINGUE PROSCIUTTO ($15.98): focaccia crostini, fig jam, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt; or THE SPADUCH ($10.29): focaccia crostini, garlic, anchovies, lemon caper butter sauce. We are prosciutto lovers and opted for the Pingue Prosciutto without hesitation.
And for the meatball appetizer? Well, here’s what Scaddabush has to say about their meatballs –
“We love meatballs. And the secret to making them? Our special Sunday sauce. The kind that Nonna would slow cook at the start of the week. Each day we prepare a sauce just like that, adding bits of Parmesan and pancetta for flavour. Our half-pound meatballs are made with Certified Angus beef, ricotta cheese and parsley, marinated with garlic, black pepper, porcini mushrooms and olive oil. Then it’s into our sauce to be simmered to absolute perfection. Choose between classic or pepperoni and mozzarella-stuffed. Nonna would approve. We’re certain you will too.”
How could we not try one after an endorsement like that? We selected a Straight Up Classic Meatball and had high expectations. In addition to our apps, my husband ordered a glass of the Robert Mondavi Moscato, while I gleefully settled on a Lemon Rosemary Bellini.
Now it needs to be said; for all the time and care our server took to be warm, welcoming and informative, it seemed somewhat tainted by the parade of indifferent, hurried servers who dropped off our drinks and appetizers, and later, our mains and dessert. In fact, throughout our entire dining experience there seemed to be an excess of these servers milling around, often with a scowl or vacant look as they deposited orders on tables. It’s such a shame that they didn’t show the same pride in their work as our main server.
Regardless, my Bellini was divine and our appetizers arrived promptly – by Saturday evening standards, no less.
The mozzarella was delicious as advertised, mainly due to the complementary flavours of the fig jam and sea salt. The saltiness of the prosciutto offered a necessary depth to the dish, and overall it was a very pleasant taste sensation. The presentation lacked finesse, however; it looked very much like a few ingredients that I’d slap on my cutting board at home, which is slightly disappointing for an appetizer priced at $16. However, all things considered, we finished every bite and exchanged a few mouthfuls of “Mmmm…” and “OMG… so good.”
But the meatball. THIS. This is what I’ll return to Scaddabush for. Breaking into the densely packed ball, one bite had visions of Jersey Shore dancing before my eyes. You know the episodes where they’d be enjoying a meal made by Vinny’s mama? And you couldn’t help but think, “Da-yamn… what I wouldn’t give to be at that dinner table?” Uh huh. The meatball, simmered in their special Sunday sauce, is a thing of perfection. The meal is shareable and comes with a focaccia crostini – an absolute must for dipping in the reserved sauce. My husband dutifully offered me the last bite – a bite that I would have fought him for if he hadn’t been the gentlemen he is.
The wait time between our main dishes and appetizers was quick – so quick that they arrived before we had finished savouring our apps. I’ll say it again; I’m not a fan of the rotating server phenomena – especially when they don’t take the time to check to see if the table is ready for the next round. Regardless, I stuffed the last bit of mozzarella in my mouth and prepared to enjoy the Char-Grilled Calamari I had ordered.
Visually appealing, I was excited to experience the grilled seafood served with Roma tomato salsa fresca, olives, capers and baby arugula. And while I really wanted to love the dish, I found that the calamari lacked seasoning when sampled alone, which is a problem because I love to enjoy seafood without all the adornments. However, when I retried the calamari with a generous dollop of the tomato salsa, I concurred that the flavours were very harmonious and I preceded to enjoy the remainder of the dish.
(In my mind, I was hoping for a char-grilled hood of squid that was well seasoned and flavoured with olive oil and lemon; on my plate, I received an unseasoned cut of squid that relied on its embellishments to carry the dish. If you’re a seafood lover this dish will fall short.)
My husband ordered the Crusted Tilapia, which is pan-seared potato Parmesan crusted, and served with sautéed vegetables. Once again, the side was the star of the show; spicy, saucy and robustly seasoned, I couldn’t have enough sautéed vegetables, but gave the tilapia only passing marks – most of them deducted due to presentation. I realize that Scaddabush is a family-style restaurant, but this $20 entrée looked like it was served up by a short-order cook in a diner. Definitely not a date-night “do”.
Up until this point, the wait times for service had been outstanding, especially for a busy weekend evening at prime dinner time. However, our luck ran out; from the moment we both finished our main courses to the time our server approached with the dessert menu, it was a good 25 minutes. And as much as I love to stare into my husband’s eyes, 25 minutes felt like a long time, especially when the boys are at grandma’s and I know they’ll be driving her crazy :) After ordering the Zeppole to share for dessert (deep fried sweet dough, dusted with citrus sugar, served with chocolate hazelnut sauce for dipping) we had to wait an additional 15 minutes, making the total wait time 40 minutes between courses. Sacre bleu!
The zeppole was worth the wait. Tender and slightly sweet, the very act of dipping them in the warm chocolate sauce was a ritual unto itself. I *may* have had the delicious sauce drip down my chin; but I’ll never confirm that. Served in a rustic paper bag that dutifully absorbed the excess grease, the dessert was definitely one of the highlights of the meal.
In short, we had a great date night at Scaddabush. There were moments of excellence (the Meatball; the Zeppole) and moments that fell short (presentation, underwhelming main courses). However, we have already planned a second visit for another go at Nonna’s approved meatballs. If you’re in the Mississauga area, or have checked out the restaurant already, do let me know what you think! And, if you can squeeze in a visit before summer ends, the patio, located to the side of the restaurant, is gorgeous. It features large market umbrellas and beautiful greenery with lush green potted plants placed throughout, giving the space depth and a sense of warmth, while remaining airy and open.
Special thanks to Scaddabush for inviting me to review the restaurant, including comping our meal. The opinions on my blog, as always, are my own. Click here to visit Scaddabush.