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First glances can be deceiving You, our dining critics

Verdi Restaurant on Bayview, just north of Belsize, is not the place for teenagers at first glance.

“Older, dated,” said Christopher Lexovsky, of Glenvale Blvd. He and teen neighbour Emma Zivot, who said the place was “nice,” say they wouldn’t choose it with their friends because it’s “too upscale” and adult friendly.

But, says Emma’s mother, Leslie MacIntosh, it’s a good place for teenagers. Formal (but not too stiff) dining where they can be exposed to what a nice, good restaurant looks like and what good service is.”

The overall experience, say both mothers Leslie and Kimberly, was “excellent”.

As for the look of the place:

Kimberly: “Quaint, traditional Italian.”

Christopher and Kimberly Lexovsky, Leslie MacIntosh and Emma Zivot

From left, Christopher and Kimberly Lexovsky, Leslie MacIntosh and Emma Zivot. We give $100 to help pay for a meal for three at any restaurant in our area, the M4G postal code, which includes Leaside, Bennington Heights and the Leaside Business Park (known also as the industrial area).

Leslie: “Lovely. Beautiful photographs of Italy on the walls. Clean. Nice lighting.”

Which probably is not what teens want. But there were some raves about the food.

Kimberly had the pasta with chicken and sweet peas in a four-cheese plum tomato cream sauce: “At first the portion looked small but I barely finished it. It had a thick texture but not too creamy with lots of peas and a generous portion of chicken. I loved it.”

Son Christopher was just as happy with orecchiette pasta tossed with a slow braised meat sauce: “Pasta was done perfectly – al dente. The sauce was very classic Bolognese. It was very filling. Enjoyed it very much.”

Leslie was more succinct. Her penne pasta with double smoked bacon, vodka and creamy mascarpone cheese sauce was: “Excellent.”

Emma had the only disappointment of the night with a slow cooked risotto funghi with wild mushrooms and parmesan cheese: “Too many mushrooms took away from the risotto.”

There were no complaints about the appetizers and desserts.

Kimberly: “The menu had a modern take on the classic dishes by their ingredients. For example, the basket of bread served with the Caesar salad is made with romaine and kale and topped with crisped prosciutto and artichokes. A lovely surprise and a very good choice.

“They also offer wild boar sausage. A pasta dish included candied almonds. I found the menu quite interesting and look forward to going back to try some other items.”

That was shared. So was the bruschetta: “Traditional, good sized portions. Very good.

“We shared two desserts. We were limited due to Emma’s allergies, but what we could have, turned out to be very rewarding:

“Crème brulee – the portion surprised us. I have never had such a large portion at a restaurant. My only complaint, the bottom part was pretty cold. I am used to having it room temperature, but it was very tasty. Definitely enough to share.

“Tiramisu – our favourite. The plating was interesting. It was served in a tall wide glass like a parfait. It was excellent. Again a very generous portion.”

Good service, they said. Leslie: “It appeared as if there were some regular diners, the waiter greeting people who had been there before. A good sign.”

Kimberly: “The menu had something for everyone.” That includes a large selection of pizzas from a wood oven.

Her final comment: “Great company and great food at a great price point.

Despite the traditional décor the menu is full of surprises and the experience is one we look forward to repeating. Very much recommend this spot for families, couples, or a first date.”