This is Pushing Patio Season, a seasonal column to help Apt613 readers find amazing patios that stay open even when it’s cold, rainy, or even snowing. We know many people aren’t ready to head back to indoor dining just yet, so we’re recommending patios that are heated and/or covered, with fun ambiance and picturesque views (or at least some top-notch people-watching) and of course, serving delicious food and drinks. Got a suggestion for a patio? Hit us up at email@example.com.
Last weekend, I happened to be walking down Wellington St. at Clarendon and got a daytime look at the adorable wood-framed covered patio in front of Joe’s Italian Kitchen: Checkered tablecloths, chandeliers, those pyramid-style propane heaters with the dancing flames, plaid fleece blankets folded over the backs of chairs, waiting to wrap up diners. I was smitten. I thought about it all week. So that’s where I went for dinner tonight, and it was exactly as cozy as it looks.
Our friendly server informed us that the plan is to keep the patio open all winter if they’re able to. The Plexiglas front “windows” keep most of the breeze out, though I was seated with my back to the door, probably the coldest spot in the place, but with my coat on and that fleece blanket, I was very comfortable for the hour and a half we spent there.
If you haven’t been to Joe’s (as we had, this past summer at their Carp location at Kin Vineyards), then you may be perplexed by the word “pinsa” on their menu. Thankfully, the explanation is simple: It’s a (modern-day) Roman variation on pizza, a thin crust made from sourdough and a blend of wheat, soy, and rice flours that’s extra-crisp at the edges but chewy in the middle. You can get your pinsa topped over a dozen ways, most of them named in honour of famous guys named Joe: Walsh, Jackson, Montana, DiMaggio, and even Mufferaw (the “lumberjack special”). However, two are named for women, including the Sophia Loren, my choice for tonight’s dinner: tomato sauce, fior di latte cheese, prosciutto and fresh arugula finished with a balsamic drizzle. My dining partner opted for the Aloha Joe, with (you guessed it) fresh pineapple, bacon, mozzarella and prosciutto cotto. Both were absolutely wonderful.
We each started with a giant arancini – a lightly breaded and fried baseball of mushroom risotto that was just right for one person, dressed with a simple tomato sauce and a few leaves of arugula. So good, I didn’t even get a photo. There are pastas, salads, and other apps on the menu as well, but to my mind, you’re here for the pinsa. And if you’re not, you should go soon. You can sit inside if you want, but the patio is so warm and welcoming (if a teeny bit too bright) that you might not even notice the winter weather. Do call ahead to make sure the patio is still open, but my guess is they’re in it for the long haul. And I, for one, am thrilled about it.