It was a sunny Sunday, but sunset was perilously close even though it was 3pm because we wanted to venture beyond Queen St. and on foot to boot. With no particular destination in mind, we wandered into Little Italy. Lo and behold, Utopia, as fine a final destination as any - however, it was packed and the entrance way eluded us. We could see in, but didn't quite know how to get there. Walking a few blocks in either direction on College St., we soon settled on Bar Italia as there was a chalkboard scrawl of the most inviting words on such a day "Brunch Available". There was one hellavu brunch in effect(a private bridal function upstairs) - but not for us; a girl behind the bar curtly warned that only lunch was available. It was just past 4pm.
No worries, it was almost dinner, and having not eaten yet, there wasn't even strength to quibble. There was only one server and maybe four other tables, but it took quite awhile to even get a menu. However, after she made up for it later by being very generous with coffee refills - very fresh, robust coffee. As we gleaned over the what could have been brunch options, the lunch plates were just as enticing. There was a good variety of main salads, and the sandwich options were each one equally tantalizing. Kudos to whomever wrote the menu - never have I perused such simply written yet, enticing descriptions - hot!
So, I finally settled on the muffelleta despite the fact that I don't like cold cuts, but it was the olive paste that hooked me. It was a solid choice - I'd recommend it to you salt-ists: ample layers of mortadella and salami, buttery mozzarella, crunchy homemade pickles, crisp lettuce, and the promised smear of black olives. It was not accompanied by any fries or salad, but was a hearty sandwich - plenty for a light eater, someone hungrier might want some soup. My eating partner chose the salmon salad - a nicely seared portion atop a generous tangle of mixed greens glistening with dressing.
All in all, I liked the spacious, warm, modern setting. The ingredients were quality (minding me of the Italian cooking philosophy - good food comes from the best of ingredients), and the service was apt. Next time I go, it will definitely be before 4pm.