Churrasco Villa? Churrasco Heaven.
254 Eglinton Avenue
Toronto, ON M4P 1K2
Yes, early February brought us Winterlicious, and as much as you would expect a post from so large a food event, Merky and I were too slow in making reservations. We were determined nonetheless to discover yet another great restaurant, with or without Winterlicious’ help. Luckily, on Friday night, we found ourselves sitting in Churrasco Villa, a friendly, little Portuguese resto on the northwest corner of Mt. Pleasant and Eglinton.
With a satisfactory rating on blogTO, we took the readers’ comments into consideration instead, and there was a consensus among them: Churrasco Villa seems to serve the best ribs and chicken! So, guess what we ordered.
But let me start with dessert first and go backwards. After an incredible course, we had to see if their dessert was just as good. Under sobremesa on their menu, they only had two choices: Their Own Apple Cranberry Streudel (4.99) and Pasteis de Nata (2.49). We opted for the more expensive one, since we had a better idea of what it was.
In retrospect, it was a good choice (for me, anyway), as the other was an egg tart that I wouldn’t have been able to have, being allergic to eggs, but perhaps not the best for Merky who doesn’t have an affinity for cranberries like I do. Though nowhere nearly as great as the mains, the strudel was still delicious. The outside, perhaps a little burnt, was flaky, and the filling was not too tart.
Unable to decide who gets the best chicken and who gets the most amazing ribs, and also not wanting to order too much, we resolved to split everything like the strudel. Besides what you already assume we’ve ordered, we shared a pasta dish: Grilled Tiger Shrimp Penne with Pommodoro Sauce (13.99). Other options include spaghettini and garlic rosé sauce.
The penne was cooked al dente, just the way we like it. The sauce was not bland nor too strong — it was rich in flavour but perhaps a little too spicy for me to handle. (Trooper Merky finished the dish.) Oh, and the shrimp were huge! It baffles me why you can hardly see any in the photo above.
Ok, how about their chicken and ribs!
We shared the Chicken and Baby Back Ribs Combo (21.99). Given a choice of dark or white meat, we chose dark, of course, and for sides, we had roast potatoes and rice pilaf. It might be too soon to call them the best ever of their kind, but, boys and girls, the chicken and ribs are as amazing as they say.
We had no complaints about the potatoes and rice — they were excellent, and there’s not much else we can say. The chicken was well done. It was tender and moist, and full of flavour, having been basted, according to their menu, with piri piri sauce. You can have the chicken with and without more piri-piri sauce, because it’s great either way — it just comes down to your preference. However, it is a distant second to the ribs.
Personally, I never crave ribs because I’ve always thought eating ribs involves, frankly, too much work just to get meat off bone, but these are worth barbecue sauce all over your face. At first, I was diligently slicing the meat off the bone, ensuring I waste no meat. This might have annoyed Merky a bit, because she told me to just drop the knife and fork and pick it up. That’s how you eat ribs after all, and, I’ll admit, they do taste better eaten that way.
(Appetizers should come next, but we didn’t order any. We wanted the ribs and chicken as soon as we sat! But before everything was brought to our table, there was the usual bread and butter. Every- and anything free is worth mentioning, right? Remember though, bread makes you fat.)
Towards the end of our stay, we realized that we began to eat very slowly, savoring every bite and wishing our plates would never empty, and by the end of it all, we both regretted not having ordered separately. We seriously considered ordering more to take home.
Churrasco Villa has a warm atmosphere and a drool-inducing aroma thanks to its open kitchen. Despite the small space and the overwhelming number of hungry customers, the waiters were always welcoming and very accommodating. Our waitress must’ve been one of the sweetest people with the cutest accent to serve us. (She gave us an extra big slice of the strudel!) Merky and I were lucky to get there when we did. We were seated right away, but soon after, a line began to form at the door.
If you were curious, churrasco is a Portuguese style of cooking that uses natural wood charcoal. Their menu says, “Our simple preparation and fresh ingredients combined with Churrasco cooking provides a tasty and tantalizing eating experience.” Merky and I are completely convinced.
Great food. Great people. Great restaurant. Go and have a whole rack of baby back ribs to yourself. We’re definitely going back, and we’re definitely not sharing.
Stay tuned for Merky’s Winterlicious post!