“Los Tres” have captured lightning in a bottle. Their firstborn, Tres Carnales, captured hearts and stomachs nationwide not long after it took its first, nascent steps into Canada’s culinary realm. Rostizado, the second-born but equally talented sibling, secured a spot in Macleans magazine’s “Canada’s 100 Best” and was a contender for EnRoute Magazine’s “Best New Restaurants of 2015.” Closer to home, one is hard-pressed to find an evening where Rostizado’s chairs are empty. Instead, the animated conversations of diners undulate with streams of modern jazz, Latin funk, and flashes of flame from the open kitchen. Fairy light-trimmed construction cranes swivel outside and hint of incipient change, and one cannot help but wonder how much more boisterous Rostizado could possibly be once the nearby Ice District is complete.
I’ve no doubt that Rostizado would surf its perfect wave irrespective of outside forces, for the original Tres – Dani, Chris, and Edgar – have crafted a menu of victuals that handily challenges long-standing presumptions of what constitutes Mexican food. Who knew that rotisserie chicken was so popular south of the border, or that a skillet of melted cheese could be so noble? The entire menu confirms that everything shilled by the bygone Chihuahua of dubious fast food is wrong. Today, Rostizado launches a new menu. Queso Fundido is a cheese-lover’s fantasy come through. Melted mozza and Monterey Jack hold together spicy chorizo and toothsome roasted potatoes. House-made flour tortillas are as flaky as pie pastry, but far more flexible. Lively white sangria washes everything down quite nicely.
Scallops Aguachile (upper right) look deceptively airy and cool, but pack an assertive punch thanks to a sprinkle of diced habanero chilies, reined in by slices of crisp jicama and supple scallop. Pancita y Almejas (lower right) riffs on a traditionally Portuguese dish by punching up steamed clams with Serrano chilies and unctuous pork belly. Camarones al Mojo de Ajo (left) tosses buxom prawns with caramelized garlic; the entire works are nudged into the stratosphere by a few squeezes of charred lime.
Sope de Rajas (lower right) repurposes a French quiche with Mesoamerican flair. With flavours reminiscent of Tres Carnales’ tacos rajas con crema, this masa-crusted creation cradles onions, kale, smoky poblano chilies, and cream. Costillas en Salsa Verde (lower left) are a welcome switch from the usual sugar-and-tomato oversauced ribs. Rostizado’s interpretation anoints, but does not smother, a hearty dose of baby back ribs with zesty salsa verde. Those who dig to the bottom of the plate are rewarded with a surprise helping of additional pork morsels. Vegetales Rostizados (top), for those who prefer protein from a non-animal source (or for those who need an excuse to eat their veggies), presents a tumble of zucchini, mushrooms, garbanzo beans and onions with a ribbon of Sikil Pak – the Mayan answer to hummus.
Rotisserie beef (bottom) joins menu mainstays Rosti-Puerco and Rosti-Pollo, completing the protein trifecta. Served with a traffic light of salsas and potatoes (upper left) so divinely crispy that they could be a dish of their own, the just-medium rare flesh lounges in its own drippings and veritably begs to be eaten. Pastel de Tres Leches (upper right) is worth the gustatory marathon. The “three milks” (i.e., cream, evaporated, and condensed milk) that permeate this golden sponge cake render it irrevocably moist, rich and beguiling. Rostizado sweetens an already done deal by topping this quintessentially Latin dessert with corn ash whipped cream and macerated pineapple.
Rostizado's captured lightning manifests as memorably delectable Latin dishes spun with an electric yet sophisticated atmosphere, all rendered approachable and human by the three owners' engaging personalities. None of it feels contrived, superficial, or merely paying lip service to whatever happens to be trendy. No, trends come and go and are as fickle as their sheep-like disciples. Talent, like that of Rostizado, is timeless.