This Pig’s been flying over Bank Street, south of Heron Road, for more than a decade, set back a bit in a bunker-like, flat-roofed wooden construct that suggests cottage more than restaurant. But an eatery it has been, owned by Frances and Bill Boehmer, since 1999.
Bigger inside than it appears from its parking lot, Flying Piggy’s now includes a private dining room, where once was a patio, heated with a wood-burning stove.
Its walls are pumpkin-orange, its tables glossy black, each set with a brass lamp and placemat painting of a pig. Other than the chalkboards listing the food specials and featured wines, the walls are covered with a Sharpie fresco of Venetian scenes. And here and there on frieze and shelves are pigs, doing pig-like things — flying, say, and looking plump and cookable.
It’s a snug space, the lighting soft, warming. I like the greeting here, the down-home goodness of the service. We are made to feel thoroughly tucked in by the women who run this place.
You’d be wise to start with the antipasto plate — craft meats, smoked salmon, marinated mushrooms, peppers, eggplant, provolone, a pungent brie in ripe-for-eating condition, excellent bread for topping and sopping, and a pile of pickled red onion and caperberries. Impressive too is the salad of artichokes and mushrooms, more flavourful than you might think, and the day’s soups. One night, a carrot and ginger soup is kicked with chilies and star anise.
Inspired by the porcine walls, we order the pork special at one visit and find the meat rich, pink and luscious. They make their own pork sausages here, and they elevate the spicy fettuccine calabrese. The pasta dish, called the Flighty Boar, brings prosciutto and mushrooms, wine and cream together very successfully. We’ve had a pasta dish from the insert that ate as well as it read: spaghettini with squash, artichokes, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, black olives, pesto and goat cheese. Noodles are homemade and well cooked. We’ve had better luck with them than with the veal on offer. The sauce — lemon, wine, capers — was fine, but the meat beneath was tough.
Dinner specials can be hit and miss. The kitchen has a penchant for fusion food, which can read suspiciously, and sometimes tastes like it reads. Scallop cilantro wontons with a chili sauce are fishy-tasting and too sweet. Though we like the fat, fresh mussels, the sauce ( “orange scented coconut-tomato with almonds and spinach”) is a bit odd.
I can’t bring myself to order the featured fish, striped bass, because of the wacky-sounding treatment: “grilled banana-onion salsa with spaghettini tossed in a tomato-peach sauce.” Maybe it was delicious, but I wasn’t going to risk it.
The Albacore tuna is pleasant in the pasta special. And though we approve of the tomatoes, olives and capers in the sauce, the cauliflower and raisins crowd the flavours. Ricotta, parmesan, corn, peas and rice are the stuffing in the daily ravioli. Rice, I ask? (Yup.) This eats like leftover risotto wrapped in pasta dough, smothered in a brawny bolognese. And you know what … it’s pretty tasty. But I’ll stick to my guns and say these specials are worrying reads. Remove a few ingredients and they’ll work much better.
Desserts are solidly good, uncomplicated treats. Lemon tart. Chocolate flourless cake. Carrot cake. All were yummy. We made pigs of ourselves.