Paese’s King Street location keeps people noshing late into the night with its well-rounded menu. We spoke with chef Christopher Palik about his spherical snacks.
1. Veal balls ($10 for two)
Even before the late-night menu launched this past summer, Palik would switch to this lighter version of his house balls every spring. Ground veal and pork are mixed with ricotta cheese and braised in milk for “an incredibly light and delicate meatball,” he says. The balls are topped with cippolini onions for another Italian touch and fresh sweet peas as a reminder that warm weather will eventually return.
2. Falafel ($9 for two)
These meatless balls are Palik’s nod to nocturnal shawarma cravings, but to keep things Italian, dried fava beans are tossed in with the chickpeas. Pickled veggies and cured tomatoes from the restaurant’s garden add some life and stand in for a falafel’s typical toppings. These balls come on a bed of cooling green-goddess crema, made with mayonnaise, anchovies, green capers, and “all the soft green herbs we can find.”
3. Pepperoni arancini ($9 for two)
This is a classic pizza in spherical form. Palik cooks risotto rice with ground-up pepperoni and tomato sauce before grating some house-smoked mozzarella into the mix. Salsa verde, made with green herbs, vinegar, and capers, balances out the richness of the arancini, while chili mayo provides a hit of spice.
4. Traditional balls ($10 for two)
These offal orbs have been on the menu since the restaurant opened in 2010. “It’s a custom blend of beef that we developed with our butcher,” says Palik. “You’ve got some big gnarly cuts, some softer ones for texture, and suet”—that’s fat from around the kidneys—“for that real beefy flavour.” Day-old focaccia and pecorino cheese are added, then the balls are braised in house tomato sauce and garnished with breadcrumbs, parsley, and more cheese.
5. Chicken-wing balls ($10 for two)
A late-night menu without wings isn’t a late-night menu at all. Palik blends ground chicken with a chili sauce that’s reminiscent of Frank’s Red Hot (for that classic Buffalo-wing flavour), then serves it alongside a blue-cheese dip made with Gorgonzola. The chicken balls are garnished with a diced, pickled giardiniera mix of green olives and veggies. “That’s my fancy take on celery sticks,” he says.
Prices are for late-night menu. 333 King St. W., 416-599-6585.