Toca! A Finnish take on Italian cuisine! Gennaro and Elina are a Finnish – Italian couple with a burning passion for great food and are 100% proudly standing behind each dish that comes out of the kitchen. Upon entering TOCA, I had an instant vibe of being somewhere in Brooklyn, NYC and not in the middle of Helsinki.
Tons of writings on a big chalkboard wall on one side of the restaurant, “ruined” brick wall on the other side and a minimalistic, but tastefully decorated tables and seats were def. a surprising interior to walk into, esp. when thinking about the usual Italian restaurants that I’m used to. Yes, the ones that have all those “Italian grandma’s house” features and Eros Ramazzotti is blasting from the speakers.
Another thing that caught me by the surprise was that the menu was completely hidden, you just have to simply trust your waiter on this one and pick between 3 or 5 course menu that can be paired with a long selection of the finest, imported Italian wines as well as non alcoholic bubblies!
All of this got me very excited and interested to hear the story behind how did Toca restaurant come along and of course I couldn’t wait to start tasting the food as well.
Miss Elina told us that her and her partner Gennaro have previously owned/ ran two different Italian restaurants. None of them were in Helsinki and none of them were fine dining, Italian modern kitchen as Toca is. You will see from the photos and as well if you do visit Toca, you will taste that each dish is perfect mix of Italian and Finnish, the inspiration from Italian dishes combined with the best, local and in season Finnish produce.
We had a real pleasure to start our dinner by trying the in house white bread and focaccia as well as small bites like cheese and ham “arancini” balls and pickled/marinated pepper, stuffed with goat’s cheese and black olive crumbles.
As a first starter, we were presented a delicious, comforting and innovative pumpkin soup. Vegetarian version comes with barley, goat’s cheese, rosemary oil and pumpkin, while the non vegetarian one comes with pork cheeks.
2nd starter was my absolute favourite and as Miss Elina told us, a real crowd pleaser – sugar and salt coated and seared salmon with pickled cucumbers, green tomatoes, cucumber sorbet, malt bread and radishes.
An “in between” meal was elk carpaccio with black trumpet mushrooms, pickled onions, kohlrabi and lingonberry pure. Something that all of the meat eaters will def. enjoy!
Main course was once again the best of Finnish and Italian kitchen – pan fried cod filets with fried cauliflower and broccoli in fennel oil and sour milk sauce. Cod was melting in my mouth and when asked if they’ve used a magical suis-vide machine which always gives a perfect tenderness to any fish and meat, I was informed that it was a chef’s own masterful touch and no suis-vide was used. 🙂
To finish off a perfect menu, we got creme brûlée with raspberry sorbet, almond crumble and pineapple bits. Very light, perfectly sweet and refreshing dessert!
Are you guys convinced already to try out this wonderful restaurant?? 😀
I hope that this “Visit Helsinki” series of posts have raised your interest in a wonderful and colourful food scene that is present in the capital of Finland. There will be many more posts coming in the following weeks in which I will for the first time, present you some of the best hotels to stay at, some more restaurants and finally shops that are perfect for Christmas presents hunting for your loved ones or yourself. 🙂
*This post was made in collaboration with Toca restaurants. All of the opinions are my own.
*Thank you Gennaro and Elina for a hospitality, inspiration and delicious food.
*All of the photos were taken by: Natali K.photography