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Keeping it Simple at 7 Numbers

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Toronto is celebrated as the most multi-cultural city on the planet with half our residents born outside of Canada. How fortunate for us foodies that we can virtually travel the globe between breakfast and dinner.

Our first stop is 7 Numbers and the Marinuzzi family. Canada experienced two great waves of Italian immigration. The first occurred before World War I and the second from 1950 to 1970. Indeed, 70% of all of Canada’s post-war immigrants were of Italian descent, many of them settling in Toronto.

Hailing from Italy’s southern Bari province, the matriarch and patriarch of 7 Numbers, Domenic and Rosa, arrived at the tail end of that second great wave of immigration, coming separately and meeting here in the New World.
To fully understand traditional cuisine, one must consider not just how, but where the food is prepared. For many post-war Italian families, the real cooking was done in a basement kitchen. The main floor kitchen was left in pristine condition to properly receive guests. The upstairs and downstairs kitchens perfectly represent the two essential elements that have made the Marinuzzi’s two family-run restaurants so successful: a down-to-earth approach to cooking with an emphasis on warm hospitality and Old World charm.

Whether dining at the 7 Numbers on Eglinton or on the Danforth, you’ll feel as if you have been invited to share in an authentic family meal.

According to Vito, one of Rosa and Domenic’s two sons and a co-owner of 7 Numbers, the  Marinuzzi’s secret for great cooking is not such a secret. “Keep it simple,” he says. The chefs, Rosa and Vito’s brother Tony, prepare everything from scratch using only fresh, raw and where possible, locally sourced ingredients. In fact, most dishes require only a few ingredients. This way, the whole ethos remains true to the family roots – to the basement kitchen where it all started and where, Vito fondly recalls, his mother was always able “to make something special from nothing.”

Indeed, Vito’s kids Vlad and Angelina are 7 Numbers’ official taste testers, but generally approve of whatever Nonna Rosa prepares. The ever-changing menu is reflective of the family’s southern Italian heritage, with bold yet clean flavours infused in signature dishes such as lasagna, calamari, meatballs and their much beloved tomato sauce.

The chefs prepare everything from scratch using only fresh, raw and where possible, locally sourced ingredients. In fact, most dishes require only a few ingredients.”

The Marinuzzi family meals often occur at one of their restaurants and the big meal of the week is Sunday brunch. The family keeps it simple with raw starters, a pasta such as rigatoni or taglietelle, and some vegetables including the 7 Numbers’ specialty, rapini. The secondi is often a favourite of Vito’s: his mother’s traditional bruciole, just as it was prepared back in Italy by his own Nonna. They finish the meal with raw celery and for Rosa, fennel.

For a true taste of what it’s like to cook in Rosa’s kitchen, she offers cooking classes on the last Monday of every month.

7Numbers
516 Eglinton Ave W
Toronto, ON M5N 1A5
416.322.5183

Try the Marinuzzi Meatball Recipe Below.  Add Natalie’s “Nutrified option”

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Nutrify your meatballs with – Rapini As a nutritionist, I always try and “Nutrify” my meals. This typically involves the inclusion of fresh vegetables, whole grains and super foods on my plate. There is simply no better way to get your vitamins, minerals and nutrients – then to eat them in whole food form.When I asked Vito of Seven Numbers what his favourite vegetable was, he had three answers for me – “rapini, rapini and did I mention rapini?” You may know rapini by one of its many other names such as broccoli raab [rabe] or broccoletti. Whatever you call it – this staple in southern Italian cooking has many health benefits.Rapini boasts plenty of iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and fiber. Its high source of calcium and especially vitamin K are fundamental components of strong bones, whilst the flavonoids and phytochemicals may help ward off stroke, promote eye health, alleviate hypertension and reduce the risk of cancer.Although rapini has a distinctive bitter nature, this can easily be alleviated through blanching. Adding garlic, lemon and chillies helps round out and balance the flavour. When purchasing, ensure that the stems and leaves are green and fresh.

Simple Sautéed Rapini

1 bunch of rapini
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
¼ tsp. salt

Start by trimming the stalks of the rapini, about ¼ inch. Wash and place in a large pot of boiling, salted water for approximately 2 minutes (until tender). Remove from the pot with tongs and place directly into a large bowl of ice water. (This stops the cooking process, retains the bright green colour and helps remove the bitterness). Remove and pat dry.

In a skillet sauté the garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the rapini and cook for 1 minute ensuring that it is coated in the oil. Do not overcook.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

 
 
By Natalie Singer who is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, foodie and former world traveller.
She is the co-owner of a new natural products discovery service called Nutrilish. 

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