With a novel eatery about to ooze into the downtown core, Toronto is poised to get a whole lot cheesier. Obika bases its entire existence on a ball of springy cheese from Italy, and if a mozzarella bar sounds like a funky idea, be patient. Sushi bars—a restaurant dedicated to a single dish?! Surely not—were once exotic oddities, too.
Buffalo mozzarella—or Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP if you’re a stickler for technicalities—is mozzarella cheese made from the milk of water buffalo, as opposed to the pedestrian cow. The buffalo juice is said to be richer than Bessy’s milk, and to contain abundant protein, fat and minerals courtesy of the lumbering beast’s efficient digestive system.
Obika prides itself on serving foods at the height of freshness and quality. The restaurant imports its every cheesy morsel from select Italian producers whose wares have enjoyed the sanction of the European Union since the late 1970s, when the Italian government sought to protect consumers from fraudsters purporting to sell cow’s-milk mozzarella as the more premium buffalo cheese.
The mozzarella at Obika is all handmade, and diners can choose from four tastes: delicate paestum, stronger-tasting pontina, smoked and powerful affumicata, and sweet and creamy stracciatella di burrata.
Along with the porcelain-white star of the show, Obika fills out its menu with a slew of other authentic Italian nibblies, including prosciutto from Parma, salami from Tuscany, and anchovies from some glamourous-sounding place near Amalfi. Main courses are largely vegetarian and, natch, feature cheese prominently.
Its imminent unveiling here (in the Hockey Hall of Fame-anchored Brookfield Place, date still TBA) will put the Toronto Obika in the company of more than a dozen international locations, including Rome, Milan, London, New York and Tokyo.