Kara Mia, Halal Italian Restaurant in Vaughan
My husband’s birthday was just around the corner and after coming up with a disappointing list of intimate halal restaurants within the GTA, I decided to treat him to Kara Mia at the Vaughan location. We go there occasionally because we know the food is halal, the service is great and I’m greeted with an ‘Assalamalaikum’ each time. Plus, any time to eat awesome food not cooked by yours truly is a definite treat!
Almost everyone has been to Kara Mia, that’s why reviewing the restaurant was harder than I initially thought. We’ve all tasted their food, been catered to their hospitality and swapped a few friendly words with Executive Chef, Abderrahman Khallouk.
I read some reviews for Kara Mia to understand what Muslims and non-Muslims thought of the restaurant. A lot of people reviewed it positively for quality food, exceptional service and the obvious halal factor. A couple of reviews stated that the place was small and not capable of handling large parties, as well as the décor being less than average. I have personally been there a couple of times with a party of 8-10 guests and they always managed to keep a table aside for us. Mind you – we did make reservations. The size of the location is on the small side, but it gives off a cozy and intimate atmosphere. The walls are painted in a neutral brown tone mimicking the peaceful and soothing sensation of being in one’s own home. Having gone to Kara Mia numerous times, I was surprised I didn’t notice the paintings hung on the wall depicting Italian cities until that very day. All in all, I wouldn’t go as far as saying the décor is subpar. If you are looking for a fancy shmancy restaurant to wear your best outfit to, then Kara Mia is most likely not the restaurant for you.
Once we arrived at Kara Mia, the waitress greeted us, asked if we had reservations and guided us to our table. My husband knew from the night before what he wanted to order: Peppercorn steak with a side of grilled vegetables and saffron poutine (originally comes with fries, but we upgraded!) After browsing through the menu, I decided to go for the Fettuccini Kara Mia. It was something I’ve never tried before and I felt like treading on the wild side tonight. I also wanted to order something where we both can steal – er, share portions of our meal. For our drinks, we ordered a Peach Bellini and Pina Colada – obviously all virgin.
While waiting for our drinks to arrive, I looked around and tried to view the restaurant in a different light. Depending on where you are seated, you can see the waitress making your drink, and the chef preparing your meal. You can tell the cooking/preparing area is clean and organized – kind of reminds me of my kitchen on a good day! I also noticed that every patron that entered the restaurant would make their way to the kitchen area to have a chat with the chef. Talk about friendly! We received our drinks with cute umbrellas, which were subsequently given to a child sitting on the table next to us (he asked so nicely and said please! How could we refuse?) The Pina Colada was sweet and creamy, with a bit of needed tang. The Peach Bellini was smooth, refreshing and had just a kiss of sweet peach flavour which was what I was hoping for. Bonus points for both drinks as they were enjoyed without the synthetic taste of commercial mixes. Overall, the drinks were rated with four thumbs-up.
My biggest pet peeve is when restaurants bring out the orders at different times – what are people supposed to do? Enjoy their food while the other person who hasn’t received theirs salivates? Fortunately, we received our orders together! The Fettuccini Kara Mia was an absolute surprise. The alfredo sauce was creamy and delicious and the best part yet: the dish had a good helping of grilled chicken breast. I wasn’t a big fan of the sundried tomatoes, so I swapped those with my husband for a chunk of saffron poutine. A word of caution: when ordering poutine, bear in mind that you will get full really quickly and will most likely end up with enough food for lunch the next day.
We asked for our peppercorn steak medium-well and that’s exactly how we got it. My husband managed to eat his entire meal and was thoroughly satisfied. The vegetables were grilled to perfection and luckily, we didn’t end up with a dinky amount of fries in our poutine. I was thinking back to the menu and realized that the peppercorn and saffron sauce is used in a lot of their dishes – but hey, if it’s not broken, why fix it!?
After finishing our meal, we did what we rarely do after eating at Kara Mia: order desert. We asked for the desert menu and the waitress responded by saying there wasn’t one. She verbally described the two types of cake they had: one was something I couldn’t pronounce and therefore didn’t bother to indulge in and the other was mocha sponge cake. We received a healthy slice of cake to share between the two of us and it was gone within two minutes. I found both the cake and the whipped cream frosting delicious; however, we both agreed it slightly possessed that tell-tale odour of being refrigerated. I would stick with heading across the street to Vaughan Mills for some gelato.
All in all, it was the intimate birthday dinner I had hoped for; although my husband was getting annoyed with the amount of pictures I was taking, but too bad, so sad!
3175 Rutherford Rd., Unit 39, Bldg. H, east of Highway 400, Vaughan
Shabnam is a restaurant reviewer for Halal Foodie, follow her on twitter at @Shabz_1221