FOODIES AND SIMPLY HUNGRY VISITORS ALIKE WILL NOT WANT FOR OPTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO TORONTO’S DINING SCENE
R&D’s Lobster Chow Mein. Photo by Allison Woo
The expansive St. Lawrence Market is packed full of specialty food items and made-to-order meals. St. Urbain Bagel is known for its Montreal-style bagels, which are baked fresh daily, are best hot out of the oven with a generous dollop of cream cheese. The peameal bacon sandwich from Carousal Bakery has been a market staple for over 30
years and is well worth the line up. Or, if you’re extra hungry, bite into a hearty deep-fried veal and eggplant sandwich at Uno Mustachio Sandwiches.
Join The Culinary Adventure Co. for a guided tour of some of the city’s most exciting neighbourhoods. Learn about the history and heritage of Chinatown and Kensington while enjoying everything from Mexican tortas to dim sum; adults $79, kids $59. Savour Toronto (1-855-472-8687; savourtoronto.com) offers a Best of the West tour for a taste of the hip and trendy dining scene along along Dundas Street West and Ossington Avenue; $75.
Treat yourself with Tasty Tours, which offers two excursions: The Kensington Market Sweet & Savoury food tour includes food samples from Chinese and Latin American eateries; $49 adults kids ages 7-12 $35, children age 7 and under free. Enjoy the chocolatiers around Trinity Bellwoods Park while learning about the history of chocolate and a chocolate-making demonstration in Toronto’s Ultimate Chocolate tour; $39 adults, kids ages 7-12 $25, children age 7 and under free.
Toronto’s vibrant dining scene is flourishing with world-class chefs, unique restaurant concepts, and innovative menus. Below are some dining highlights to whet your appetite.
MasterChef Canada winner Eric Chong, along with one of the competition’s judges, Alvin Leung, has created a “modern Canadian Asian” menu at R&D. Dive into dishes like fried chicken with glazed cronuts, and venison spring rolls, complimented by intriguing drinks like the 510 Caesar made with garlic and shiitake-infused vodka. Chef Rob Gentile is known for his attention to detail and his obsession with using the freshest seasonal ingredients for his authentic Italian cuisine; try the hand-made pasta at Buca to find out what the fuss is about, or stop by Bar Buca for small sharing plates and a nightcap. —Karen Stevens
Ufficio’s charming nautical-inspired decor.
WITH A MENU THAT CENTRES AROUND SEAFOOD, UFFICIO IS A FRESH ADDITION TO TORONTO’S ITALIAN DINING SCENE
Torontonians love their Italian restaurants; we each have our favourite spot for Neapolitan pizzas and spaghetti Bolognese. But when it comes to coastal cuisine, we’re somewhat underserved. Enter Ufficio, a highly stylish spot that puts the focus on seafood, with pescatarian dishes ranging from romesco-sauced B.C. Saltspring mussels on a chickpea fritter to grilled octopus with caponata. The intimate restaurant sits on one of Dundas West’s hipper stretches, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself swimming in specialty cocktails, too.—Craig Moy
1214 Dundas St. west, 416-535-8888; ufficiorestaurant.com
La Terrazza photo by KK Law
A short walk from Yaletown or BC Place, La Terrazza welcomes with detail-driven cuisine in an elegant, sensual setting. Specialties range from the decadent Alberta beef tenderloin with taleggio cream and red-onion marmalade to seared yellowfin tuna with roasted-red-pepper coulis. The wine list (by no means solely Italian) is superlative, and there are few better private dining rooms in town than the well-named Enoteca, lined with lust-worthy bottles.—Tim Pawsey
Q4 Ristorante photo by KK Law
Hop a cab to West Broadway to savour “New Italian” flavours at recently relocated Q4 (pictured). The dazzling surroundings include a wine bar and private dining room in the former Lumière space. Go for the wild mushroom ravioli with truffled sage porcini cream, or the substantial veal chop with asiago scalloped potatoes. Other neighbourhood destinations of note: Bishop’s, for BC regional cuisine in an intimate setting; and West, for contemporary Pacific Northwest dishes.—Tim Pawsey
The delectable crespelle at Borgo Trattoria. Photo: Courtesy Borgo Trattoria.
Swank uptown Italian eatery Borgo Trattoria offers a delicious brunch menu Saturdays and Sundays that is both ample and affordable. The steak and eggs are given an Italian treatment; thin, broiled strips of sirloin are served alongside scrambled eggs with truffle oil and crispy smoked prosciutto. The crespelle is another instant classic consisting of two delicate fried crepes filled with caramelized onion ricotta and topped with prosciutto, sage and maple syrup. The flavours are heavenly and the sweet to savoury ratio is just right. (more…)
Pizza at Camapagnolo Roma. Photo by KK Law
Not your average pizza joint: located in the up-and-coming East Village neighbourhood (www.eastvillagevancouver.ca), Campagnolo Roma never does things the easy way. In this Roman eatery, pizza dough, pastas and breads are made in-house. Butchery is done in-house as well. Features change constantly, showcasing local, seasonal ingredients. And the results of all the hard work are evident to your taste buds.—Sheri Radford
Prawn ravioli with oven-dried tomatoes and lobster cream, at Siena. Photo by KK Law
Gently rustic Siena (pictured) on South Granville yields a bounty of Italian and Mediterranean flavours, perfect before a show at the nearby Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. The room, simply furnished and aglow in saffron tones, bustles with a lively local crowd. No reservations are accepted, so go early for constantly changing selections such as chorizo-stuffed grilled squid or goat-cheese-stuffed agnolotti with oven-dried tomatoes. On the menu: all-natural free-range meats, fresh house-made pasta and daily arancine, a wealth of small and shared plates and well-priced wines (half-price on Mondays).
Other pre-show picks close by: Indian-fusion showstopper Vij’s (also no reservations), regional standard-bearer West and Cajun-Creole–themed Ouisi Bistro.—Tim Pawsey
The Dirty Apron Cooking School
Kitchen newbies, confident gourmands and ready-to-go pros enjoy picking up new tips and tricks, not to mention stuffing themselves with tasty morsels, at downtown’s cool Dirty Apron Cooking School. Add a few West Coast recipes to your repertoire and try your hand at preparing the best of the Pacific Ocean (May 4, 5, 7, 16, 30, 31). Take a trip around the world and learn to cook Italian at the Mamma Mia classes (May 1, 9, 15, 19, 24, 28), or feel like a Parisian in French class (May 2, 10, 14). And don’t forget your mom! She’ll love the just-for-her courses (May 12, 13).—Jennifer Patterson
Smoked salmon pizza (front), chicken saltimbocca with roasted beet salad (left) and asparagus risotto (top right), at Zefferelli's Spaghetti Joint. Photo by KK Law
Robson Street offers no shortage of high haunts. For solid pasta, pizza and other country-style Italian fare, head to Zefferelli’s Spaghetti Joint (pictured). Earls serves casual fare and offers a lively bar scene, while polished CinCin yields a busy open kitchen and wood-fired specialties in a warm Tuscan setting. —Tim Pawsey
With Italian restaurants seemingly on every corner in Winnipeg, it can be hard to separate prime pasta from ‘past their prime.’
Brooklynn’s Bistro is firmly entrenched in the former category. (more…)
NOVO Pizzeria & Wine Bar. Photo by KK Law
NOVO Pizzeria & Wine Bar (pictured), the smart and sassy Kitsilano newbie, is the ideal spot to enjoy a wood-fired pizza or other classic Italian comfort food before a movie next door at Fifth Avenue Cinemas. Go for the prawn and fennel salad, the battered calamari or the perfectly crusted Neapolitan personal pizzas. For live-theatre pre-show contenders, check out Yaletown’s Lupo or Crosstown’s Chambar, both handy to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and Vancouver Playhouse.—Tim Pawsey
NOVO PIZZERIA & WINE BAR $-$$. L (M-F), D (daily). 2118 Burrard St. 604-736-2220. www.novopizzeria.com
LUPO RESTAURANT & VINOTECA $$. D (daily). 869 Hamilton St. 604-569-2535. www.luporestaurant.ca
CHAMBAR BELGIAN RESTAURANT $$$. D (daily). 562 Beatty St. 604-879-7119. www.chambar.com
Pasta is a specialty at Cafe Spiga
Pasta, fish, grilled meats; it’s the best of both worlds at Cafe Spiga, a restaurant in the ByWard Market that fuses Portuguese and Italian fare. Popular dishes include salted cod, almond crusted chicken with figs, chorizo dishes, an assortment of pastas and sauces, and caldo verde, a hearty Portuguese soup. Specially selected wines from both countries round out the meal. It’s a white-linens type of restaurant, but popular on weekends with families for its fresh and tasty offerings. 271 Dalhousie St., 613-241-4381.