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Where to Eat Toronto

Old School Serves New BBQ Classics

NEW BARBECUE JOINT OLD SCHOOL IS OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY AND BOASTS AN INCLUSIVE SPREAD OF BARBECUE FAVOURITES

OLD SCHOol Toronto Barbecue BBQ restaurant

photo courtesy of Old School

As the evolutionary pace of modern life continues to increase, so does our collective appetite for nostalgia. From our fashion to our films and even our food, everything old, it seems, inevitably becomes new again. Enter Old School, a medley of smokehouse, diner, malt shop and cocktail bar—those touchstones of mid 20th-century Americana—on the hip Dundas West strip. Helmed by chefs Brad Moore and Ian Kapitan, the round-the-clock restaurant goes whole hog with numerous styles of barbecue—Texas, St. Louis, Kansas City and more—complemented by a selection of hand-stirred organic sodas (though booze is also available). The big, daily brunch includes such indulgences as chicken and waffles plus a huge stack of buttermilk pancakes.  —Craig Moy

• Old School, 800 Dundas St. W., 416-815-8790; oldschoolyyz.com
Map and reviews

Quick Pick: 3 Chefs on the Move

CHEFS CAN BE A RESTLESS BUNCH, HOPPING FROM RESTAURANT TO RESTAURANT TO DEVELOP THEIR CULINARY SKILLS. FOLLOW THESE TOP TORONTO TOQUES WHO’VE RECENTLY TAKEN OVER NEW KITCHENS.

Turf Lounge Toronto Chef Tom Brodi

Turf Lounge chef Tom Brodi

• Best known for its cocktails, Parkdale’s Geraldine now features deliciously novel farm- and ocean-to-table dishes by Alex Molitz. 1564 Queen St. W., 647-352-8815; geraldinetoronto.com

• The Harbord Room got a shot in the arm this spring with the installation of Robbie Hojilla as its co-chef. Previously of now-shuttered Hudson Kitchen and Ursa, Hojilla is recognized for highlighting vegetables and grains in his inventive dishes. 89 Harbord St., 416-962-8989; theharbordroom.com

• Tom Brodi, last seen heading up the fine-dining affairs at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel’s Toca, has taken the reins at classy restaurant and off-track betting establishment Turf Lounge. 330 Bay St., 416-367-2111; turflounge.com

Kasa Moto Offers Upscale Sushi and More in Yorkville

INDULGE IN DESIGNER JAPANESE CUISINE WITHIN THE POSH YORKVILLE NEIGHBOURHOOD CONFINES OF KASA MOTO 

Kasa Moto Toronto Restaurant Yorkville

Kasa Moto’s kinoko salad and stylish dining room

 

Toronto’s ritziest neighbourhood continues to up the opulence ante—this time with a supremely stylish spot for Japanese fare. Kasa Moto presents Yorkville’s demanding denizens with a menu of high-end, contemporary offerings, running the gamut from wagyu beef carpaccio to robata-grilled pork belly to black cod with ricotta miso. Sophisticated sushi and sashimi options are also available, naturally. The latest offering from the owners of The Chase and Colette Grand Café, Kasa Moto’s multiple spaces—a split-level dining room, second-storey bar and lounge, and grandiose rooftop patio—replicate its siblings’ tastefully posh interior design with plush seating, rich woods, hand-painted murals and more.  —Craig Moy

• Kasa Moto, 115 Yorkville Ave.,647-348-7000; kasamoto.ca
Map and reviews

You Are Here: 13 West Queen West Spots to Check Out Right Now

QUEEN STREET IS SUPER-COOL FOR PRETTY MUCH ITS ENTIRE LENGTH. WEST OF TRINITY BELLWOODS PARK, THE STRETCH KNOWN AS WEST QUEEN WEST IS PARTICULARLY CROWDED WITH CACHET-ENHANCING CAFÉS, BOUTIQUES, GALLERIES AND RESTAURANTS.

West Queen West Toronto Dandylion Restaurant

Dandylion restaurant, chef Jay Carter’s recent addition to the West Queen West strip (photo: Craig Moy)

1 Partake in chef Jay Carter’s sophisticated, ingredient-focused cooking at his intimate Dandylion restaurant. 1198 Queen St. W., 647-464-9100; restaurantdandylion.com

2 The Theatre Centre is a champion of innovative new works in a historic library. From August 10 to 26 it hosts Monday Nights, a participatory drama slash pick-up basketball game. 1115 Queen St. W., 416-534-9261; theatrecentre.org

3 Chef Vittorio Colacitti’s restaurant, The Good Son, aims to please by drawing together the corners of the culinary world. The ambitiously cosmopolitan carte prioritizes seasonal and local ingredients, but uses them in varied dishes such as jerk shrimp, bulgogi short ribs and a half-dozen wood-fired pizzas. 1096 Queen St. W., 416-551-0589; thegoodsontoronto.com

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Far Niente Updates its Financial District Flavours

VENERABLE BAY STREET RESTAURANT FAR NIENTE BOASTS A HUNGRY NEW CHEF AND A REVITALIZED MENU

Far Niente Restauran Toronto Financial District Chef Jun Geem

Chef Jun Geem presides over the kitchen and new menu at Far Niente (photos: Craig Moy)

For two decades, fine dining room Far Niente has been pleasing power lunchers, pre-theatre patrons, and post-work patio goers in the Financial District. It’s a well-liked, reliable place to eat. A new chef and updated menu, however, have given the institution a bit of a shake-up. Now heading the restaurant’s kitchen (as well as that of Four, Far Niente’s more casual PATH-level counterpart) is executive chef Jun Geem, an alumnus of George Brown College’s culinary program who’s cooked everywhere from London’s Fat Duck and Nobu to luxury hotels in Dubai, Mexico and Bermuda.

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The One Eighty Boasts New Food & Great Views

HIGH ABOVE BLOOR-YORKVILLE, STYLISH RESTO-LOUNGE THE ONE EIGHTY IS KNOWN FOR ITS PANORAMIC VIEWS OF THE CITY

The One Eighty Restaurant Toronto Manulife Centre

One of Toronto’s highest perches for food and drink is aiming even higher—figuratively, of course—with a renewed focus on its gastronomic offerings. Previously a swish cocktail spot known as the Panorama Lounge, the 51st-floor venue, now dubbed The One Eighty, has been renovated and reimagined as a luxurious yet whimsical dining destination, featuring cosmopolitan fare that ranges from halibut tacos to flatbread-style pizzas to mains like porchetta with summer succotash or buttermilk fried chicken and waffles. The cocktail list has been updated, too. In fact, about the only thing unchanged is the view: the restaurant’s skyscraping north- and south-facing patios are among the better vantage points from which to see the city.  —Craig Moy

• The One Eighty, 55 Bloor St. W., 416-967-0000; the51stfloor.com
Map and reviews

You Are Here: Eat, Shop and Explore Corktown

IT HASN’T ALWAYS BEEN THE NICEST STRETCH OF DOWNTOWN, BUT CORKTOWN, ONE OF TORONTO’S ORIGINAL NEIGHBOURHOODS, IS IN THE MIDST OF A REVITALIZATION—NOT LEAST BECAUSE OF ITS PROXIMITY TO THE PAN AM GAMES’ SPRAWLING ATHLETES’ VILLAGE.

Corktown Toronto Ethel 20th Century Living

Ethel 20th Century Living (photo: Craig Moy)

1 Billed as as a space “where Mad Men meets your best friend’s basement,” Ethel 20th Century Living sets patterned kitchenware and vintage tchotchkes amongst retro furniture, classic movie posters and more. Most of it would’ve been right at home in Don Draper’s Manhattan pad. 327 Queen St. E., 416-778-6608; ethel20thcenturyliving.com

2 Definitely one of the area’s pricier retailers, Haven supports the sartorial ambitions of savvy lads with international streetwear labels like Comme des Garçons, Neighborhood and Human Made. Designer sneakers are a particular forte. 145 Berkeley St., 647-344-4745; havenshop.ca

3 Cocina Economica, the sixth and newest member of the Playa Cabana group of restaurants, a popular mini-chain known for its Mexican fare and colourful ambience. This spot mostly eschews tacos in favour of homestyle fare like slow-cooked meats sold—and meant to be shared—by the pound. 141 Berkeley St., 647-748-4777; playacabana.ca

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R&D Boasts Modern Chinese Fare from Two Big Chefs

CHINATOWN RESTAURANT R&D SEES MICHELIN-STARRED CHEF ALVIN LEUNG JOIN WITH MASTERCHEF CANADA WINNER ERIC CHONG TO OFFER CONTEMPORARY CHINESE BITES

R&D Restaurant Chinatown Toronto Alvin Leung Eric Chong

R&D’s modern Chinese menu includes interpretations of sweetbreads and octopus (photos: Allison Woo)

It’s big news when the inaugural winner of Masterchef Canada opens his first restaurant. It’s even bigger news when that restaurant is a joint venture with one of the world’s most celebrated chefs. No surprise, then, that R&D would be one of the city’s buzzier spring openings. From chefs Eric Chong—the aforementioned Masterchef victor—and Alvin Leung, whose highly experimental Bo Innovation in Hong Kong holds three Michelin stars, the modish Chinatown dining room boasts contemporary Chinese-Canadian cuisine as its main draw. A few novel dim sum offerings lead in to a more robust menu of shareable dishes like lobster chow mein, General Sanders’ chicken (with kung pao sauce and Sichuan maple syrup), and a ceviche of scallops plus spot- and tiger prawns. Naturally, a selection of original Asian-inspired cocktails is also available.  —Craig Moy

• R&D, 214 Spadina Ave., 416-586-1241; rdspadina.com
Map and reviews

Taste of Toronto Returns to Fort York

NOW IN ITS SECOND YEAR, TASTE OF TORONTO BOASTS GOURMET FOOD, WINE AND CULINARY FUN IN THE HEART OF THE CITY

Taste of Toronto Fort York 2015

Chefs including Cory Vitiello and Carl Heinrich are returning for Taste of Toronto’s second year

JULY 2 TO 5 If there’s a recipe for presenting a successful food event, more than 20 worldwide Taste Festivals seem to have found it. Of course, tweaking a few ingredients can make for an even more flavourful mix. Thus Taste of Toronto has added a handful of new chefs to its sophomore attempt at wooing the city’s foodies. Manning Fort York‘s gourmet small-plates stations this year are the likes of chefs Jonathan Waxman and Matt Robertson from Montecito, Ted Corrado from the Drake Hotel and Adrian Niman from Rasa—not to mention returning toques like THR & Co. chef Cory Vitiello and Carl Heinrich of Richmond Station. Michelin-starred chef Masaharu Morimoto will also be on hand to debut dishes from his new Toronto restaurant, opening later this year. Cooking classes, wine tastings and more encourage epicurean interactivity, while a marketplace boasts 60-plus vendors to savour. General admission $19 to $30 (additional cost for food).  —Craig Moy

• Taste of Toronto, Fort York National Historic Site, 250 Fort York Blvd.; tasteoftoronto.com
• Map and reviews

Summerlicious and More Prix-Fixe Menus in Toronto

THE RETURN OF SUMMERLICIOUS MEANS TORONTO DINERS CAN ONCE AGAIN SAVE ON SAMPLING THE MENUS AT TOP RESTAURANTS. BUT THE SEASONAL DINING DEAL ISN’T THE ONLY WAY TO GET CULINARY BANG FOR YOUR BUCK!

Summerlicious Toronto Prix Fixe Menus

From left: dessert at 360 restaurant; George executive chef Lorenzo Loseto; the Shore Club’s dining room

DEALS FOR MEALS
One of the city’s best loved dining programs is back—this year for an extra week to give Pan Am Games visitors a chance to enjoy the flavourful fun. From July 3 to 26, Summerlicious sees more than 200 restaurants offering prix-fixe lunch ($18 to $28) and dinner ($25 to $45) menus. Among the returning participants are Canoe, Momofuku Daisho and The Shore Club, while the likes of as Bestellen and District Oven are involved for the first time.

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Gourmet Barbecued Pies from Za Pizzeria

RECENT ANNEX ADDITION ZA PIZZERIA SPECIALIZES IN FRESH-MADE, BARBECUE-COOKED TAKE-OUT PIZZAS WITH GOURMET TOPPINGS

Za Pizzeria Toronto Annex

Za Pizzeria (photos: Craig Moy)

Toronto has no shortage of gourmet pizza parlours, but the options dwindle considerably if you’re pressed for time or just seeking a single slice. Enter Za Pizzeria. Or rather: you should enter Za Pizzeria. Recently opened by husband-and-wife team Jason and Lisa Costantini, the Annex-area joint does a brisk business in take-out pies cooked in custom-designed barbecue ovens, which impart a pleasant hint of wood smoke to the savoury thin-crust offerings. Jason spent more than a decade as a chef in the kitchens of Susur, Pizzeria Libretto and elsewhere, so it’s no surprise that made-to-order freshness is the, well, order of the day: all sauces, sautéed and caramelized veg, and sous vide-cooked meats are prepared in-house, and comprise pizzas ranging from a traditional margherita to unique and delicious options like the maple syrup-, bacon- and potato chip-topped “Oh Canada” and a pie with duck confit, roasted grapes and balsamic reduction. Smaller appetites are assured just-off-the-grill goodness: slices and half pizzas are guaranteed to sit for no more than 30 minutes.  —Craig Moy

• Za Pizzeria, 402 Bloor St. W., 416-345-9292; za-pizzeria.com

Quick Pick: 3 Church Street Restaurants That are Perfect for Pride Patrons

ATTENDING THIS MONTH’S PRIDE TORONTO FESTIVITIES? FUEL UP FOR THE FUN AT THESE CHURCH STREET RESTAURANTS

Church Street Restaurants Pride Toronto Dining

(Smith photo courtesy of Smith; The Keg photo courtesy of The Keg)

• At the south end of the Gaybourhood sits Guu Izakaya, a boisterous, cosmopolitan Japanese pub where you can down some takoyaki, karaage, deep-fried tofu and refreshingly affordable cocktails. 398 Church St., 416-977-0999; guu-izakaya.com

• Special-occasion diners, as well as those who simply enjoy a high-quality cut of meat, crowd the historic mansion location of the popular Keg steakhouse chain. Legend has it that at least one ghost haunts the Jarvis Street restaurant’s halls. 515 Jarvis St., 416-964-6609; kegsteakhouse.com

• Though spread across three floors, Smith manages to cultivate an appealingly intimate atmosphere—even during its very popular weekend brunch service. 553 Church St., 416-926-2501; 553church.com

—Craig Moy