Dorio's Italian Bakery
Dorio's Italian Bakery, a family-run deli, eatery and bakery in North York appropriately offered me a refreshing change of pace following a refreshing break from... well, everything that Christmas gets you out of.
A spontaneous GTA-drive-around with my mother and sister takes us into many corners of the city, just for the hell of it. "It" being a few city-spanning, random errands, and a hunger for nostalgia and food on the criss-crossing roads in between.
As the GPS pulls us in, recognition creeps onto my mum's face and she seems very certain that we've visited this little strip plaza a number of times before, with my father's former place of employment just down the street.
I want to walk in and have one of those blasts from the past - some yet-unidentified relic from my memories sitting in the corner. Like the Pac Man machine I never got to see again before they tore down Finch West Mall, just down the street.
I don't have vivid memory because it's not quite that old (though the library next door is); these guys moved here in 1991, the same year we moved out of the area. But it has that comfortable familiarity about it that I recognize anyway.
The roots of the business started in Kensington market nearly 35 years ago, and there is another location slightly north on Kettleby Rd. In addition, they offer made-to-order wedding cakes and will be showing them off at the Bridal Show this weekend.
Imported items like jars of "Effervescente" catch our attention, with its kitschy and exotic label - and I sincerely hope that its contents are some magic formula to turn ordinary water into an endless supply of lemon Italian soda.
We ask, and it's not. But it does bring a smile to the owner Josie's face, "it's a staple of most Italian households... ask anybody with an Italian grandmother... I'll bet they used to get it when they were sick." Speaking of nostalgia.
There's a deli with made-to-order sandwiches, and a hot table offering up homestyle and very reasonably-priced meals. The sausage looks incredible, even though I don't eat sausage.
A hearty slice of lasagna is a mere $4.50, accompanied by a crusty roll. The sandwich special (veal) is $5.00, loaded with veggies and cheese, and there's even a similarly-styled chicken one for my lil' sis (who harbours some issues with veal).
Racks of homemade bread, doughnuts and particularly robust cherry and apple danishes decorate the counters, and the pastry case is filled with desserts like (our final three choices) tiramisu, cannoli, and zeppole.
The latter being particularly popular around St. Joseph's day, and made here in the traditional, fried manner. It's light and flaky with a surprising hint of almost citrusy freshness at its center.
Tiramisu offers only a glimpse of the dessert's usual essence, as it mostly consists of a cream-like substance- with the marscapone apparently nixed; admittedly, the only way to serve a hunk of the stuff for $1.50. As a matter of fact, the whole shebang comes to a measly $4.50 and we're a bit perplexed.
"For all three?"
"Downtown, you can get away with charging twice as much, but it's very important to us to keep our prices affordable. We want to keep people coming back."
Truly great cannoli goes for the same price. Impeccably cheesy and fresh, it's our favourite and while we look forward to taking what's left of all three home (lunch was very filling after all), we contemplate getting another one of these guys for later.
Attempting to be polite, I let my sister know, "well, you can have the rest of the cannoli", she shakes her head with one of those "oh-I-couldn't" looks on her face and betrays it with a very casual, "okay."