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Cafes

Locomotive

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on July 16, 2011

Locomotive TorontoLocomotive is a Junction café that wants to be known for more than its espresso. That is not to say, however, that owners Vito Carnovale and Paul Araujo are modest about their Italian espresso.

"I love coffee," Vito says as I catch his by the steel bar of his new train-themed café. "And our espresso--it's the real deal."

"But food is so often overlooked," he continues. It becomes second. Here, the concept is coffee and food."

Locomotive TorontoLocomotive offers fresh sandwiches, salads, and baked goods, most of which is prepared fresh onsite, right down to the very basics.

"We cure our own bacon here," Vito says. "We roast the chicken, the porchetta--that's the pork shoulder--we marinate it in red wine for days. We make our own mayo, we do all of that."

Locomotive TorontoThere are a few imports, however, including the Montreal-style bagels for the bagel BLT ($4.99) and the croissants from Ma Maison. They share a menu with signature sandwiches including Roast Chicken ($5.99), Turkey Club ($6.99), and Porchetta ($5.99).

Locomotive TorontoI've arrived at Locomotive severely under-caffeinated, however, so I scan the list of espresso-based drinks and opt for an iced espresso ($2.00). "It's done the authentic Italian way," the barista tells me as she retrieves a container from the front cooler. To make its iced espresso, Locomotive pulls its shots then freezes them overnight with a bit of sugar to cut through some of the acidity.

Locomotive TorontoThe frozen espresso is then retrieved for each drink and mixed with cream or milk to create a very bold, but very refreshing summer drink. Generally, I find iced coffee drinks to lack a bit of punch, but this one has quite a full-bodied flavour, along with a little bit of nuttiness.

Locomotive TorontoWhile the coffee and food might be Italian in flavour, the café in form is a testament to the Junction history, decorated with archival railroad photos, train track-inspired lighting, and tables and shelves made from 1879 Douglas fir. Still, Paul and Vito manage to intertwine a bit of their own personal histories with that of the area with things like Vito's mother's signature tomato sauce for sale in the café. And the espresso itself also sparks some nostalgia for Vito.

"I have early memories of being spoon-fed espresso," he says with a smile. "I grew up in an Italian home, after all."

Locomotive TorontoLocomotive TorontoLocomotive TorontoPhotos by Jesse Milns.

Discussion

22 Comments

Sandman / July 16, 2011 at 01:52 pm
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Another great addition to the neighbourhood. Looking forward to checking it out.
Juli / July 16, 2011 at 04:18 pm
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Their sandwiches are so good and fresh we've grabbed lunch there almost every day since they opened. Welcome to the neighborhood!
jason / July 16, 2011 at 06:45 pm
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Junction, you've come a long way.
Raven replying to a comment from jason / July 16, 2011 at 09:48 pm
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It really has. Makes me wish I hadnt moved away!
dnr / July 17, 2011 at 08:54 am
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It really has come a long way (junction). From boarded up stores and people getting robbed in broad daylight to cafe's, health food grocery stores and a wicked video shop.
Charles Jergl / July 18, 2011 at 07:47 am
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Moved to the area late last year and I love. Very relaxed vibe and incredibly creative merchants. Locomotive is a welcome addition to the area.
Johnny / July 18, 2011 at 10:25 am
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We went on Saturday. Met Vito. He's a great guy, and gave use free chilled jasmine tea while we waited for our sandwiches. Both the porchetta, and roasted chicken were moist and tasty. Welcome to the junction, guys. We'll definately be back!
Alison / August 19, 2011 at 07:38 pm
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I absolutely love this place. I am so excited that Vito is here. While I was there I met the owner of the new wine bar that will be opening in Pat's old space for Picture it Framed. I am so excited to live here. It's been twenty years for me and the landscape is changing. I love it.

If you are thinking of grabbing lunch in the Junction, go to Locomotive.
Rita / December 10, 2011 at 08:37 pm
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At a corner where there is 4 cafes, Locomotive's coffee and sandwiches are by far the standard of the neighborhood. I was a regular patron of Crema, then decided to give the Starbucks a try when they moved into the neighborhood. I found a home at Locomotive the first day I walked in. All their food is homemade and there coffee is served up with a smile.
Geficert / February 15, 2012 at 02:08 pm
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buy buy chanel bags for gift
Jay / March 4, 2012 at 05:21 pm
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Poor poor service. Was there today with my sis and her husband , my wife and our kids. We stood there and waited for the bearded "server" to notice us or ask us if we needed assistance. Nothing. No eye contact or acknowledgement of us. So we just went ahead and put some tables together and I could tell he wasn't happy about the commotion we were making, in fact it seemed like he just wanted us to go away. Screw him and his tip. I will give credit that the food was good, I had the brisket sandwich but I will not return there because the staff do not understand what being in the "service" industry means. It means don't be a douche and do your job.
Lana / March 18, 2012 at 09:18 pm
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Locomotive offers up the best Americano I have ever had. Ever. Smooth, gorgeous, heaven in a cup. I haven't tried the food, as they don't have many (any?) gluten-free options on board, but their coffee... ohhhhh their coffee.
Hey / March 26, 2012 at 08:59 pm
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Why are the addresses of these places NOT listed or provided with a link to their website ?
fs / April 1, 2012 at 08:51 pm
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To Jay: Why not just focus on how good the food was? So what you had to put tables together yourself? Cry me a river! It is a cafe, not The Canoe with full table service. I went there today and enjoyed a delicious sandwich and coffee served with a smile. The first time I was there I went with my entire family and six of us put tables together ourselves and enjoyed the friendly service quite a bit. Too much negativity, Jay. Focus on the positive! Locomotive is a great place to eat, drink and relax. It's welcoming place and everything is so darn fresh.
Markus / April 16, 2012 at 02:52 pm
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Tried it today, fantastic coffee and amazing breakfast sandwich. VERY cool place.
Steve / July 28, 2012 at 07:46 pm
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Had coffee and cake there one afternoon while on vacation in May. Was sooo good we went back again. Love the locomotive theme and the staff were friendly. Back home in Australia now, but will return for more Locomotive coffee :)
sumit / August 13, 2012 at 10:11 am
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great coffee, greate cafe. You should definitely go try it. Biscotti was awesome.
Lubin / August 13, 2012 at 05:46 pm
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The Brisket sandwich is incredible, highly recommended. Never had better sandwich bread in my life.
fidd / November 10, 2012 at 06:31 pm
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I'm here way too much. Expresso/Americano consistently good, and the sandwiches are decent too. Selfishly, I lament at how popular it's become - some days/times I avoid going because it's too busy. Worse still, I can't go back to drinking Creama anymore.
Leanne / November 14, 2012 at 06:04 pm
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I'm addicted to their Turkey Club and the espresso is fantastic! The place is very busy for a reason :)
Robert / December 9, 2012 at 02:17 pm
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Locamotive is awesome. Good coffee, good food, and friendly service. Simple and modest compliment to the neighborhood.
Abendkleider / April 19, 2013 at 11:54 pm
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