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Cafes

Rapido

Posted by Emily Thomas / Posted on August 8, 2009

RapidoRapido, according to rumours I'd heard, has homemade olives.

The newish café at Bathurst and Dupont is so close to my house that I would have given it a try even without the olive rumour, but those Mediterranean treats offered extra incentive to get over there for a coffee and a bit of lunch. A bit of lunch! It's almost funny now to remember those modest intentions, because we ended up stuffing ourselves with pizza and sandwiches from Rapido's lunch offerings two days in a row. This is the kind of behaviour that gets one addicted in a hurry.
RapidoMarco and Carlos Santaguida have been in the food business for almost twelve years with their catering company, Santaguida Fine Foods. It's located just down the street from Rapido, which opened in April. These two are a delightful pair and they sure do love food. Most of their ingredients are local and their herbs are grown on site. Pots of basil and cilantro line the window seat where Carlos is sitting when Alyssa and I arrive. He is drinking an espresso and chatting with a customer. Natural light pours into the cafe's moody dark interior of exposed brick and dark hardwood. The prep area is open concept and directly under an old, rusty skylight through which the sun shines directly onto Marco and Carlos' mother, Vittoria, who is preparing pizza dough. It's quite the divine sight.

Plus, the family set-up makes me feel like I'm at a relative's (really gorgeous) house for lunch. The noon time rush has just ended, so the pickings are slightly less than usual, but beautiful nonetheless. An assortment of colourful salads line the top shelf of the fridge and bowls of fruit crowd the cash register along with brightly frosted cupcakes. Freshly baked pizza is nearly sold out and fine looking panini are displayed on two or three varieties of bread like baguette, focacia and whole wheat.

RapidoThe "box" special is one sandwich and one of those brightly coloured salads for an all around good price (two specials came to $16). Between the two of us we have a tuna sandwich, a grilled vegetable sandwich, couscous salad and Asian noodle salad. Plus, I get a diet coke (truly, a strange habit that I'm developing) and Alyssa has homemade lemonade that comes out of a huge glass jar with lemons in it ($1.55).

There are not too many seating options but we manage to score a spot by the window, which looks directly out onto Bathurst. Mere feet from us, people are getting on and off the bus and glancing in our direction at the sandwiches. I imagine they're jealous of us because a) we're sitting in a café eating and drinking and they're not and b) our sandwiches look really good.

RapidoThey taste good too! Seriously, these are the kind of sandwiches that you want to be vocal about. The bread is so fresh and soft, makes you want to say, "This is so good" with every bite. The grilled vegetable sandwich has layers of red pepper, eggplant and zucchini with a "special" mayo that gives it bite. I must admit, I was initially quite worried about the lack of cheese on there but that mayo really does the trick.

The Asian noodle salad is fresh and crunchy, carbo spicy. The homemade lemonade is subtle, barely sweet and fully refreshing. It is at this point that Alyssa realizes her camera battery is busted. We have shots of the food but none of the restaurant. "Let's just come back in the morning," she says, unfazed. What a fantastic excuse. I finish the rest of my delicious sandwich with the comforting thought of another one tomorrow. On the way out I grab a homemade iced tea, steeped for three days and lightly sweetened. It also comes out of a jar.

RapidoAlyssa's busted battery turns out to be the best thing that could have happened to us. Upon our return the next day, we're greeted like regulars. Now I really feel like I'm at a relative's house for lunch. There are several new items in the fridge including a panino grande: a gigantic sandwich of sausage, artichoke and provolone cheese. We take one piece of the grande and a slice of artichoke and ricotta pizza ($3.50) and gorge ourselves for the second time in twenty-four hours. The bread is (again) beyond outstanding. Focaccia is always tasty but often I find it tough. This focaccia is heaven: gentle and crispy and olive oily. Plus, that special mayo makes another welcome appearance. The pizza is crispy and thin with melted hunks of ricotta.

RapidoWhile Alyssa snaps shot of the interior, Carlos tells me about his plans for a hot table in September, and frozen take away lasagnas. He also tells me something very special about the meat, something I wish I knew earlier: the roast beef, roasted turkey and corned beef are all made in house. "Look at the roast beef," he says to me, pointing out a meaty sandwich with caramelized red onions. "It's done just beyond rare." The roast beef has a pinkish hue. How could I have possibly avoided it two days? Between the meat and frozen lasagnas I've found a few reasons to return a few more times, make a habit of this place with the outstanding panini.

And for the record, those olive rumours are true. RapidoRapidoRapidoRapidoRapidoRapidoRapido
Photos by Alyssa Bistonath.

Discussion

12 Comments

Nav / August 8, 2009 at 11:42 am
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Just wanted to say that is some lovely photography.

Oh also, I agree that the food here is great. It's just a shame that the seating is so limited.
laurel / August 8, 2009 at 08:38 pm
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great review and pictures!
but good different / August 22, 2009 at 11:35 am
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Agreed lovely photography! Agreed that seating is limited.

Have to add that the paninis there are out of this world. The deli meat is so fresh and delicious!
janelle / October 4, 2009 at 07:06 pm
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beautiful place, awesome food, great coffee.
Sara / October 17, 2009 at 08:22 pm
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This place is awesome, you should check out the 6 foot panino they have everyday its beautiful! Also, they just added tables and chairs so it looks like the seating issue has been resolved....love it!
Elf / October 27, 2009 at 06:05 pm
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Went for the first time today: Food was excellent, and the service was wonderful, like being in someone's home. We had yummy sandwiches, very crispy and buttery and a fluffy and chocolaty vegan cupcake. The pizza today, which I didn't try but was intrigued by, was tomato and avocado.
FOODIE / November 4, 2009 at 04:13 pm
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aweswome place! lots of things to look at. food is as good as mario battali`s in new york! we`ll be back.
FOODIE / November 4, 2009 at 04:14 pm
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aweswome place! lots of things to look at. food is as good as mario battali`s in new york! we`ll be back.
Quinn DuPont / February 2, 2010 at 06:32 pm
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Great food, crazy hours. Last I checked they are closed all weekend, open mid-morning and close at 4pm. Who exactly is hanging around at these hours? (other than the occasional student, who would rather late night hours instead)
tara / February 24, 2010 at 09:04 am
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I believe their hours are Monday to Friday 8am till 4pm, which explains that its a sole lunch spot. I asked the owner one day why he was open these hours, and he told me that they own a catering business just down the street, and as soon as they close up shop they are off working catering gigs, also, i live in the area and there is not much going on after 4pm anyways. I respect them, for not begging for business by opening all hours of the day. the panini is worth making a trip before 4pm.
marco / March 2, 2010 at 02:56 pm
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hi tara - thank you for clarifying our hours of operation! we have a great lunch crowd which is what our original concept is geared towards. we get a cappuccino and espresso crowd early in the morning around 8:15am and a bustling lunch rush starting around 11:30am. by the time 4:00pm rolls around we continue into catering mode and can be spotted around the city in our santaguida fine foods trucks catering to the evening crowds at conferences and dinner parties. a big thank you to our loyal fans as we(raoido) approach a very successful 1 year birthday this april.

buon appetito!

marco santaguida
president
santaguida fine foods inc.
www.santaguidafinefoods.com
marco / March 2, 2010 at 03:01 pm
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hi tara - thank you for clarifying our hours of operation! we have a great lunch crowd which is what our original concept is geared towards. we get a cappuccino and espresso crowd early in the morning around 8:15am and a bustling lunch rush starting around 11:30am. by the time 4:00pm rolls around we continue into catering mode and can be spotted around the city in our santaguida fine foods trucks catering to the evening crowds at conferences and dinner parties. a big thank you to our loyal fans as we (rapido) approach a very successful 1 year birthday this april.

buon appetito!

marco santaguida
president
santaguida fine foods inc.
www.santaguidafinefoods.com


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