The top 30 Italian restaurants in Toronto by neighbourhood
Italian restaurants in Toronto are as diverse as the neighbourhoods they inhabit offering family-friendly trattorias, rustic osterias, casual pizzerias, and pretty much every other kind of restaurant you could ask for under the Tuscan sun.
Here are my picks for the top Italian restaurants in Toronto by neighbourhood.
BLOOR WEST VILLAGE
As its name suggests, noodles are the strength on the menu at Queen's Pasta Cafe. Highlights include butternut squash agnolotti, and the deceptively simple penne a la vodka with green peas and bacon.
Queen Margherita Pizza is well versed in the traditional Neapolitan style of pizza and is a great destination when craving carb-laden classics. The margherita is among the house specialties, though adventurous eaters should try distinctive pizzas like the Roberto Scallopini with kale, parm, sunflower seeds and garlic aioli.
Informal family style dining is what sets 7 Numbers apart from the pack. The menu is always changing, but count on selections of antipasti, primi, and secondi that have recently included light dishes like grilled sardines, and burrata with tomatoes, plus hearty pastas and mains like polpette or osso buco.
Chef Craig Harding at Campagnolo turns out good, honest food on well composed plates. The menu features seasonally driven fare, along with staples like fresh burrata with roasted grapes, and a delicious spaghetti all'amatriciana.
Pappardelle with rabbit, honey mushrooms and kale is just one of the many enticing selections on the menu at F'Amelia. The casual trattoria is perfect for gathering with family and friends whether satisfying that pasta craving or sharing salumi, antipasti and wine.
CASTLEFIELD DEIGN DISTRICT
Speducci Mercatto is primarily a butcher counter with the added bonus of a cafe. Sample house-aged selections on the salumi board, dine on prepared foods like osso bucco and lasagna or have the lunch counter construct the perfect panini with the house porchetta.
Citta is the latest venture from restaurant impresarios Hanif Harji and Charles Khabouth. The menu from ex-Grove chef Ben Heaton draws on Southern Italy for inspiration offering starters like fried artichokes, pizzas topped with guanciale, pecorino and egg, and pastas stuffed with bufala ricotta.
Pizza e Pazzi is so popular it boasts two locations on St. Clair West. While pizzas are the main draw, the calzone fritto stuffed with ricotta, spicy salami and mozzarella di buffala should not be overlooked.
Mr. Ciao isn't your average Italian restaurant. The cozy sister restaurant to BBQ-centric Triple A Bar specializes in fried pizzas and has been known to use the drippings from slow-smoked meats in its pasta dishes.
Etobicoke is densely populated with great Italian food. On one stretch of the Queensway alone you'll find Grappa, Posticino and the casual but fun, Mamma Martino's. Cellar Door on Lake Shore is new to the fold but continues to impress with pasta dishes like the bucatini Amatriciana and a lineup of rustic pizzas.
Osteria Cieri e Tria serves up renowned Terroni dishes with a Southern Italian twist. Focused on Pugliese and Sicilian cuisines, the menu offers smoked sword fish carpaccio, arancini filled with peas and veal ragu, and house-made agnolotti filled with braised beef in a butter sage and parmigiano sauce.
Warm Italian hospitality is what you can expect at Nodo from the moment you're seated and served complimentary lupini beans. Highlights on the menu of fresh pastas include wild boar ragu over gnocchi, and a peppery cacio pepe. The wine list is commendably affordable too.
Bar Vespa is a sleek setting to nibble on show stopping spreads of salumi and formaggio. Alternately you can enjoy hand crafted pizzas topped with original combinations of ingredients like say, Brussel sprouts and pancetta.
In a neighbourhood flush with Italian eateries, my choice is the oft overlooked and off the beaten path, Black Skirt. The Southern Italian restaurant serves rustic fare like white Sicilian anchovies with crostini and pasta dishes tossed with crushed pistachios.
Buca, helmed by chef Rob Gentile has earned a solid reputation for refined takes on rustic dishes. While the offerings change seasonally, recent features have included hand-cut pork blood pasta with n'duja, rapini and smoked burrata as well as, a pizza dressed with lamb pancetta, potatoes and taleggio cheese.
Enjoy traditional wood-fired Neapolitan pies made to the exacting standards of the VPN at Pizzeria Libretto. Aside from classics like the Margherita, look forward to thin crust pizzas topped with delicacies like duck confit and bosc pears or white anchovies with roasted garlic and chilies.
Pizzeria Defina isn't the only Italian restaurant on Roncy, but it does offer one of the most varied menus. The focus is on pizza but it's worthwhile to try out other wood-fired favourites like stuffed portobello mushrooms and fennel flavoured chicken wings.
Fusaro's Italian Kitchen is home to generously portioned pastas, panini and pizzas. Find the place bustling at lunch hour as locals flock to eat veal parm sandwiches and mozzarella-filled arancini doused in sugo.
Fratelli Village Pizzeria does more than just pizzas. The tempting selection of pizzas includes 20 varieties, but there's also risotto offered three ways (mushroom, seafood, or with ground beef and peas), as well as, hearty pasta dishes and meaty entrees.
ST. CLAIR WEST
The menu at Ferro Bar Cafe is expansive listing an impressive array of pastas, risotto, pizzas and secondi. House favorites include the grilled calamari with crispy polenta and a luxe linguine in white wine sauce with lobster, scallops and snow peas.
WEST QUEEN WEST
Terroni is the perennial favourite on this fertile stretch of Queen West. The kitchen represents the regional cuisines of Italy with great reverence and uncompromising quality. Just don't ask for cheese on your spaghetti in canna a mare.
Oca Nera is an unassuming hidden gem on Islington south of Langstaff Road. While the menu changes seasonally, the wild boar bolognese gnocchi is a staple, as are the fresh oysters brought in from Rodney's.
YONGE & EGLINTON
Doppio Zero, SIP, Zucca, Grano, and Lil' Baci are all strong contenders in this neck of the woods, but I've always favoured Grazie. I've never had a bad meal here, and I can't be the only one - Grazie has been around forever (er, 1990), so it must be doing something right.
Sotto Sotto has recently reopened just two doors down from where three-alarm blaze destroyed its former home. Yorkville residents and A-list celebrities alike can rejoice, once again Mama's bolognese is back on the menu.
Lead photo from Bar Vespa.
What did I miss? Disagree with my selections in the comments.
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