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Grocery Stores

Alimento Fine Food Emporium

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on November 5, 2011

Alimento TorontoAlimento is really three businesses in one; it's a "fine food emporium" (or grocery store, to the layman among us), a bakery (which, technically, operates under the name Forno Cultura), and a full-service restaurant and cafe (BAR Mozza), offering authentic Italian cuisine.

Actually, "authentic Italian" is the mantra carried throughout the recently opened King West space, which has been teasing the area with its renovations for more than a year now. Brothers Marco, Joe, Albert Jr., and Anthony Contardi are the men behind the project, and they also happen to be the owners of the six Grande Cheese shops in and near the GTA.

Alimento Toronto"This shop," says Andrea Mastrandrea, a Contardi family lifelong friend and Forno Cultura owner, "this was supposed to be the seventh. But it was Marco--he thought we should do something more.

Alimento TorontoAlimento does indeed offer a counter of fresh cheeses, 90% of which, Andrea says, are imported from Italy. The rest is made in-house. But to go along with your Cacio di Fossa ($40.99/lb), Bra Duro ($35.99/lb), or plain old Ricotta ($8.99/lb), is a marketplace of specialty deli meats, premium olive oils, homemade pastas, sauces, and sides, fresh picks from the olive bar, candies and chocolates from Italy, gifts, and even a flower station with a table for wrapping. And that's all just in the market end.

Alimento TorontoThere's still a bakery and restaurant, which Andrea takes me to explore, starting with the bakery, which, indeed, is his domain. "French baking is something that's definitely already represented in this city," he says. "But Italian, not so much."

Alimento Toronto"These are the recipes I got from my father and grandfather," he continues, as we scan the baskets of amaretti ($15.00/lb), hazelnut biscotti ($11.00/lb), and about a dozen other varieties. "Here, try this," Andrea says, handing me a cookie from the amaretti bianchi display. "You don't have to eat the whole thing, but just taste--it's all natural, authentic, just like they do in Italy." Of course, I eat the whole thing. It's crunchy, nutty, and sweet--amazing.

Alimento TorontoThe bakery (on the lower level) also prepares fresh brioche loaves ($5), focaccia ($6), and other breads daily. But obviously, that's not all for the kitchen. Alimento is essentially divided down the middle, where the west end serves as restaurant and cafe. Full sit-down service is available during lunch and dinner, where a menu of traditional Italian dishes borrows ingredients straight from the adjacent market.

Alimento TorontoThere are pastas such as the Fettucine Nero with squid ink, cuttlefish, nduja, garlic, and oregano ($15), pizzas including the Parmigianna made with tomato, fior di latte, smoked ricotta, roasted eggplant, and basil ($13), and a 14 oz. bone-in rib eye ($27) and other Secondi. Coffees and pastries are available for take-out in the morning, as well as pizza, salads, and other quick grab-and-go items during lunch.

Alimento TorontoThe idea, Andrea explains, is to have the market complement the restaurant, and vice versa. "If we're talking about the heart of the Italian community," he says, "really, that's more in Woodbridge. The idea here, though, is to bring that right downtown; meaning the quality, the flavour, the style. Just like they do it in Italy."

Alimento TorontoAlimento TorontoPhotos by Jesse Milns

Discussion

27 Comments

Lazar / November 5, 2011 at 05:40 pm
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Was this in the location previously occupied by Danier? It has been some time since I was down there, now this gives me an excuse
smash / November 5, 2011 at 10:16 pm
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This neighborhood is going to be flooded with Italian food in a matter of months when Buca opens their "cafe", Gusto opens on Portland and now this guy?
We've been waiting almost two years and I can't say I'm very excited by the offerings. It's like Fresh & Wild met Pusateri's then picked a theme and ran with it.
Good Luck on King West gang. I think you might need it.
mr. hood / November 6, 2011 at 04:47 am
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you can get some of those same cured meats a block away for half the price. cheese too.. i understand quality is at play here, but mark up seems a bit high, and maybe they figure the neighbourhood wont care about that..

not slagging, but $35/lb for proscuitto, = $12.86/100 grams - ish?

foodie32 / November 6, 2011 at 10:19 am
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I have to say that Alimento is fine prices are great quality great and service wonderful. It brings me back home to italy as I would walk throuh the mercato. Keep up the good job. I wiLl be back soon. Thanks again for all. The samples there great
pastry-o-holic / November 6, 2011 at 04:03 pm
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The pastries here are, without question, the BEST in GTA. The pastry chef's family owns a bakery in Woodbridge and I have been buying their pasties, bread, cakes for years and they never disappoint. You haven't tasted authentic italian pastries until you try one of Mastrandrea's. His biscotti and cannoli will have you drooling for more!!!
Ms. Hood / November 6, 2011 at 04:56 pm
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As someone who lives in the neighbourhood, it's safe to say that property value in the area isn't cheap so it's expected that a high end store food store would open-up shop in KING WEST. Businesses on the strip aren't exactly for the thrift shopper - Calphalon, EQ3, Spin, LeeValley Tools, Totum, Freed condos and Susur Lee &Marc Thuet sound familiar? The list goes on. Seems to me that this is the perfect spot to cater to a clientele who may want $34.99/lb pingue proscuitto. I may not necessary buy it, but i'm sure there will be people who will.
JR replying to a comment from Ms. Hood / November 6, 2011 at 09:58 pm
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For someone trying to show off how affluent and in-the-know you are, your grammar is terrible!
Ms. Hood replying to a comment from JR / November 7, 2011 at 08:41 am
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I'm not trying to show off how "affluent and in-the-know" I am, because I'm not. Nor did I say that I'm a grammarian. I said myself that I wouldn't buy the proscuitto. If you look beyond my horrible grammar, then you'd see that I'm merely saying that it would make more sense opening up a fine foods store like Alimento in King West then, say, in Kensington no?

Thanks for the grammar technique, JR!
JR replying to a comment from Ms. Hood / November 7, 2011 at 09:59 am
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My apologies then.

.....but by grammar "technique", did you mean lesson?
Ms. Hood replying to a comment from JR / November 7, 2011 at 10:36 am
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hahah indeed I did!! I don't know how I got through Canadian immigration!! Me English so worst! Thank heavens for continuing education.
Chino / November 9, 2011 at 10:08 am
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Ms. Hood makes an obvious (or perhaps not so obvious) claim that it's just good business sense to open up a premium store like this in a premium area. Like with all things where quality can vary, you get what you pay for.

JR is simply an ignoranous (Ali G reference).

mr. hood / November 9, 2011 at 04:05 pm
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just because you're on king st west, doesn't mean you have to overcharge for a quality product. I guess the endgame is profit and margins, and not to mention the rent is probably high. They need to make back all the rent they've spent since taking on the project over a year ago. Just felt a bit insulted with some of the prices they're charging for items. I know food production and costs have gone up 25-30% over the past 5 years, but perhaps enticing people to try your product and maybe offer some samplings would be a great way to inform customers about their products.

MrsPotato replying to a comment from pastry-o-holic / November 9, 2011 at 07:32 pm
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Not sure what Pastry-o-holic is referring to, but they only have is a shit load of those dry looking biscotti's at Alimento, and $8+ stuff in a jar. Nothing else.

They currently only have 2 types of bread avail. One weighs a good 3lbs, and it's reeeally dense.
The selection is terrible of baked stuffs.


George / November 17, 2011 at 10:20 am
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I stopped by this place last week to have dinner with my partner, the food is very good and the service is amazing. However I cannot say that the sampling of pastry that we had were great, definitely I would not pay a penny for it.
Maxer / December 6, 2011 at 10:58 pm
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I stopped by this place about a month ago...the guy at the cheese counter was rude and inhospitable! I tried a sample of the cheese that they had made available for customers, and Cheese Dude asked me if I wanted to buy any. I responded in the negative but thanked him for the sample, and then he gave me the stink eye and walked away. Not cool.

I also had one of their lattes...nothing to write home about. The other local coffee shops like Sense Appeal and Crema do it best. Overpriced consumables, bad attitude and a half-assed latte...I won't be returning to Alimento. It's too bad - I had been looking forward to its launch for over a year.
Queen / February 15, 2012 at 08:08 am
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I LOVE the pizza....only suggestion is for them to either pre-cut the pizza or make the dough a bit more gooey. It was a very labour-intensive activity for my steak knife to tear through the dough....too much work!

But let me say this: my $11 pizza was indeed tasty and filling and reasonably priced---unlike the rip-off CHEESEWERKS on Bathurst and Wellington. And I think we can all agree how we feel about THAT place!
stefan / March 10, 2012 at 05:05 pm
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This place is amazing, great value for what you get if you want to spend more you obviously can but if you want to spend less you can as well, they have a lot of in-house cheeses that are fantastic and not that expensive, their breads are fabulous and their olive oil is amazing and also very affordable at $9.50 for 750Ml of a refill of their own stuff. Prosciutto is not an inexpensive thing and they also have less expensive options, they cater to all tastes and price points...Its not No Frills but its also not trying to be.

I enjoyed what I purchased and very excited to go back.
Yetti51 replying to a comment from mr. hood / March 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm
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Mr. Hood, what place are you referring to that is a "block away" from Forno Cultura ? thanks
rationality replying to a comment from mr. hood / April 12, 2012 at 09:41 pm
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mr hood, elementary mathematics informs us that in fact the price for 100 grams of prosciutto costing $35 per pound is $7.70 (nb there are 454gr/lbs thus the computation is $35 x 100/454). thus the price is not $12.86. your comment was erroneous and misleading. nevertheless, this is one example elucidating that this establishment purveys and sells affordable decadence. i am delighted that alimento exists!
Admin / April 24, 2012 at 07:03 pm
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the new blog
Admin / April 24, 2012 at 07:03 pm
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the new blog
P replying to a comment from rationality / May 7, 2012 at 02:38 pm
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Shut it, square.
Update / January 15, 2013 at 10:48 am
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Alimento (500 King St W)
Inspected on: January 9
Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional Pass)
Number of infractions: 9 (Minor: 2, Significant: 6, Crucial: 1)
Crucial infractions include: Inadequate food temperature control
Tom / January 15, 2013 at 11:51 pm
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I love this place, great food and generous, kind staff. They are the real deal.
Sean / January 17, 2013 at 01:57 am
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Inspected on: January 9, 2013
Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional Pass)
Number of infractions: 9 (Minor: 2, Significant: 6, Crucial: 1)
Crucial infractions include: Inadequate food temperature control
snow / January 25, 2013 at 11:15 pm
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i like there pastry,it's good even more better then befor,the pastry befor was by other company call forno cultura but d'not like those pastry to sweet,and to many mix,i like to know they gone,
Mend / September 13, 2013 at 09:20 pm
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It closed down, new amazing place opened there called Cibo Wine Bar | A truly authentic Italian wine bar which serves amazing authentic rustic Italian food. Cibo is by the Liberty Entertainment Group same group as spice root and c lounge amongst many others. Check them out here:
www.libertygroup.com/feature2.html

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