Commisso Brothers & Racco Italian Bakery is an invaluable Toronto resource for satiating those midnight veal cravings. Though I haven't personally developed a pang for hot meat at 3 a.m., this shop's loyal followers surely wouldn't look anywhere else.
Just off of Castlefield Avenue, west of Caledonia Road, Commisso Brothers & Racco Italian Bakery is a well-established bakery and grocery store, with a hot table of Italian favourites and fresh gelato in the summertime. It sits on an incredibly expansive lot, so there's rarely a fight for space or parking.
When you walk in, Commisso Bros. looks like a run-of-the-mill convenience store. And from what I've heard, its menu and its aesthetic haven't changed in decades. There's the chocolate bars, bags of chips, packs of Dentyne and the sort by the front, but you have to venture in further to find the Italian goods and homemade treats.
My first stop, with the temperature on my mind, was to explore the frozen goods in search of some sort of heat relief. Commisso Bros. has tubs of Sicilian ice cream, various Tartufo options, and sorbet-filled fruits sold in freezer boxes. Of course, I abandoned the lot when I spotted Commisso's own homemade gelato under the counter by its pastries. This gelato doesn't boast intricate design or adornment in display, nor is it of complicated flavours like you might find in some of the newer gelato shops. No, here there's chocolate, tiramisu, lemon, and other basic flavours.
I order a scoop of lemon ($2.75), which is handed to me in a shallow clear container--the type you might find at an olive bar (which, coincidentally, Commisso Bros. has too). I have high hopes for the gelato but it disappoints ever so slightly, being overly sweet and melting way too fast. When someone on the street later asks me why I'm eating milk with a spoon, I decide it's time to give it up.
But the bread at Commisso Bros. makes up for the gelato shortcomings. It's all self-serve in the back end of the bakery, where racks offer traditional loaves ($2.75), cornmeal buns ($0.55), pizza bread ($5.00), and, oddly, loaves of Wonder Bread. The bakery also produces Commisso's famous cannoli ($1.25), which are displayed in the pastry counter along with other cakes and desserts.
Along with its collection of imported groceries from Italy, one of Commisso's big draws is its hot table, which, from the look of the line, seems to appeal to everyone. The construction worker in front of me orders the aforementioned veal ($6.50), while the business-chic lady behind me seems to be eyeing the lasagna ($4.75). I opt for a small order of meat tortellini ($4.50), which smells so irresistible that I can't help digging in before I've left the shop. The sauce definitely makes it--a fresh tomato made with a quality oil--and my gelato woes are all but forgotten as I devour the last of the tortellini. Certainly worth a 3 a.m. drop-in.
Photos by Jesse Milns