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Best of Toronto

The Best Panini in Toronto

Posted by Todd H / March 11, 2010

Panini TorontoThe best panini in Toronto are as different from one another as they are tasty, running the gamut from compact, grilled little packets of flavour to enormous, "there's no way I can eat that in one sitting" sandwiches that impress the eye as well as the tastebuds.

But before I get to the lowdown on the top 12: a language lesson.

A while back I was informed by several large, friendly and burly Italian men, that I and a large part of the North American populace have been butchering Italian for years and for that, I apologize. It seems that I have been unabashedly in love with the panino (correct Italian term for a sandwich) and at times, even being so gluttonous as to eat panini (correct, plural Italian term) in one sitting - all the while thinking that I was loving a panini and eating paninis.

So, thanks to all of the following for not only setting my language ineptitude straight, but by being universally fresh, overwhelmingly local and completely committed to this simple wonder.

Here are the 12 best panini in Toronto.

See also: The Best Sandwiches in Toronto

Fusaro's Kitchen

Fusaro's Kitchen

After being around for 11 years and with food as clean, fresh and tasty as this, it’s no wonder owner Pat Belsito has a ton of regulars and is opening a second location at Richmond and Sherbourne. Offering 12 different versions, my panino is perfectly grilled, full of flavour, has just the right amount of sauce and is never greasy. Awesome. More »

Lit Espresso Bar

Lit Espresso Bar

Absolutely packed at 3pm, it's quite clear that Lit is in demand. Cue the second location now open at College and Ossington. Prosciutto and bread from Messina bakery and veggies from next door keep it all local, and pressed as tightly as a grilled panino can be, the flavours burst in the mouth. Happy times. More »

Vinny's Panini

Vinny's Panini

This is the type of no fuss, no muss, and unquestioningly authentic place die-hard panino fans pray for. Opened 6 years ago because Vinny Pennella knew his mom made better panini than anyone else, his concern is all about freshness, quality and consistency. Nothing is pre-cooked and while it means a few minutes wait, the result is more than worth it. Amen. More »

Rapido

Rapido

Marco Santaguida’s catering customers demanded a place to get a great sandwich. Voila! Rapido opens in April of ‘09. Along with adorning the walls with his vintage Volkswagen ad collection, he keeps the panini personal using in-house made no preservative, no sulphite and low sodium turkey, roast and corned beef. A little slice of Europe doesn’t get any closer. More »

Tommaso's Trattoria

Tommaso's Trattoria

When asked “What makes a good Panini?” owner Tammaso Conti was brief, “Good sauce, good bread, good meat” and really, considering the enormous chicken foccacia with rapini, grilled eggplant, zucchini and artichoke and a veal sandwich with red sauce to die for that followed, who am I to argue? Eat here. Just do it. More »

Mangiacake

Mangiacake

Sitting quietly on McCaul just north of Dundas, this neighbourhood resto keeps it fresh, homemade and local. Owner Raj makes sure the ingredients are Ontario grown if at all possible and the panini are built on a Silverstein’s bread that is proprietary. The namesake Mangiacake panino with smoked turkey breast, provolone and pipotto sauce on calabrese doesn’t disappoint. More »

The Roastery

The Roastery

An enormous menu, including burritos, greets you at this very cosy neighbourhood cafe but it’s the panini we’re here for. From Thai Chicken to Wasabi Tuna, each is grilled to a scrumptious crispiness that gives way to a wonderfully warm and soft interior that simply begs you to sit by the fire, relax and enjoy. More »

Cafe Uno

Cafe Uno

In keeping with the Distillery vibe - the exposed brick, rough hewn wood communal tables and chandeliers quickly establish that this is no ordinary cafe. While the panino menu is surprisingly difficult to locate, it’s worth the search as a firmly pressed and perfectly scorched bread opens up to local flavours that complement but never overpower. More »

Nook

Nook

Down a few steps and located in a historical building in the King West stretch just west of Spadina, this family run joint is as welcoming as they come and the panini ooze yumminess. Made as you order in a tiny open kitchen, their chicken pesto with whole basil leaves is fragrant, fresh, fast, inexpensive (6$), and delicious. More »

Caffe Doria

Caffe Doria

Open for 8 years in Rosedale and consistently busy, Rosa Agostino’s caffe definitely knows what it’s doing. Using bread from Molisana Bakery, an incredible olive tapenade, fresh mozzarella and grilled veggies, this panino is aces. Combined with a soothing Mediterranean vibe and travel excursions to Italy on offer at the counter, it’s the total package. More »

Mela Cafe

Mela Cafe

This all vegetarian and partially vegan joint on Yorkville changes the panini daily depending on what owners Roberto and Katerina have found at the market that day. Varying from brie, apple and basil in the summer to the more wintery staple of eggplant parm, it’s almost always sold out by 2pm so stop reading and get moving! More »

Discussion

35 Comments

Erica / March 11, 2010 at 10:32 am
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For fresh, grilled panini you should also check out Fresh Start Coffee Co at 655 Bay St (corner of Bay & Elm St)
wfnifnwifn / March 11, 2010 at 10:52 am
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no sandwich box?
ciabatta / March 11, 2010 at 11:55 am
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"no sandwich box?" - are you kidding around?

Anyway... no Terroni?I always liked theirs.
Dave Z / March 11, 2010 at 11:56 am
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I'm glad Negroni is number one on the list here. That IS a tasty sandwich.
sammie / March 11, 2010 at 01:03 pm
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Negroni. Hands down the best in town. Stellar menu and ridiculously cheap. Been going since they opened.
Gloria / March 11, 2010 at 01:27 pm
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Maybe I'm just cheap (or used to panini being genuinely cheap and plentiful in Italy), but $12 for a sandwich isn't "ridiculously cheap" to me. Affordable, reasonable, but ridiculously?
Horace / March 11, 2010 at 01:42 pm
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12 for a sandwich, with house made pestos and mayos, bread from montreal, and made to order coming standard with an arugula and fennel salad with some white bean pesto salad, yes, that is ridiculously....
i'm there every week....
Gloria replying to a comment from Horace / March 11, 2010 at 03:44 pm
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Oh, how the other half lives ;)
Richard S / March 11, 2010 at 03:57 pm
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I gotta say....Vinny's Panini looks like a smaller (less meat and sauce) version of a California Sandwich rather than a Panini. Not to say that's bad because I haven't tried Vinny's, just wasn't expecting something like that on the list.
Roger replying to a comment from Erica / March 11, 2010 at 04:22 pm
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I second Fresh Start as makers of fine panini. :)
Rachel / March 11, 2010 at 08:02 pm
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I'm so happy to see some love for Mela! I've never met anyone who has ever heard of it but it's one of the greatest secrets of Yorkville.

Mangiacakes offers some discounts to UofT students, a rarity in this city. Big ups to Mangiacakes for that.
Martin / March 12, 2010 at 08:30 am
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I noticed Vinny's isn't on the map.

787 Dupont St, Toronto, ON‎ - (416) 531-9454

Google map:http://bit.ly/csHqd7


Eric Bernhard / March 12, 2010 at 05:36 pm
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Hotel Gelato has amazing panini's, they are only available at lunch time but if you work near yonge and eg its worth the trip.

www.hotelgelato.com
Sam / March 16, 2010 at 11:34 am
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Mangiacake has a $16 deal on TeamBuy.ca for anyone interested in trying it out! $16 for $30 worth of food.
Sara / March 16, 2010 at 01:04 pm
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Rapido has great panini, & I'm glad to see it on the list.
You can get a "boxed lunch" ( choice of salad & panino ) for $9 tx. inc!!! what a tasty deal, but i always try to get there early, they have very busy lunches & sell out if your not fast enough!
Scott / March 16, 2010 at 04:10 pm
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MangiaCake makes me wet in the mammam
Christine / March 17, 2010 at 06:56 pm
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Mangiacake has a great student deal on right now, a choice of three different panini from their menu and a pop for $6! SO GOOD
Downtown Jersey Brown / March 18, 2010 at 03:07 pm
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Wha wha whaaaaaat???? No San Francesco Foods? Honestly... Check it out on Clinton just south of College. Ludicrously good sammies. Prices alone will make you eat more than sangwiccio.
Liz Lemon / March 19, 2010 at 10:15 am
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Go to Boccone around Yonge and St. Clair and order the italian on focaccia bread. You will NOT be disappointed!
Horace replying to a comment from Richard S / March 19, 2010 at 03:48 pm
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Read the article before commenting. Panini is PLURAL. FOR SANDWICH. what you mean to say is that it dosen't look like a grilled panino. which it isn't. it's a non-grilled panino.
Sadie / March 22, 2010 at 09:41 pm
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Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe in Little Italy has incredible paninis. Made fresh to order, the selection makes for a difficult choice. Be sure to try the vanilla ice cream as well; it's to DIE for. Believe me when I say this, as I do not have the slightest sweet tooth.

Enjoy :)
Lynne / March 22, 2010 at 11:08 pm
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check out McEwans at the shops at don mills! Meatloaf panini... amazing!
Mike / March 23, 2010 at 10:35 pm
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Salad & Sushi on Dundas just East of University. It serves amazing panini.
Michael / March 25, 2010 at 01:06 pm
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Sandwich Box is great, although technically only some of the breads they have available are panini.
Sandy Caetano / April 21, 2010 at 06:02 pm
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I must say I'm surprised you missed California's Sandwiches which is on Claremont. They make the best veal paninis! Lots of meat and sauce, it's absolutely delicious! Faema Cafe on Dupont and Christie also makes some good paninis as does Eden Trattoria. Great article! Absolutely loved it!
Sandy Caetano / April 21, 2010 at 06:02 pm
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I must say I'm surprised you missed California's Sandwiches which is on Claremont. They make the best veal paninis! Lots of meat and sauce, it's absolutely delicious! Faema Cafe on Dupont and Christie also makes some good paninis as does Eden Trattoria. Great article! Absolutely loved it!
Alexandra / August 9, 2010 at 04:52 pm
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Kiss the Cook Catering makes awesome Panini's! They individually wrap them so they are catered to our office warm. You can taste that the Foccacia is fresh baked and the spices are amazing.

I love the Grilled Chicken with Smoked gouda! My friend is addicted to their Veal Parmesan.

www.kissthecookcatering.com - go to the Sandwich menu

Anth / December 17, 2010 at 06:02 pm
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you should really try out PANINI Italian Sandwiches in Woodbridge. It's been around forever and was one of the first to market!
trueblue / March 12, 2011 at 09:44 pm
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I just found this panini place while I was up in Bloor West Village - Junction area. Its called Outhouse and its at Jane and Annette. The menu is vegetarian and the panini rocked! couldnt leave with out trying out a date square that had just come out of the oven.loveeeeddddd it.
Drangle / January 25, 2012 at 11:19 pm
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I'd like to throw in a vote for the Annex Hodgepodge on Dupont, just east of Spadina. Fantastic paninis named after streets in the area - the Madison is fantastic but the Kendal is also worth checking out.
sandwichmaven / February 10, 2012 at 04:40 pm
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I second your vote on the annex hodgepodge. The panini's there are wicked but extremely addictive.
Bluedog / April 11, 2012 at 01:44 pm
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Anyone tried the panini's at Te Aro or their other place Crafted - fan freaking tastic. The manager at crafted said they come from The Village Catering Co., and they do other indie places too. So good....
Hazel / April 11, 2012 at 01:46 pm
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Doesn't the village catering co. do Cafe Furbo in the destillery? Those are so delicious! I work near by, and am now sadly addicted. The owner's super nice too.
COSPLAY / September 26, 2012 at 11:30 pm
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Sandwich Box is great, although technically only some of the breads they have available are panini.
george / February 23, 2014 at 03:56 pm
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check out fourno The newest panini shop in Toronto. 130 king st w. the exchange tower food court. 4169018181 order online to taste it yourself. www.fourno.ca

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