The Best Panini in Toronto
The 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
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »