Forno Cultura on Queen
Forno Cultura on Queen is the fifth outpost of the popular Toronto bakery serving Italian cookies, bread, and coffee.
Each Forno has its own function — the Union Station location specializes in biscotti, the original King West location is the main production house for bread — but this is easily the brand's most interesting standalone store.
Taking over an old truck rental shop (and brief home to a Sweet Olenka's pop-up shop), the bakery has transformed an old building with a moat-like parking lot into a sleek space full of arches, light, and more importantly, baked goods.
Toronto-based firm Ja Architects has kept up with Forno's signature minimalist look. Keeping the exterior industrial, they've brought some amazing accents inside, like vaulted windows with fading creases, and ash wood chairs from Finefolk Furniture.
The open kitchen lets you peer into the pastry production, watching the process from start to finish as you walk west along the bar.
You'll find all the usual Forno offerings here: shelves stocked with olive oil and jars of giardiniera bianca, 24 different types of cookies sold by weight ($6 per 100 grams), and loaves of bread.
But the staple here is the focaccia bread, which is made in cast iron-like pans at the King West location and brought over.
Currently the only location to use these fluffy Pugliese breads for their sandwiches, you'll find a seasonal version that rotates daily, and another: the signature barese con patate e pomodori.
The roasted eggplant and zucchini sandwich on focaccia ($10.50) is olive oil-drenched, arugula heaven, with fresh mozzarella inside.
The mortadella sandwich ($10.50) has pickled veggies and emmental cheese. You can get either sandwich fresh or grilled.
Also signature to this Forno is the granita ($5): an icy, Italian coffee classic. You can only have it in-store (no to-go cups), so drink it quickly before it melts.
There's also cold brew ($5) served in a stainless steel cup.
As usual, there's a pourover station offering brews from Kenya, Ethiopia, or a rotating roaster. You can grab an espresso using Forno's Riserva espresso beans, or a cappuccino ($3.70).
Grab it with some crostatas ($4 each). The apricot and chocolate hazelnut are staples, but a seasonal option (in this case, peach) might surprise you.