La Rose Bakery
La Rose Bakery is one of the most authentic Italian bakeries and delis in Toronto. Family-run and known for their cannoli, it’s the type of place where old couples shout out orders for espressos as they’re shopping and then carry them around as they make their selections.
As owner Elaine Stalteri puts it, it’s real Italian, not “Italian-esque.” She runs the place that gets crazy lineups on weekends for their rock-bottom prices on closely guarded recipes for donuts and ciabatta with her son, Leo, and addresses me as “youse” throughout my visit.
It’s close quarters in here, with a giant central counter that encompasses pastries, deli meats, and a steam table. On one side there’s produce, and on the other, dry goods and the cafe counter.
Ciabatta is jaw-droppingly cheap at $2.99, so it’s usually sold out by two or three. It simply nails that balance of a hard crust and soft inside, always handmade so no two loaves are the same. Olive cheese bread ($3.99) has a savoury flavouring of black olives, savoury onions and cheese.
Even the simplest coffees are made with care and attention to detail here, using Lambada Italian coffee. Leo uses a container without a handle to steam milk because “you have to feel it.”
Chocolate and cinnamon in a cappuccino ($2.15) are layered between espresso and milk so all flavours come through.
All divine handmade pastries are $1.50, including the crunchiest lobster tail filled with the most amazing filling I have ever had. Though secrets won’t be revealed, the custard is ultra-creamy but has a little lemony kick that really makes it.
The flavour of cannoli shells is pure deep-fried goodness, filled with custard with chocolate chips and an unforgettable sweet creaminess.
Panzerotti ($4.45) are filled with deli ham, mushrooms, tons of stretchy mozzarella and sauce, bringing the same deep-fried flavour to a generous savoury lunch.
Should you want to slap that same ham on a sandwich, deli meats are sliced behind the counter and sold per 100 grams, with options like prosciutto cotto (99 cents), genoa salami ($1.79), mortadella ($1.30) or roast chicken ($1.99).
At the back is the bread section where they not only sell ciabatta but a wide assortment of buns and loaves, like seven grain and whole wheat.
They also bake fifty-cent bagels and other items like corn bread ($2.25).
The same is true for pastries, for while they may be known for Italian cannoli, this place also has biscotti, almond cookies, zeppoli, and much more including custom cakes.
Even more awaits at this Etobicoke trove of Italian treasures.