The top 12 regional Italian restaurants in Toronto
Italian restaurants in Toronto revere the numerous, surprisingly distinct culinary traditions spanning Italy's diverse provinces. From the pepperoncino laced food of the South to the dizzying array of fresh seafood of the Mediterranean, these places offer up a range of dishes that you're unlikely to spot on a standard do-it-all menu.
Here are my picks for the top regional Italian restaurants in Toronto.
F'Amelia is a popular Cabbagetown institution serving north-Italian inspired fare. Start with the pan-seared calamari served in a complex sausage sauce. From there, work your way to the gamey papardelle with braised rabbit.
King East's Mangia & Bevi started out years ago with modest beginnings as a grab and go coffee and sandwich bar. Now the Italian spot is serving up full meals using recipes from their family back in the Veneto region of Italy.
Savour Italian dishes from the Abruzzo at Mistura on Davenport Rd. Some highlights on the menu include red beet risotto, fall off the bone lamb ribs, and their handmade pastas.
Tutti Matti is a Tuscan restaurant in the Entertainment District serving some of the best pasta in the city. Make sure to pop by in late summer when they serve up sinfully crisp zucchini flowers that melt in your mouth. Have a sip of your Aperol spritz, close your eyes, and pretend you're in Florence.
Ciao Roma brings Roman style Pizza al Taglio - by the cut - to Woodbridge. The real joy at this place comes from walking in and discovering what's not listed. The roster changes frequently to cycle through about 30 different combinations.
Though a number of pizzerias have opened up in recent years claiming to serve Neapolitan pizza, the Pizzeria Libretto chain arguably rules the scene. The blistered Margherita coated in rich tomato sauce and studded with basil and fresh Ontario fior di latte is a favourite.
Housed in an old bank on Etobicoke's lakeshore, Cellar Door serves up some of the city's best Calabrian dishes. Complimentary homemade rosemary foccacia with olive oil makes for a tasty starter. For something different, try the smoky, wood-roasted potato gnocchi.
A visit to 7 Numbers on the Danforth or Eglinton West will result in an interesting dining experience. The menu often changes so if you're lucky enough to catch it, make sure to try the fresh, oozy burrata or their tender and spicy braised rabbit.
Ardo on King East serves up superb Sicilian inspired food like house-baked sourdough and imported Sicilian olive oil, burrata with preserved peaches and pizzas topped with shaved speck and cantaloupe.
Stelvio on Queen West is where you'll find some of the best curated selection of cheese in Toronto, all hailing from Italy's Alps. The dishes here are hearty, evocative of their alpine origin. Start with the sciatt, perfect deep fried clouds of cheesy goodness.
La Bruschetta in Corso Italia doesn't aim to be snobby - instead it exudes the quiet elegance of Italian food done right. Start with spuntini, grilled polenta served with an assortment of toppings. Pasta is split up into short and long varieties which are dressed accordingly.
Enoteca Ascari 26 in Leslieville is the perfect place to become a regular. Here you'll find a menu of small bites, antipasti and homemade pasta made fresh in house daily. Don't forget to wash it all down with a superb bottle of wine - or two.
Jesse Milns at Pizzeria Libretto. With files from Maria Vanta.
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