LUXE ALLURE Flight 55 may seem more Yorkville than Little Italy. But despite the glossy steel and marble, the sleek and sexy room retains its warmth. Chef Donna Ashley offers an adventurous break from the ubiquitous pizzas and pastas with fare that is at once luxurious (lobster tempura sushi roll) and cozy (chicken and wild mushroom stew). 713 College St., 416-533-6849.
POSH PIZZERIA The open kitchen’s rustic wood-burning pizza oven is the main attraction at casually elegant trattoria Vivoli—think Veuve Clicquot with your pizza puttanesca. The menu boasts 15 authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas (thin-crust and flash-fired), as well as an extensive and tempting list of appetizers, pastas, risottos, mains and killer desserts. 665 College St., 416-536-7575.
FAMILY WARMTH Serving authentic Italian classics, the family-owned Bella Vista Trattoria & Wine Bar creates a calm, more adult ambience—as in no DJ. Honest, straightforward dishes, like house-made gnocchi, ravioli and veal, are complemented by a decent wine list. The room is contemporary-casual with warm woods, comfortable chocolate-brown booths and ochre walls. 660 College St., 416-532-2518.
MARTINI MENU The space: dark and sexy. The menu: a mix of international tapas, plus familiar salads, appetizers and mains—Greek salad, calamari, steak frites. Here, at Li’ly Resto-lounge, suggested wines by the glass and bottle take the guesswork out of your perfect night. But with a martini list that’s this fun—the Flirtini, Dirty Harry, Slush Puppy and Birthday Cake—you might want to start a liquid diet. 656 College St., 416-532-0419.
VINTAGE GLAM At Veni Vidi Vici, old-world charm—a vaulted gold-tin ceiling, sepia frescoes—meets classic Italian fare, with a few surprising forays into fusion. A golden glow hangs over very private, high-backed booths where classics are served like penne alla vodka at dinner and eggs Benedict for brunch. A balanced wine list looks after every preference and budget. 650 College St., 416-536-8550.
WINE AWARD La Forchetta Ristorante exudes a romantic vibe and cluttered charm—some of the impressive wine collection is shelved in the dining room. The quietly refined restaurant serves nouvelle-continental meets traditional-regional Italian cuisine. Mains show a fondness for game meats and risottos. A sommelier can help navigate a Wine Spectator Award–winning wine list. 613 College St., 416-534-3100.
SOFT FUSION The setting at Riva Supper Lounge is reason enough to come inside: warm exposed brick and red walls are softened by candlelight reflected by crystal chandeliers and mirrors. But it’s the fusion menu of Mediterranean, North African and Asian cuisines that will keep you. Linger long enough to dance when some of the city’s hottest DJs do their thing. 584 College St., 416-588-7377.
LOCAL FAVE After 16 years and an extreme restaurant makeover, College Street Bar is enjoying a renaissance. Part bar, part restaurant, part live music venue, this neighbourhood institution appeals to a varied clientele, from young and hip to not-so-young but hip nevertheless. They come to indulge in seafood-centric Italian standards, creative martinis, microbrews and live music. 574 College St., 416-533-2417.
To get to Little Italy, take the Yonge-University subway line to Queen’s Park station. From there, board the 506 Carlton streetcar and head westbound. Get off anywhere between Euclid Avenue (three blocks west of Bathurst Street) and Shaw Street (east of Ossington Avenue).