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Little Italy Toronto

Hot Dining: Acadia’s Southern Specialty

Toronto’s diversity generally ensures diners can find almost any type of food at multiple spots across the city. Yet Acadia may stand as the city’s sole haunt for highly stylized interpretations of Lowcountry cooking. Blending the culinary heritage of the South Carolina coast—itself a mix of Cajun and Caribbean influences—and the Maritimes, chef Matt Blondin delivers a precisely pruned menu of sea- and soul-food dishes in a space that’s evocative of an old, oceanside cottage. Among the possible dishes are halibut cheeks with blue cornmeal and pickled prawn ($13) and albacore tuna with blackened spices and a chickpea and celery maque choux ($22), all made with sustainably sourced ingredients, of course.

You Are Here: Little Italy

Though no longer exclusively Italian, this neighbourhood retains a friendly European appeal with numerous cafés and casual restaurants, independent boutiques and more.

Soundscapes (photo by Gizelle Lau)

SUMMER TREAT Sweet escape Dolce Gelato
(697 College St., 416-915-0756) has been serving house-made artisan gelato since 2006, before it became the “cool” thing to do. More than 40 gelato and fruit sorbet flavours are on the menu here, including favourites like hazelnut, pistachio and green tea, plus classics like chocolate and vanilla. Crepes, waffles, Italian cannoli and Dufflet cakes are also available.

NOW HEAR THIS A throwback to the glory days of record stores, Soundscapes packs all manner of vinyl, CDs, concert DVDs and music lit into its cozy space, organized by categories like “prog art noise,” “psych garage,” “experimental” and “British invasion.” Like any good indie music store, the friendly staff are quick to recommend new tunes, especially those by local and Canadian artists.

Grace

COMFORT CUISINE The inviting interior of Grace is just one reason why it’s regarded as one of the best restaurants on the block. Here, chef Dustin Gallagher—lately of Top Chef Canada—elevates “Sunday dinner” staples into delicate and refined dishes, while avoiding any fine-dining stuffiness. Fresh seasonal salads, house-made ricotta gnudi and stuffed quail are just a few items on the reasonably priced menu.

GOOD EATING Inside an old garage, rustic Woodlot doles out crispy-on-the-outside and soft-and-fluffy on the inside loaves, croissants and French madeleines by day. By night, honest and simple Canadian cuisine takes the stage. Meats are roasted in a giant wood-burning oven, vegetables are fresh, seasonal and local, and home-style pastas prove worthy of the restaurant’s Little Italy locale.

Briscola Trattoria (photo by Gizelle Lau)

PIZZA, PASTA AND MORE The newest restaurant on the block, Briscola Trattoria (501 College St., 416-964-1555) lures diners with a classic window front of white lace curtains and retro signage. Inside, though, the vibe is a bit more sophisticated—great for sipping cocktails and vino. The menu offers fun, contemporary twists on such traditional favourites as eggplant parmesan, margherita pizza and grilled veal chop with ragout.

TOP IT OFF Designer Karyn Gingras opened Lilliput Hats in Little Italy more than 17 years ago. In that time her headpieces have gained international acclaim, topping off celebs like Celine Dion, Sandra Oh and Rachel McAdams. Stop by to see Gingras in her atelier boutique. She’s happy to tell you about traditional methods of hat making and help you pick one out for your next garden party.
View You Are Here: Little Italy in a larger map

Hot Dining: World on a Plate

One need not cross the globe—or even, for that matter, this city—to experience international flavours. Skilled chef David Chrystian brings them all to your table at Victor with his Taste Toronto menu, which highlights cuisines of the world as represented by local ethnic pockets such as Little Italy and Chinatown. Like their main-menu counterparts, such as roasted elk and venison ($28), the seven shareable “Taste” dishes ($14 for one dish, up to $79 for all seven) are made with sustainable ingredients and can be matched with selections from a highly regarded list of wines and cocktails. Another reason to visit: the restaurant just received a flattering facelift.

Yours to Discover: Day Two

Winter’s on its way out; it’s time to get a head start on exploring. Guide yourself with our specialized itineraries, or contact one of Toronto’s many tour operators to delve deeper into this multifaceted metropolis. And don’t forget to check out previous Yours to Discover posts, here: Day One.

FAVE NABES
Get a taste for some of Toronto’s vibrant ethnic enclaves in our slideshow.

Participating in a private or small-group walking tour is one of the best ways
to get to know the town. The Toronto experts at A Taste of the World, Genova Tours
and Tour Guys are more than happy to guide you.

Wining and Dining in Toronto’s Little Italy

For a romantic dinner—or a chic spot for any evening—Little Italy is the perfect place. Try our picks to find out why it’s College Street’s hippest strip. (more…)