Buca's industrial-chic interior (photo by Jessica Napier).
1. The rustic Italian heavyweights of Toronto’s dining scene have a new challenger in Buca, a supremely hip yet still homey restaurant that recently opened on King Street West. Brainchild of the owners of similarly stylish steakhouse Jacobs & Co., the industrial-chic space—exposed brick, iron girders, bare light bulbs—suggests tastes both modern and timeless, ably reflected in the daily menu of Italophilic fare conjured by Mark McEwan protégé Rob Gentile. The chef’s authentic offerings are priced in the $12 to $39 range, and could include fresh pastas like veal cappelletti or duck egg tagliatelle, authentically adorned thin-crust pizzas, and, in acquiescence to a growing trend, a variety of flavourful house-cured meats.
Sweet and sour pork at Zin.
2. The words “fine dining” and “Chinese food” are not always synonymous, but they mesh handsomely in Yorkville, where Zin recently took up residence in a turn-of-the-century home. Aiming for upscale, attentive servers proffer delicately plated dishes that add a French inflection to Cantonese cuisine. A smattering of traditional dim sum options (all $4) such as har gow and spring rolls lead into exemplary mains, from Peking Duck ($48) and slow-baked Ontario squab ($28) to sweet-and-sour pork ($14) and two pounds of lobster cooked any way you like ($42).
3. Frightful February weather shouldn’t keep you from a fresh and filling meal. You may find these restos are but an elevator ride away.
>> A mélange of classic dishes and seasonal, locally sourced fare comprises a culinary cornucopia at Annona, aptly named for the Roman goddess of harvest.
>> Yorkville’s One dishes out decadence courtesy of star chef Mark McEwan in a swank room adorned with smoked glass, cowhide leather and tiger-eye onyx.
>> Only top-quality cuts—like Kobe beef striploin ($115)—are served at modern steakhouse Prime. On Sundays, the prime rib dinner ($40) is a meaty value.
>> At Senses, chef Patrick Lin mixes French and Asian inspirations in such entrees as a crispy duck breast ($29) and a trio of crab with tartar sauce and black bean vinaigrette ($27).
>> A mountain-, forest- and ocean-inspired interior reflects the Canadian cuisine—such as birch syrup–glazed arctic char and foie gras ($34)—at Tundra.