By combining the rustic simplicity of Italian cooking with the unmistakable flavours of Canadian ingredients, PAESE serves as a bridge between the Old and New World. The restaurant currently boasts two locations in the Toronto area, and they both honour Canadian heritage and Italian tradition by cooking with ingredients harvested from an urban garden. Created by owner Tony Loschiavo and executive chef Christopher Palik, this quarter-acre plot produces everything from tomatoes and chili peppers for the chefs to mint and lavender for the bartenders and any visiting potpourri artists.
These ingredients lend a distinctive twist to traditional Italian recipes without straying too far from those roots. In addition to meatballs made from house-ground beef short rib, sirloin, and brisket, the menu features pizzas with inventive topping combinations?buffalo mozzarella, sprouts, and squash for example?and a variety of pasta dishes, such as orecchiette with wild boar sausage and foraged mushrooms. Both restaurants stock cellars with hundreds of wines from across the world, earning a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence for the King Street location as well as the Bathurst Street location.
Although Amaro Pizza's menu boasts an extensive array of traditional finger foods, a selection of familiar and gourmet-inspired pizzas continues to dominate its pages. The cooks can toss together one of their classica pies, such as the margherita classica or the potato alla cream with rosemary and parmesan, or diners can design their own using the 64 available toppings—including smoked salmon, prosciutto, and grilled eggplant—and 19 different polyhedrons of house-made dough. To accompany meals, the kitchen also fries up spicy and savoury orders of wings and layers garlic focaccia bread with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh herbs.
Though Spigolo Ristorante specializes in housemade entrees—an authentic approach known as casareccia—its daily specials suggest that "home" might be a thriving woodland. The chef prepares wild game such as boar, bison, and pheasant to supplement the menu’s meat and pasta mainstays. Tender bites of braised rabbit or fresh cod might balance out helpings of housemade gnocchi, which mingles with mushrooms in a cream sauce. Other dishes exhibit a calculated mix of sweet and savoury flavours—seared italian sausage arrives dressed in a wine-and-olive-oil drizzle, and an appetizer of prosciutto derives a honeyed touch from poached pears. Every meal begins with a focaccia pizza for the table to share or use for discus practice amid the burnt-orange walls and rustic stonework of the dining room.
Pizza forms the cornerstone of the menu at Papa Leo’s. The award-winning pies come in varieties such as chicken cordon blue, Meteor Meat Lovers, veggie garden, and philly cheesesteak. There’s even a pizza covered with buffalo-chicken fingers, the culinary equivalent of scoring a touchdown while simultaneously hitting a home run.
Despite its inventiveness with pies, Papa Leo’s menu branches out beyond pizza. From deli specialties such as a hot BLT or cheesesteak hoagie sub to seafood such as Icelandic haddock, the food roster has something for everyone. There’s even a Mexican bent to the menu—beef, chicken, and steak tacos come with cheese and veggies.
Avanti Grill's menu dedicates a small chunk of real estate to gourmet pies. Barbecue chicken, reuben sandwich fixings, and taco toppings reside on some of the creative pizzas. But the menu also gives due respect to more upscale Italian food: steaks and seafood, pasta, and ribs, as well as salads and sandwiches.