As Justin Lussier traveled through Naples in 2005, he decided to stop for the city's famous pizza at a small street-side eatery bearing the sign Pizzeria Sorbillo. He loved his traditional thin-crust pie so much that he rushed to a pay phone and called his friends Christian Bullock and Jason Allard to tell them that he wanted to make that same pizza. When Justin returned to Canada, the trio travelled to confer with the culinary experts at Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) in order to uncover what truly makes a pizza Neapolitan. Two years later, the friends set out to open Famoso.
Famoso's chefs all follow strict guidelines set by the AVPN—they only use OO Caputo flour imported from Naples, and they hand mill tomatoes imported from the foot of Mount Vesuvius, where each crop is grown in soil enriched by volcanic ash and sung to daily by volcanologists. Chefs top the crust with local fior di latte mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, and pecorino romano cheese. They then spread dough into wafer-thin disks, which they blast-fire at 900 degrees for 90 seconds inside imported Italian bell-shaped ovens. Pizzas are also topped with ingredients such as soppressata, oven-roasted Italian sausage, kalamata olives, and truffle oil.
Famoso Baristas can pair many of these pies, some of which are reinvented twice each year, with a mix of local and international wines—including vintages from Italy and Canada—and hand-crafted gelato. At each restaurant, they ferry dishes and drinks through rustic and inviting interiors, each of which reflects the unique style of its neighbourhood, though all are united by accents of exposed brick and wood, wine-bottle art, and sculptural pizza-box displays.
Though Mrs. Biederhof, Monty, and Veda play central roles in the world of Mildred Pierce, in Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, they’re covered in sauce and served on shared plates. Restaurateurs Donna Dooher and Kevin Gallagher discovered their mutual love for the classic novel and film when working in an upscale restaurant in Ottawa. Their shared passion for local, approachable cuisine led them to open their warehouse-district eatery in 1989, though they eventually settled in Liberty Village, where they continue to serve their character-inspired dishes with the aid of a diverse team of chefs.
Their chefs draw from a range of culinary backgrounds to reinvent classic dishes with global twists, such as gnocchi poutine, Sri Lankan–style shrimp and crab cakes, and chicken biryani. Though many of their menu items change seasonally, some have been menu mainstays since the beginning, including burgers hand-ground in house, profiteroles infused with Lindt chocolate, and pancakes hand-raised on a farm. To ensure each dish lives up to its potential, staff members seek out the freshest potatoes, asparagus, strawberries, and other produce on twice-weekly visits to the Ontario Food Market and use only Ocean Wise–certified fish.
Servers ferry dishes to small tables and a large, communal harvest table in the contemporary dining space, where hardwood floors contribute a rustic aesthetic and railroad-side windows spill in natural light while keeping out engine noises and railway bandits. A slightly raised, open kitchen lets diners watch their chefs prepare the meal, and an outdoor patio lets them bask in warmer weather.
Low lights, wood detailing, and comfortable chairs create a casual lounge vibe at Insomnia, which fosters its namesake with a late-night atmosphere, drinks, and internationally-inspired comfort fare. Contemporary American and European fare populates the menu with dishes such as an 8-oz. ribeye steak in a red wine mushroom reduction. Crispy pizzas call out local locales such as the Queen Street topped with pesto, smoked salmon, and chèvre, or the Annex with grilled eggplant, roasted garlic, and portobello mushrooms. Dozens of martinis give patrons a reason to linger, with sips of innovative Rivera martinis or top-shelf martinis such as a classic preparation with Hendrick's cucumber-infused gin. A cluster of fairy lights twinkles above the bar and guides patrons to their tables, which are often occupied by complimentary imaginary friends. Against one of the exposed brick walls, paintings from monthly featured artists hang above a long wooden banquette faced with tables.
On weekends, Insomnia serves brunch garnished with mimosas and martinis. Multiple variations on eggs benedict feature house-made hollandaise sauce and a Heaven on Earth french-toast sandwich channels dulcet divinity with a filling of wild berries and cream cheese drizzled in Canadian maple syrup.
Though he draws his inspiration from global flavours, Executive Chef Dan Sanders crafts Globe Bistro's dishes entirely from locally sourced ingredients. With bread baked and meat dry aged in-house, he creates upscale cuisine such as composed beet salad, braised ox-tail tortellini and elk tartare, dazzling diners with his culinary prowess and imitation of sizzling bacon from within the open kitchen. More than a dozen wines by the glass and hundreds of labels from Globe Bistro's VQA and Wine Spectator award-winning collection, including many bottles from local winemakers, highlight notes of flavour in the dishes.
Meals unfold inside a former theatre and bowling alley whose original floors provide the foundation for Globe Bistro's three-level dining room. There, sumptuous chandeliers illuminate wall tapestries of dancing figures and a stage space for live music and media presentations. The second floor hosts intimate gatherings in the private dining room, and the rooftop patio and wine bar serve snacks and drinks every day starting at 4 p.m. while guests revel in full view of the darkening sky and the intricate pulley system that changes day to night. Click here to view a virtual tour of the restaurant.
Although its dishes hail from India, Amaya The Indian Room’s food reflects its North American setting. Crafted from fresh local produce, the dishes are delicately spiced to accommodate a Western palate, rather than eye-wateringly hot. According to the eatery’s profile in the Globe and Mail, the restaurant's founders likewise opted for Western decor, outfitting their dining room with wood panelling and photographs, rather than the temple-inspired decor that they viewed as stereotypical.
The upscale food, however, hews to the subcontinent’s culinary traditions. Diners can feast on lentils cooked for 12 hours in buttery tomato sauce, short ribs braised in kashmiri chili, and prawns bathed in coconut-milk curry. The wine-marinated lamb lollipops, meanwhile, are easier to eat than the original Indian lollipop, a tandoori oven on a stick. For an alternative to these à la carte items, the tasting menu lets patrons sample small portions of multiple dishes. The expansive wine list, meanwhile, pairs seamlessly with meals and offers a subversive touch—Indian food is typically served with beer.