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.
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.
Elegant five-star hotels. The United Nations. Bustling cruise ships. For Chef Johnee Savarimuthu, no venue is too intimidating. Since completing his training at the Culinary Institute of America, he's prepared meals for international luminaries in kitchens around the globe. After years of wayfaring, he settled in Toronto, bringing his flair for food to the prep stations of 5th Element Restaurant. Open since 2006, the restaurant made a immediate splash with local diners when it was named an official restaurant of that year's Toronto International Film Festival. Praised at the time by the Toronto Star for its "primo location" and "trendy Indian-Mediterranean fusion food," the restaurant continues to turn out memorable meals today. Inside the dining room, the warm smell of curry wafts up from the sleek tables that line a long banquette. Menus change every 30-45 days to keep flavors fresh, but past praise-earning dishes include "Indo-Med dishes such as halibut, Goan-style strip sirloin and pork ribs marinated in mango chutney." No matter the dishes at hand, meals always pair well with selections from the wine list; behind the bar, resident mixologists also shake up lychee, mango, and French martinis.
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.
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 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 ? 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.
In Toronto, eating is more than nutrition for a body, it's all about nurturing mind and soul, too. It's how locals reconnect with friends after a long work week and it's a primary reason visitors plan their vacations, time and again, in this beautiful city. Toronto restaurants offer it all. World-renowned chefs, restaurants that draw folks in from around the world and of course, the service and commitment to quality that keep visitors and locals coming back for more, in many ways, is like a crossroads of global food favorites.
The Good Fork Brunch and Bistro serves brunch seven days a week. One can enjoy deep fried poached eggs, topped with romesco sauce and Parmesan along with warm flatbed and hand cut fries. This lovely bistro offers breakfast platters with a classic favorite: pancakes. With a warm and inviting atmosphere and affordable prices, it's no wonder it's a Toronto favorite.
Canoe, Oliver and Bonacini’s flagship restaurant, is a classic favorite. With recently completed renovations, it too has an inviting atmosphere and friendly wait staff. With global inspiration that defines its vast menu, there's a certain casualness about this restaurant that draws visitors in. It accommodates vegetarians and vegans as well, making it a versatile choice.
In Toronto, food is about far more than just a recipe - it's about exploring and considering new cultures and flavor combinations. Whether it's a "come as you are" relaxed dining atmosphere or a full-scale, reservation-driven Toronto restaurant, there's no end to the possibilities for residents and vacationers alike. It just doesn't get any better.