Toronto has a smorgasbord of sumptuous Italian cuisine to enjoy, and the feast extends beyond the borders of Little Italy on College Street. If you’re hungry in “The 6ix,” make sure to check out these 12 best Italian restaurants. Buon appetito!
Voted one of the best Italian restaurants in Toronto, Ardo has been generating buzz in the culinary world since opening in 2016. This humble-looking Italian restaurant on King Street East features real deal Sicilian cuisine, scoring almost instant acclaim. Chef and owner Roberto Marotta blends traditional Sicilian flavours (Italian, Arabic, Spanish, African, Norman) into exquisite dishes, like sarde – a traditional spaghetti made with Portuguese sardines and a Morocco-inspired sauce with wild fennel, raisins and saffron served atop a sweet potato puree.
Since opening in 2016, there’s been a lot of hype about Piano Piano, a casual eatery on Harbord Street that’s garnered rave reviews for its scratch-made Italian fare. Hungry hordes gravitate here to feast on classic cuisine, like “to-die-for” wood-fired pizza, charcuterie boards served on a silver platter, “fire-licked” lamb, eight-hour braised ragu pasta, sticky sweet gelato, and other delights.
You don’t have to travel to Rome for decadent Roman cuisine. Just mosey over to Dundas West to Enoteca Sociale – a cozy, family-friendly wine bar that’s considered one of the city’s best Italian restaurants. Patrons love the scratch-made dishes, like light and tender gnocchi, rigatoni with pork ragu, and Bucatini All’Amatriciana (a Rome specialty!). PS – there’s a cheese cellar in the basement.
Mangia & Bevi
You would never guess a no-frills office building on King St East houses a fantastic family-run Italian eatery. Mangia & Bevi is beloved by local residents for their laid-back atmosphere and tasty pizza and pastas, made using family recipes from Italy’s Veneto region. On the menu, there’s a selection of crazy-good handmade pastas, and 32 mouth-watering pizzas ranging from a classic Margherita to white pies sprinkled with speck, brie, potatoes, and other tantalizing toppings.
For some of the best Italian cuisine in the city, vie for a table at Terroni – a trendy Southern Italian trattoria that makes handmade noodles and out-of-this-world pizza. Bite into a chewy, thin crust blistered in a wood-fired oven and topped with savoury and sweet ingredients, like sliced pears, smoked prosciutto, honey and gorgonzola cheese. With five locations across the city, you can take your pick of venues when hunger strikes.
For a golden oldie, take the streetcar to Little Italy on College Street and pull up a chair at Café Diplomatico – a classic Italian bar treasured by locals for its casual Italian fare, foamy pints, and sunny patio. For 50 years, it’s been a favourite hangout for Torontonians to watch the World Cup or to catch up with friends over coffee, biscotti, and gelato. Fun fact: the café appeared in the Hollywood film, Chloe, acting as the place where Chloe (Amanda Seyfried), Catherine (Julianne Moore) and David (Liam Neeson) met for espresso.
With the original King West restaurant winning rave reviews, Chef Rob Gentile has grown the Buca family to include an Italian snack bar and a seafood-centred Italian restaurant in Yorkville. But at any Buca location, enjoy superb Old and New World Italian gastronomy, featuring house-cured meats, thin-crust pizza, and handmade pastas stuffed with delicacies like lobster.
Queen Margherita Pizza
Get your ‘za fix at Queen Margherita Pizza, one of the best pizza parlours in Toronto (with three locations throughout the city). The menu showcases some “Nonna-style” classics, like a Margherita pizza topped with fior di latte cheese, tomato sauce, and fresh basil. But if you’re feeling adventurous, try one of Chef John Galante’s funky renditions, such as the La Scala – with a delicate crust and sweet pork belly, hot peppers, arugula, and two types of cheese, it’s got bite!
For a taste of Old World charm, there’s Biagio – an upscale Italian restaurant inside the historic St. Lawrence Hall. In addition to a 1500-label wine list, the menu showcases exquisite Italian antipasto and pasta dishes, such as seafood soup, risotto, and homemade tagliolini with brandy flambéed lobster in a tomato cream sauce. The Provimi veal shank, slowly braised and served with a saffron risotto, is exceptional. With a majestically dressed interior and a cozy outdoor patio surrounded by fountains and foliage, it’s an ideal place for a romantic rendez-vous.
Italian food lovers swear by F’Amelia, a Cabbagetown trattoria offering stellar Northern Italian fare. The rabbit pappardelle and lasagna stuffed with braised beef are favourites, but if you can’t choose, go for pizza. An oven straight from Naples cooks crispy, thin-crust pies topped with real deal ingredients, like San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte cheese and Parma ham. Bliss!
Located in Old Toronto, Carisma resembles the type of eatery found in Tuscany: old-school, family-run, and with impossibly good food. Order pasta and your plate arrives heaping with fresh, handmade noodles sautéed with delicacies such as truffle oil, lobster, or Porcini mushrooms. Save room for secondi with a hefty but heavenly veal scallop, herb-crusted pork chop, or grain-fed half chicken – all swoon-worthy entrees.
On the outskirts of the GTA is Capra’s Kitchen – a casual Italian eatery co-owned by Chopped Canada judge Chef Massimo Capra. This chef is seriously Italian: before settling in Toronto, he was raised in Northern Italy on his father’s dairy farm, and later, cleaned scallops in Venice. Now, he’s crafting casual modern Italian fare, using ingredients sourced locally and from both Italy and Canada. FYI: it’s not unusual to see Chef Capra walking around the restaurant, greeting guests and hanging out at tables.