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Is there such thing as good Italian buffet...

Ive heard of two in the GTA: Vinnie Zucchinis and I think Frankie Tommatos, and I just wonder to myself, is it possible that these are any good? Probably not. Im not usually into buffet, but its a good option when you have kids coming down for the holidays and you need something simple everyone can eat instead of your typical Manderin buffet. Anyone tried either of these places?

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  1. Vinnie Zucchinis is terrible. I would avoid it.
    I haven't been to Frankie Tomato's in years. It was ok as far as a buffet goes. Not in respect of Italian food, in general.
    I don't know what it's like now.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pescatarian

      There was a time years ago when Frankie Tomato's used to be fantastic. There used to be a great Town & Country around the corner at the same time, early 1990s...then T&C disappeared and Frankie's dropped to mediocre and now? (I haven't been back in a few years)

    2. I've been to both years ago...if I had to choose one, I'd say Vinnie Zucchinni's...fresher and the restaurant has a better layout which meant easier access to the buffet stations.

      1. Do not go to Vinnie Zucchini unless you happen to be treating a midget hockey team to a celebratory meal. It's not good. At all.

        2 Replies
          1. re: hungryabbey

            I wouldnt even touch Frankie Tomatoes. I would only go if you where gonna pay for my meal. Kinda bland, and the meatballs where the frozen kind, all you can eat in a meat sauce that tasted like the tin can. Tour boi

        1. Mt aunt and DH went to an Il Fornello lunch buffet and they were pretty happy. I haven't tried it though.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ctl98

            I LOVE the Il Fornello lunch buffet at the Eglinton location. We used to go there for lunch all the time when I worked in the area and were never disappointed. I know they have lunch buffets at the Danforth location as well, but I've never tried it.

          2. on wednesdays hot house has a dinner buffet, i've never been, but maybe someone else could comment

            1 Reply
            1. re: mainja

              hmm thats interesting, as far as kinda 'big establishment' style italian, I have never had a bad meal at hot house

            2. Well this will be the 12th time in 13 years that my wife and I have gone to frankie tomatoes for our anniversary dinner, it's a great atmosphere, with great food & good prices. The frist anniversary dinner was at vinnie zucchini and it was our last -- blah

              1 Reply
              1. re: junior

                what other restaurants do you frequent?

              2. Q. "Is there such thing as good Italian buffet..."

                A. No

                12 Replies
                1. re: Finnegan

                  There's no such thing as a good buffet period.

                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                      I went to a buffet at Kind Edwards Hotel once and it was not bad, was about $40. However a $50 Father's Day buffet at Lai Wah Heen was not worth it, very ordinary food, very small pieces of lobser were doled out one by one.

                      That having said, it depends on one's perception of "good". If you expect to get a quality of food proportional to what you paid for, you can find perfectly edible food, though maybe not the freshest. But if you expect the same quality at a $20 buffet as a meal you would pay $40+ for, of course there is no such thing. I can say that I've been to a $20 buffet that's equilvalent to a good $20 meal (e.g. China Buffet King a few years ago.)

                      1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                        Go to Chef of India for their lunch buffet and then say that.


                        1. re: Davwud

                          Catherine Jheon from CBC radio's "Beyond Burgers" just reviewed the buffet at Chef of India this morning.

                          Hmmm...this is why I like this board. It reminds me to keep an open mind ;)

                            1. re: Davwud

                              That the food was prepared fresh (no use of "left-over" food) and overall it was a favourable review. She mentioned that the atmosphere was nice and the price is very decent as well. I think I recall her saying that the lunch buffet was $9.99???

                              This might be a problem. I have a serious weakness for good Indian food.

                              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                I was there for lunch on Friday and the place was packed. I guess a lot of people were listening.


                        2. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                          Generally but not always true. I went to a dinner buffet in Hong Kong that was excellent and there are some pretty good ones in Vegas as well. In Toronto, have you tried the Sunday brunch buffet at the Avenue in Four Seasons? It's very good but not cheap.

                          1. re: syoung

                            I provided an earlier reply to my dislike of buffets, but the Chowhound editors didn't like it, so it wasn't posted.

                            I'm tired of being 'EDITED" for no reason.

                            1. re: syoung

                              I agree with Las Vegas as a good buffet choice...My husband and I stayed at the Bellagio in June '06...loved the buffet so much we went 3 times in the course of our one week stay...not cheap but quite reasonable by Vegas standards. Lots of choices, usually fresh tasting and fresh looking....BIG..lineups after 6:30 p.m. In the 'old days'...the Towne & Coutry on Mutual Street in Toronto was THE place to go!!

                            2. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                              There are very few good buffets now but one I really liked was the Sunday buffet brunch at Doctor's House in Kleinburg, in the early eighties. (1980 - 82 or so). That was a great buffet!


                          2. there used to be a good Italian buffet last year called Tre Fontane. But unfortunately they closed down...oh i do miss the food there....

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: food_lover

                              Frankie is serviceable these days. Good food? Not really. But it is edible as long as you avoid the pizza and the bread. Bellagio it is not. Only worth it if you're paying $9 for the lunch buffet.

                              1. re: food_lover

                                me too. reminded me of my own italian grandmothers cooking.
                                the veal was great, espeically for an 8.99 buffet. they came over and talked and actually served customers and were so cute. i wonder what happened...

                              2. They used to close in the summer (or was it winter?) to go back home to Italy every year. Perhaps they decided to permanently retire.

                                1. I can't rec a buffet, but as I recall Michelangelo's has no trouble accommodating children's tastes and isn't far from you.

                                  All real family run/oriented Italian restaurants will modify their dishes to suit.

                                  1. Sheez! For what we paid when last there Tomatos was fantastic! Go when it's busy. It's "buffet" only for the cold items like salads, pickles, shrimps, mussels, desserts, etc. but the pizza, ham, salmon, roast or whatever mains were carved and served from stations at a steady pace - as close as you can get to home cooked and home served as you could find in Toronto. There was no chance for the items to congeal.

                                    You have kids coming?... it's a great kids' place! Good, plain cooking for a very small price. We were closer to Vinnies when in Toronto but never tried it. Still sorry about that.

                                    1. I go to Frankie Tomatos all the time for lunch. I will give grade 8.
                                      it's a great atmosphere & service and good price for lunch
                                      the only thing is they don't change the menu hardly ever but pretty good food.
                                      I am glad this place is in town
                                      I also tried Vinnie Zucchinis few times. in over all the food is too salty & less variety

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: cherrypuppy

                                        Frankie's great for children's birthday parties. I take my daughter and her friends there every year for her birthday. Everyone gets to eat what they want - including dessert.