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whats good in little italy nowadays?

jennjen18 Jul 30, 2007 06:53 PM

I was researching some restaurant websites, and then comparing it to what Chowhounds have said about them.. and just cannot find one restaurant thats good for me!

Cucina - i love the menu(http://www.cucinacaffe.com/), but its service sucks, apparently http://www.chowhound.com/topics/408460

Cafe Diplomatico - the menu looks wild... its got lots of stuff! (http://www.diplomatico.ca/) but the food sucks http://www.chowhound.com/topics/103981 , but the atmosphere is good though

Il Gatto Nero - people seem to like it in a few posts, but the menu just doesnt jump out at me at all (http://www.ilgattonero.ca/

)

The Big Ragu - seems like a nice, homey place with good food(http://www.chowhound.com/topics/102615), but is the menu that limited? (http://www.thebigragu.com/primi.html

)

... HELP. I would like to have a nice dinner with a boyfriend thats had a tough week (his favourite comfort food is pasta with tomato sauce .. ) and anything with a patio would be a bonus. Our budget is about $20 or under per plate.

Thanks in advance!!!

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  1. pancake RE: jennjen18 Jul 30, 2007 06:57 PM

    Vecchio Frak is decent...good woodoven pizzas, wacky drinks and fun atmosphere. The mussels were not the greatest though. Pasta here is done well.

    Vivoli - Affordable eats. Woodoven pizza, good simple salads, nice patio too. I had a nice cream pasta here with chicken.

    These are two stand-bys that I frequent, although I would not say they are memorable.

    1. jennjen18 RE: jennjen18 Jul 30, 2007 06:58 PM

      oh wait, big ragu isnt even in little italy! ... well, is there something *like* the big ragu in little italy?

      1. t
        tartiflette RE: jennjen18 Jul 31, 2007 06:10 AM

        Actually, I very much enjoy Gatto Nero. The menu is on the smallish side, yes, but I've never had anything I didn't like and they make one of the best cappuccinos in town. The Boy and I usually split an order of mussels and a pizza.

        If it's pasta you're looking for, though, get out of Little Italy and make your way to Terroni's instead (locations near Queen/Shaw, Yonge/Queen and Yonge/Davisville). There's nothing on College that can compete.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tartiflette
          Splendid Wine Snob RE: tartiflette Jul 31, 2007 06:32 AM

          Gatto Nero serves the best coffee in town, no contest.

        2. thenurse RE: jennjen18 Jul 31, 2007 06:51 AM

          Utopia
          www.utopia.ca

          4 Replies
          1. re: thenurse
            j
            JennyBenny RE: thenurse Jul 31, 2007 07:55 AM

            I'll second Utopia. It's not really Italian food but their gourmet poutine with veggie gravy, goat cheese, and mushrooms is amazing. And it's budget-friendly. Main's are around $10 per person.

            1. re: JennyBenny
              Recyclor RE: JennyBenny Jul 31, 2007 12:53 PM

              ..that's about what I was thinking, Utopia, Xacutti, one or 2 others but I'm drawin g a blank and they aren't Italian...I'd reco queen st Terroni, Noce or Gio's for that...

              1. re: JennyBenny
                l
                Little T RE: JennyBenny Oct 18, 2007 10:38 AM

                Like the gourmet poutine over the regular. Heard they no longer serve veggie gravy though, can someone confirm?

              2. re: thenurse
                jennjen18 RE: thenurse Jul 31, 2007 05:06 PM

                i think its http://www.utopiacafe.ca/ rather.

              3. pinstripeprincess RE: jennjen18 Jul 31, 2007 01:11 PM

                i've had some decent success with Bar Italia http://www.bar-italia.ca/ and their menu is not pricey in the least.

                however, i would completely opt for terroni. i love their cracker like crust on the pizzas but the pastas are just to die for. the only one i would stay away from is the orichetti.... the bolognese isn't my fave either and partly because my bf has been learning how to make an absolutely fantastic one that's amazingly rich.

                17 Replies
                1. re: pinstripeprincess
                  h
                  hungryabbey RE: pinstripeprincess Jul 31, 2007 01:16 PM

                  which pasta at terroni would you recomend?

                  1. re: hungryabbey
                    pinstripeprincess RE: hungryabbey Jul 31, 2007 01:33 PM

                    my personal faves... although i tend to douse everythign with chilli oil there...

                    bucantini all'amatriciana
                    pappardelle alla iosa
                    garganelli proscuitto e piselli

                    i want to enjoy the vongole but sometimes it's just way too salty.

                    1. re: pinstripeprincess
                      h
                      hungryabbey RE: pinstripeprincess Jul 31, 2007 05:58 PM

                      mmmm those all do sound good on their menu.. are they still being strict on the no substituion rule?

                      1. re: hungryabbey
                        p
                        paper_bag_princess RE: hungryabbey Jul 31, 2007 06:40 PM

                        yes they are, but there are so many options you'll find something you like

                        1. re: hungryabbey
                          pinstripeprincess RE: hungryabbey Aug 1, 2007 07:31 AM

                          don't ever hope that they will change the no substitution rule because you will forever be sorely disappointed. they sell tshirts that say "no substitutions"... i really doubt this policy will ever change.

                          plus... as much as i love their pizza crust compared to any other i can get in the city.... their mix of toppings never really scream out to me as much as the pasta ones do. they just sound absolutely divine and there's nothing i would ever change about most of them. minus the extra chilli oil of course ;)

                          1. re: pinstripeprincess
                            h
                            hungryabbey RE: pinstripeprincess Aug 1, 2007 11:24 AM

                            No i do agree, I was just wondering as my sister has alot of allergies so I wonder if it would ever be aproblem, but there are sooo many options Im sure theres something for everyone.

                            1. re: hungryabbey
                              b
                              basileater RE: hungryabbey Aug 1, 2007 12:13 PM

                              hungryabbey, FYI I once dined at Terroni with a vegan friend. There weren't any vegan pizzas on the menu and the staff were very gracious and accommodating about changing one of them so she could eat it.

                              I think their "please respect our menu" stance is abrogated somewhat for people with bona fide dietary restrictions.

                              1. re: basileater
                                h
                                hungryabbey RE: basileater Aug 1, 2007 12:42 PM

                                oh perfect thats perfect then

                                1. re: basileater
                                  thenurse RE: basileater Aug 1, 2007 05:52 PM

                                  Same thing happened to me with a vegan friend who wanted salad with no cheese - they were fine with it.

                            2. re: hungryabbey
                              jennjen18 RE: hungryabbey Aug 1, 2007 08:24 PM

                              just came back from terroni's, as per all of your suggestions. re: the no substitution rule .. haha, i didnt read all your comments before going, and i was trying to add chili oil to a pasta that didnt have it, and the waitress said that the chefs are really loyal to the recipes because the recipes are really old.. so i asked whether i could have the chili oil on the side, and of course i got that instead.

                              i ordered the squid ink pasta and it wasnt bad. the pasta texture was a little chewy for my liking (i've had perfect al dente squid ink pasta before, it was perfect), but it wasnt bad. the garlic was YUM. the cuttlefish was nice and tender, not overcooked, and the cherry tomatoes were a nice balance. very yummy.

                              my SO had the spinach gnocchi. it was good, nothing to really rave about. it was nice that they offer many pastas without meat since he was a quasi-veggie.

                              i liked their caprese salad. the tomatoes had a little bit too much salt, but i liked how they presented it - tomatoes and mozzarella were in chunks, piled ontop of each other, rather than slices. very unique. i like a more chunky presentation and texture rather than slicey.

                              ive actually been to the terroni on victoria street and found that the food on queen st. was much better. is that what others found? i didnt have exactly the same food, but .. it seemed better in quality. the menu was different too.

                              1. re: jennjen18
                                h
                                hungryabbey RE: jennjen18 Aug 2, 2007 03:48 AM

                                thanks for the review, I might check it out this weekend

                                1. re: jennjen18
                                  t
                                  tartiflette RE: jennjen18 Aug 2, 2007 10:32 AM

                                  Glad you got your pasta fix! :)

                                  I personally prefer the Queen St location - more selections on the menu, more seating, less cramped and nicer servers. They make a better cappuccino too.

                                  However, I've never really found a huge difference in the food between the two - tho that might be due to the fact that I never order the same dish twice, and so don't really have a good basis for comparison.

                                  1. re: tartiflette
                                    jennjen18 RE: tartiflette Aug 2, 2007 08:10 PM

                                    oh yeah, we both had cappuccinos to end the meal, and they were VERY nice... my SO, who had gone to italy a few years ago, said that its one of the better cappuccinos in the city that resembled what he had in italy ................. me, i dunno. i liked it. :)

                            3. re: hungryabbey
                              Recyclor RE: hungryabbey Jul 31, 2007 01:43 PM

                              ...I'm often lured in by the pasta specials, have always been great...

                              1. re: Recyclor
                                p
                                paper_bag_princess RE: Recyclor Jul 31, 2007 01:50 PM

                                My favourite is the garganelli gorgonzola e radicco (sp?) or the gnocci

                                I love terroni, its the only place I will eat pasta now

                                1. re: paper_bag_princess
                                  pinstripeprincess RE: paper_bag_princess Jul 31, 2007 01:54 PM

                                  a ha! i knew i had the garganelli of some other type with gorgonzola and it wasn't on the menu online.

                                  they change it up but i love the olive oil based sauce ones in general.

                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                    Recyclor RE: pinstripeprincess Jul 31, 2007 01:57 PM

                                    ..I don't recall what it was, but I had a gnocci specials there once and it was dy -no-mite!

                          2. b
                            Bigtigger RE: jennjen18 Jul 31, 2007 02:10 PM

                            Try Gianni Maria on the N side of St Clair W, at Arlington - home-cooked food in a relaxed atmosphere - get to know Maria. And try the Ravioli Piedmontese, best pasta dish in the city imho. Low wine prices too.

                            1. mrbozo RE: jennjen18 Jul 31, 2007 03:20 PM

                              If you should decide on a change from Italian:

                              El Bodegon serves tasty Peruvian food.

                              Not in Little Italy per se but The Pomegranate (College just east of Bathurst) offers very good Persian food. Nice decor and atmosphere as well.

                              1. Delish RE: jennjen18 Jul 31, 2007 03:31 PM

                                On College consider Bella Vista. It's not really a hot spot, but the food is good and honest. I've mentioned before that I really enjoyed a meal I had there in the winter.

                                Regina's is also a time tested red sauce place, though one time my lasagna was cooked way past al dente.

                                I've also had some good meals at Vivoli. There has been consistancy issues in the past and I've not be back in many months, but the rooftop patio and wood burning oven seems to draw a crowd.

                                Sotto Voce is also a good choice. Not a very expansive menu, but what they do the tend to do well.

                                And for something a little bit hipper - Teatro. Good food, good vibe.

                                I think these should all fall within your budget.

                                1. e
                                  Epicure3333 RE: jennjen18 Aug 1, 2007 05:35 PM

                                  I hate to be negative but in my opionon little italy is more style over substance, i havent really found any real foodie destinations

                                  but i will admit to getting some lat night spaghetti arabeatta from diplimatico with a beer late night on the patio from time to time

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Epicure3333
                                    Recyclor RE: Epicure3333 Aug 1, 2007 05:58 PM

                                    Diplimatico? Went there kinda ecpecting some authenticity based on the fact everbody knows it, apparently for the patio only, my bad...I actually had tater tots served to me at brunch.....'nuff said.

                                    1. re: Recyclor
                                      mrbozo RE: Recyclor Aug 1, 2007 06:23 PM

                                      Yum! Tater tots and scrambled eggs with a crisp Chardonnay.

                                      I had a nice antipasto last time. Nothing to rave about, but decent.

                                  2. Joobu RE: jennjen18 Aug 2, 2007 09:06 PM

                                    I've had several decent experiences (now more than a year old) at La Forchetta. The prix fixe was a good deal when I was there.
                                    http://www.laforchettarestaurant.com

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