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Alternatives to Pusateri's

itryalot Aug 3, 2007 04:28 PM

Any other good grocers/butchers/take out/importers of Italian or Mediterranean foods? We like this because it is a one stop shop, but would love to try somewhere else that carries quality and varied imported fare other than Zehrs, Costco and Highland Farms.

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    Beef Pattie RE: itryalot Aug 3, 2007 05:24 PM

    Are you looking for something in the vicinity of Pusateri's or are you willing to travel a bit?

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      ishmael RE: itryalot Aug 3, 2007 06:48 PM

      Pasquale Bros on Goodrich in Etobicoke ( Islington and Queensway area). Carries a large variety of imported goods from Italy France Spain and Mexico. Supplies many of the high end restos in town both Italian and non. I believe they are open Sat AM till noon.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ishmael
        pinstripeprincess RE: ishmael Aug 9, 2007 01:37 PM

        i second this one. in terms of a grand selection including prepared foods and breads.. they will not have this. but what they do have is very high quality products and fantastic prices. their cheese counter is unrivaled in pricing and their sandwiches ($6 inclusive of a drink, not just a can o' pop but limonata) are amazing. love their 15 yr aged balsamic, teas from france, sauces and peppers of all types, various honeys. really great.

        1. re: ishmael
          Mila RE: ishmael Aug 10, 2007 07:10 AM

          I'm crying on my keyboard now. I soooo wish they were still downtown. Always had a great selection of Cajun foods, bomba rice for paella and paella pans, great antipasto selection and so much more. Road trip time to Etobicoke.


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          foodieinTO RE: itryalot Aug 3, 2007 07:22 PM

          Have you tried Genoa on Eglinton West?

          2 Replies
          1. re: foodieinTO
            GRobin RE: foodieinTO Aug 6, 2007 12:55 AM

            Genoa has been out of business for a couple of momths now.

            1. re: foodieinTO
              edibleTO RE: foodieinTO Aug 6, 2007 05:45 AM

              Genua Fine Foods did, indeed, close up a couple of months ago. One of the owners is re-opening one block east on Eglinton, under the name "Tony's on the Block." It's a much bigger store and will probably be better than ever.

            2. m
              Mila RE: cheesymama Aug 10, 2007 12:14 PM

              Friday afternoon, waiting for the weekend gossip...
              Harvest wagon is selling tomatoes for $14.99 a pound that they buy from Cookstown greens for $4 a pound. Thieves is an understatement.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Mila
                jayt90 RE: Mila Aug 10, 2007 02:34 PM

                If they pay $4/lb it is too much for August tomatoes. There are tons of good tomatoes, organic or fresh grown, for much less. But the location, clientele, and waste at Harvest Wagon ensures a high mark up. And they will maintain the price under falling pressure.

              2. jayt90 RE: itryalot Aug 4, 2007 05:18 PM

                There is a grocer and importer, Nasr, on Lawrence Ave east of Warden north side, easy to find. I believe they are Egyptian, and source from the eastern Med.area.
                They are not really butchers or take out, but meat trays are available; and mid eastern groceries, spices, and oils from all around the Mediterranean, on up to the Balkans.They have a lot to offer, and only Highland Farms comes close (of those mentioned on this page.) Arz is another source, on Lawrence East.

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                  itryalot RE: itryalot Aug 5, 2007 06:13 AM

                  Thanks for all the recommedations. Went to Pusateri's yesterday on my girlfriend foodie trip. Will try these others in a couple of weeks. Yes, am willing to travel.

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                    itryalot RE: itryalot Aug 5, 2007 06:21 PM

                    Not looking necessarily for cheese place, but for an all encompassing grocer (does not have to have take out), with good quality and lots of selection of imported, authentic items.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: itryalot
                      GRobin RE: itryalot Aug 6, 2007 01:00 AM

                      Grande Cheese is an interesting spot with a gigantic selection of Italian products, zillions of olive oils and vinegars, bottled peppers, artichokes, capers, anchovies, amazing Italian canned tuna (you'll never eat that chalky flaked white stuff in water again!), a huge pasta selection, many types of canned and jarred tomatoes, plus of course meats and cheeses (though I don't happened to like or buy my cheese there). But the packaged goods are fabulous and IMHO, cheap, especially compared to Pusateri's, Cheese Boutique ( a royal rip off), Whole Foods etc.

                      1. re: GRobin
                        itryalot RE: GRobin Aug 7, 2007 04:35 AM

                        I have never bought my cheese there; the quality is average of their items and good for everyday cooking, but if you want to use that extra special something, they are lacking. They are always swamped and cater to the average shopper, which is me most of the time. But, I can get that at home, I want the special stuff when I come to TO.

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                      wordsworth RE: itryalot Aug 6, 2007 04:42 AM

                      Everything they carry that I've see elsewhere, is 33-50% more and I've neve found their stuff to be any better than Bruno's or even Longo's. Pusateri's is a complete ripoff. It's for people who do not care about price at all.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: wordsworth
                        KevinB RE: wordsworth Aug 7, 2007 06:55 AM

                        We have a Bruno's near by, and it's the place we go to when we want real quality meats. The selection and quality is the best we've found, and they have the decency to cut their steaks and chops nice and thick, so you can grill them, get a nice char outside, and still have a rare centre.

                        Pusateri's is great to visit to find things you won't find anywhere else, but you have to put up with incredible parking hassles, very high prices, and a "chaotic" experience at best. It's a once-a-year visit for us at best.

                      2. Rabbit RE: itryalot Aug 6, 2007 04:43 AM

                        Sun Valley Fine Foods (on the Danforth) is a nice gourmet grocery.

                        And while it's not quite what you originally requested, the Big Carrot (also just a short trip down the block on the Danforth) is great one-stop shopping for organics. They have lots of interesting products, and it might be worth a look if you're in that 'hood.

                        1. Mr Rabbit RE: itryalot Aug 6, 2007 09:00 AM

                          St Lawrence Market!

                          The only thing at Pusateri's that is not at the St Lawrence is the Indonesian civet shite coffee.

                          But you can buy Kangaroo meat at the St Lawrence.

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                            bluedog RE: itryalot Aug 6, 2007 09:07 AM

                            I firmly believe that Masellis Brothers on the Danforth is approaching this quality. While they can be inconsistent wrt produce, they have a consistent selection of imported italian products including an amazing selection of pastas, cheeses, meats (including house cured capicolla and prosciutto), olive oils, vinegars, etc. While they don't carry extremely high end products (e.g. no 100 year old balsamic vinegar that I've seen), the stuff they do carry keep the italians in our neighbourhood firmly supplied with everything they want or need day to day, as well as the rest of us.

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                              itryalot RE: itryalot Aug 7, 2007 04:37 AM

                              I think I will hit Sun Valley and Maselli bros in a couple of weeks. Thanks for the recs.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: itryalot
                                Googs RE: itryalot Aug 9, 2007 11:59 AM

                                You cannot be a good Italian grocer without impeccable produce. Have you tried the original Pusateri's on Avenue Rd? I find I always have that creepy, ripped off feeling when I'm at the Bay St store. No such vibe at Avenue. I find that location's selection of Italian goods unparalleled. I could spend a week there.

                                1. re: Googs
                                  bluedog RE: Googs Aug 9, 2007 12:07 PM

                                  Sun Valley has great produce. While Masellis can be inconsistent, I think this will improve if their customer base (i.e. turnover) improves. They are at a disadvantage considering their location with respect to the $$ on the Danforth, which probably also explains the lack of extremely high end products. They've learned over the years what their clientele will purchase. Nonetheless I still believe they fall into the category of "good grocers/butchers/take out/importers of Italian or Mediterranean foods" as itryalot requested.

                                  1. re: bluedog
                                    itryalot RE: bluedog Aug 9, 2007 12:53 PM

                                    I have been to Sun Valley and enjoyed it immensely, although the dry goods section did not have a lot of unique items. So you are saying Maselli's would be good then?

                                    1. re: bluedog
                                      Mila RE: bluedog Aug 10, 2007 07:14 AM

                                      Sun Valley is $$$, Maselli's is $.
                                      Maselli's has their own house cured meats and a decent selection of Italian dry goods.
                                      For produce I'd go to Fruit King at Logan and Danforth or the place across the street. Cash only.

                                    2. re: Googs
                                      itryalot RE: Googs Aug 9, 2007 12:52 PM

                                      That's the one I went to and it was lacklustre, as I said. It was out of the way and the only thing that I have not seen elsewhere is the organic prosciutto; otherwise some of the items I purchased at SLM were cheaper there.

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                                    itryalot RE: itryalot Aug 12, 2007 07:15 AM

                                    Will be down again soon and I plan to visit Cheese Boutique, Pasquale Bros and Maselli Bors on te Danforth IF we can decide where to have the best gyros. I will post a report here when I return. Thanks everyone - now I have to find some decent gyros!

                                    11 Replies
                                    1. re: itryalot
                                      millygirl RE: itryalot Aug 12, 2007 07:29 AM

                                      In my opinion Sun Valley has really gone down hill. Calling it a gourment grocery is a real stretch. The quality is no longer there. They use to seek out speciality items (salad dressings, tapenades, spreads, etc) but over the last while I find they have a real focus on their own private label. The service is really poor and I pretty much only go when I need something in a hurry. A few months ago I ran in to get some sour cream for baking, rushed home only to find the sc was staled dated by close to 3 weeks. Naturally pissed, I immediately went back only to be given a hassle because I did not have my receipt. Finally the cashier tells me to go ahead and get another one. I asked her if she was going to have someone check the stock to make sure all staled dated containers are removed and she looked at me like I had 2 heads. Sorry but I would not use gourmet and SV in the same sentence. If you want gourmet head to Summerhill Market.

                                      1. re: millygirl
                                        bluedog RE: millygirl Aug 12, 2007 10:30 AM

                                        I agree with service issues, at least, at SV. Often very surley disinterested staff, with some exceptions.

                                        They used to get all their beef, BTW, at Royal Beef up near Woodbine. Haven't been there since Paul passed, though, so not sure if quality is still there.

                                        1. re: bluedog
                                          Rabbit RE: bluedog Aug 12, 2007 12:57 PM

                                          Sad to hear... I used to live on the Danforth and loved SV, but admittedly made my recommendation based on what seems to be slightly outdated information. Sorry to learn the store seems to have gone downhill.

                                          1. re: bluedog
                                            Full tummy RE: bluedog Sep 19, 2007 09:37 AM

                                            Have been to Royal Beef many times since then, and I have to say Carmen, Paul's wife, and Gord, Paul's longtime butcher friend, are doing an excellent job of keeping quality high. Definitely still a great place for beef.

                                            1. re: Full tummy
                                              millygirl RE: Full tummy Sep 19, 2007 09:42 AM

                                              Agreed Full tummy, Royal Beef is still a great shop...although every time I walk in there I feel a heavy heart for Paul. What has gone down hill though IMO is Sun Valley.

                                              1. re: Full tummy
                                                JamieK RE: Full tummy Sep 19, 2007 11:27 AM

                                                Third that. We go there all the time and Gord is very helpful with our meat selections. Great place for beef and we have also had great success with some pork and lamb items from there too.

                                                1. re: Full tummy
                                                  bluedog RE: Full tummy Sep 19, 2007 11:29 AM

                                                  Good to hear it. It has been a long time since I've been there.

                                              2. re: millygirl
                                                embee RE: millygirl Aug 12, 2007 01:43 PM

                                                Sun Valley in Greektown has not become a BAD store. They still have a nice selection of specialty items, condiments, oils, baked goods, frozen stuff, and the like. They still have a decent produce dept. In short, Sun Valley is still worth going to when you are in the area. They probably don't justify a special trip across town. And you should certainly check out the Pape IGA for better prices on items carried at both places.

                                                The quality of the meats, cheeses, and deli has definitely declined, though not to a level that would justify outright avoidance.

                                                The service has never been good. Many staff members don't know or care about very much. I've seen unfortunate management actions that would not create a good environment for many of the people who work there.

                                                (Note that the other Sun Valley location, on Danforth Rd, is not worthy of any attention whatsoever.)

                                                1. re: embee
                                                  erly RE: embee Aug 12, 2007 03:24 PM

                                                  I discovered Michael-Angelo's Hwy. 7 and Woodbine this summer.
                                                  They have an excellent selection of Mediterranean products.
                                                  Huge store, with great variety, really nice deli, imported foods, and pasta's.
                                                  Their prepared foods look much better than anything I have seen anywhere in Toronto.
                                                  Fresh egg pasta was a bonus, as it has been almost non-existent in T.O. until now.

                                                  1. re: erly
                                                    itryalot RE: erly Aug 14, 2007 08:02 AM

                                                    I went there once last year and won't go again. Nowhere near the quality and diversity of P.

                                                  2. re: embee
                                                    millygirl RE: embee Aug 12, 2007 03:35 PM

                                                    To clarify, I agree in that it's not a BAD store but it certainly isn't a gourmet store either. I did not. or would not suggest avoiding it all together. In fact I myself continue to shop there for every day items. However the OP was looking for an alternative to Pusateri's, and I would not suggest SV. Sorry, but again, they just aren't in the same league.

                                              3. thenurse RE: itryalot Aug 14, 2007 11:15 AM

                                                Try Garden Foods in Bolton - family owned Italian, with lots of selection (esp. for it's size). Produce is phenomenal. I drop in here often on my way home from Albion Hills in the winter.


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                                                  embee RE: itryalot Aug 14, 2007 11:23 AM

                                                  You might look in on Boncheff Greenhouses. It's in a food-intense area east off Kipling, south of the six points. I can't recall the street name.They have some nice produce and scads of packaged "gourmet" foods. The selection is quite amazing in this little, almost improvised, store. And they are cheaper than almost anyone else. Not on everything in the store, but definitely on most things and often startlingly so.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: embee
                                                    Kagemusha RE: embee Sep 19, 2007 07:13 PM

                                                    Boncheff's on Olivewood, first light s. of the Kipling overpass. They're growing slowly but stock a nice range of goods at discount prices relative to the DT extortionists. You'll see it immediately in the EVOO selection, vinegars, teas, fresh herbs+edible flowers, even food mags at 10%off.The Kipling food zone is full of great joints. Frankly, I don't bother with Pasquale Bros--maybe I'm missing a whole wing or warehouse but I don't find anything about the place remarkable: so-so selection, sleepy staff, high prices. Great Spanish paella pans, though!

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                                                    mindyt RE: itryalot Aug 14, 2007 11:39 AM

                                                    Another place you may want to try is Colangelo Brothers Fruit Mkt at Midland Ave (near 401) in Scarborough. My husband orders Porterhouse steaks from them and they are above the quality of Bruno's. The steaks on display are not as good as the ones they cut for you. He also gets really great fresh sausage of some sort there.

                                                    Whenever I've been there they have a nice selection of cheeses, though I've only had their grated parmesan (as I live really close to Global Cheese, which I love). Again, their grated parmesan is half the price of Bruno's and better quality.

                                                    I've also only viewed the fruits and vegetables, and they do seem fresh, probably worth a try.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: mindyt
                                                      millygirl RE: mindyt Sep 17, 2007 10:30 AM

                                                      I just remembered another place that is worth checking out...La Salumeria on Yonge, just north of Davisville. They have a great deli counter, lots of interesting olive oils, vinegars and pasta's. Really interesting little shop....a real gem! About a year ago the business was sold to new owners and I haven't been in since but I'm pretty sure they have maintained the same level and charm as the previous couple.

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