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Nov 26, 2007 09:06 AM

Mid-range Italian?

I have a lady friend who strongly prefers to go dutch, even if it goes on my card and she tosses me a $20 or something she still feels much better. Therefore I try to find places that aren't too expensive for her (as she's a student). So far I've lucked out at standard places like Golden Thai or even RichTree, places you can spend $75 - $80 and not feel ripped off, decent ambience and eye-candy, food's decent. etc.

How about Italian? Any good places where a shared appetizer, two dishes, two drinks usually = less than $100? We don't need fancy or fusion stuff, just the foundational stuff done REALLY well.


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  1. There are two that I can think of where the value far exceeds the cost. Fusilli at Queen & River and Zucca on Yonge south of Eglinton.

    531 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M5A1V1, CA

    2150 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4S 2A8, CA

    3 Replies
    1. re: Googs

      Zucca offers a great prix fixe menu on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday - $22 per person for a salad, pasta and dessert.
      I definitely recommend Zucca. A search of the board will bring up a recent review I wrote for the meal I enjoyed there.

      1. re: Googs

        Yet another vote for Terroni, and I'd also add Tutti Matti. It's a little pricier, but you can still get out for under $100. That's my vote for best Italian in Toronto.

        Tutti Matti
        364 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V1R7, CA

        1. re: estragon

          Second Tutti Matti.
          Very solid Italian at that price range. There's a 3 course lunch for $15. Excellent value. It's a la carte for dinner.

      2. Serra (on Bloor, west of Spadina, not in little Italy) is a very reliable mid-range spot. Nice atmosphere, good food, good service, very reasonable prices. No reservations, though. And the little table for two right by the door is terrible in the winter.

        2 Replies
        1. re: TorontoJo

          Terroni. Terroni. Terroni.
          I prefer the Queen location but Victoria st. is okay too.

          1. re: pistachio peas

            I second Terroni. Best italian in the city.

        2. Another vote for Terroni.

          Also, The Big Ragu would be fun for date night. It's at St. Clair and Lansdown, so not quite central, but they have good cockail options, authentic Italian and a fun and kinda sexy atmosphere. I think you could do it for under $100.

          I haven't been in a while, but I also have very fond memories of Five Doors North. Small plate menu, so best if you're into sharing. Like Ragu, its a place that's both fun and intimate, won't break the bank, and has that kind of I'll-take-you-to-a-secret-spot feeling that can work well on a date.

          PS - liked your Greek review!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Rabbit

            Thanks for the suggestions guys, I'm thinking Terroni's or Fusilli's for this Friday. I will write a review of wherever I end up going. I'm leaning towards Fusilli's, I pass by that place several times a week heading downtown and I cannot help but think each time what a cozy looking little place that is. Based on the good reviews I'm keen to try it!

          2. -

            2150 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4S 2A8, CA

            1. Sounds like the decision has already been made - and it is a good one - but I just wanted to toss Seven Numbers and Gio Rana's Really, Really Nice Restaurant into the mix. Of the two Seven Numbers locations, I prefer the 306 Danforth. Gio's is a better option if you want a younger vibe or to hang out for drinks pre or post meal...

              Menus are pretty much identical as all of the spots are linked by family, but they have great apps for under $10.00, small pasta courses for under $10.00 and really nice veg sides. Rotating selection of reasonably priced mains also...

              May be a better option of you worry that Fusilli may be too "quiet-date-spot" for what you are looking for...

              Terroni's new location in the old Court House building is also now open and much nicer than their Victoria Street spot.

              7 Replies
              1. re: jgloverwork

                hey is that the place with the big fiberglass nose on the front??

                1. re: jgloverwork

                  I'm not sure what "too quiet date spot" means, but I'm going to disagree anyway. Whenever hubby & I dine at Fusilli we invariably leave with the glow of a very romantic, laid-back, enjoyable evening. I always say we fall more in love each time we go.

                  1. re: Googs

                    Googs, I think that's exactly what jgloverwork was getting at. The OP referred to a "lady friend," not necessarily a date. I have a friend who sometimes likes to take me out for things he knows I can't afford, and a romantic glow is the last thing we are looking for. Not that it's a reason to rule out any place if it's the kind of food we want, but there are some places that are better saved for a different kind of company, and it's good to be forewarned. :)

                    1. re: Wahooty

                      Keep in mind if the two of you want to have any kind of conversation forget 7 Numbers! Do a search and you will see many complaints regarding the noise level. It really is unbearable. I agree Gio's (yes the place with the fibre glass nose) is a good choice if you want something hip and happening. It too can get loud but in a good way. The food is quite good and reasonably priced. Fusilli would be much quieter but equally a good choice. Another spot worth considering is Vittario's at Yonge and Davisville.

                      1. re: millygirl

                        Thanks for clarifying that guys. Yeah I didn't go into much detail but my initial aim was just to find affordable places because it seems dutch is a bit more 'in' these days.

                        But that being said, re: atmosphere, a seriously romantic environment is still cool with me, I mean it can't hurt. A wise man once articulated it like this: "Giggidy Giggidy".

                        So Fusilli is a definite maybe, and since Gio's is even closer and I've ALWAYS wanted to see what this 'nose place' is all about that will be next on my list, this Friday it will probably be one of the two.

                        Thanks for the heads up with regards to 7 Numbers, I find yelling environments a bit limiting at times.

                      2. re: Wahooty

                        That is exactly what I meant. Fusilli is great, but to me it feels like more of a "formal date" spot. Wonderful, romantic - but didn't know if 50firstdates was looking for a "gaze into each other's eyes" type of evening :)

                        1. re: jgloverwork

                          Ah ha the blonde gets it now. He may want to get to 50 2nd dates. Giggidy giggidy gig-gi-dy!