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Mid-range Italian?

50firstdatesguy Nov 26, 2007 09:06 AM

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.

Thanks

  1. Googs Nov 26, 2007 09:23 AM

    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.
    http://fusilli.ca/
    http://www.zuccatrattoria.com/

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    Fusilli
    531 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M5A1V1, CA

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

    3 Replies
    1. re: Googs
      y
      Yum2MyTum Nov 26, 2007 09:46 AM

      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
        e
        estragon Dec 10, 2007 12:56 PM

        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.

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

        1. re: estragon
          a
          ace123 Dec 10, 2007 02:40 PM

          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. TorontoJo Nov 27, 2007 03:09 PM

        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
          p
          pistachio peas Nov 27, 2007 08:06 PM

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

          1. re: pistachio peas
            p
            paper_bag_princess Nov 28, 2007 03:59 AM

            I second Terroni. Best italian in the city.

        2. Rabbit Dec 10, 2007 06:22 AM

          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
            50firstdatesguy Dec 11, 2007 08:38 AM

            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. JamieK Dec 11, 2007 08:41 AM

            -

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

            1. j
              jgloverwork Dec 11, 2007 09:43 AM

              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... http://www.torontolife.com/guide/rest...

              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
                50firstdatesguy Dec 11, 2007 10:39 AM

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

                1. re: jgloverwork
                  Googs Dec 11, 2007 10:44 AM

                  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
                    Wahooty Dec 11, 2007 10:58 AM

                    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
                      m
                      millygirl Dec 11, 2007 11:34 AM

                      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
                        50firstdatesguy Dec 11, 2007 11:53 AM

                        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
                        j
                        jgloverwork Dec 12, 2007 07:34 AM

                        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
                          Googs Dec 12, 2007 10:25 AM

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

                  2. z
                    zazapower Dec 12, 2007 10:45 AM

                    Hi
                    I would like to add some classics to this list. Although I often eat at my local Terroni's, I am not always thrilled with the experiance. I find most times I have to wait for a table, and the food is standard at a mid to high price. If you have money to splurge, Noce across the street is very good. My favorite Italian in the city is Grano's on Young st. between Davisville and Eglinton. This place makes you feel like you've lucked into one of the coolest restaurants in Rome. The food is habit worthy. The rooms are beautiful and big enough for a large party. I think the owners of Terroni based the plans for their restaurants on Grano's.
                    I'm now going to let out a carefully gaurded family secret. Cammara's on Dufferin N. of Eglinton, S. of Lawrence makes THE BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD!!! They only deliver locally (boo hoo, not to my downtown apt.) but it is definatly worth the trip. My family used to live in the states and my brother would pick up a fresh pie and drive it down during his visits to satisfy our jones. It's that good. The rest of the menu is excellent and definatly comes in at your budget.
                    P.S. The little pre made takeaway food next door at Bologna Pacifica is the best. Anytime I eat next door, I stock up on Lasagne, Manacotti, Sauces, Cookies...etc.
                    All fresh made in the back by sweetie Italian ladies, and perfect for our busy lifestyles.
                    Now I know both of my suggestions are off the beaten track for some, but those who seek out these restaurants will be rewarded with yummy, well priced food and wine.
                    Enjoy!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: zazapower
                      Googs Dec 12, 2007 10:48 AM

                      I used to make the trip to Camarra's for pizza years ago. Is it still that good?

                      1. re: Googs
                        z
                        zazapower Dec 13, 2007 06:44 AM

                        I have been eating there all my life and the quality of the pizza has never changed. If you liked it then, you wont be disappointed. The room is not the most stylish, but you'll have your eyes closed with pleasure anyway...

                      2. re: zazapower
                        p
                        Pincus Dec 12, 2007 01:40 PM

                        Never can resist someone posting about good pizza.

                        http://www.camarra.com/home.html

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                        Camarra
                        2899 Dufferin St, Toronto, ON M6B3S7, CA

                        1. re: Pincus
                          JamieK Dec 12, 2007 02:04 PM

                          ha! and it ain't a secret no more! so much for "carefully guarded", but let's get the spelling right guys - it's one 'm' and two 'r's

                          -----
                          Camarra
                          2899 Dufferin St, Toronto, ON M6B3S7, CA

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