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Aug 18, 2008 08:59 PM

Big Ragu is out of business already?

I was told that they are listing their place for rent.

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  1. Depressing. Maybe they're moving to a new location? Last time I was there, Carmen implied they were doing well. You never know, though.

    1. This is very odd. They are always busy. It's a good place. Not without its issues, but generally fairly solid. And busy. It would be very surprising if they went out of business.

      3 Replies
      1. re: magic

        I loved it the first time I went. However the last time I went, which was last summer(2007) already, I found that the food and service were not up to the standard anymore. I was trying to find if I am the only one feeling this way. I actually found this review somewhere on the internet, which I pretty much agreed to. I didn't go back so far..

        1. re: oishiBear

          No, you're not the only went that feels that way. I've voiced the same comments on other threads about The Big Ragu. Generally it is a nice cute place with very sweet and passionate owners. The food is generally pretty good, fresh, and interesting and I love their free shots of limoncello etc to finish off the meal (so nice of them), but I have had a few misses there, for sure. The service and price are its weaknesses, I've felt. While very nice and well-meaning the service is not the most attentive in the world and really really slow. And while not the most expensive restaurant in Toronto it certainly is not the cheapest. The whole casual easygoing vibe the staff lovingly creates isn't really reflected in the final bill, which is slightly steep for what you get I think. In other words there are similar restaurants in this city where the food is better and doesn't cost as much. Overall I like the place, and I know a lot of other people do too. It's always busy. Which is why I am so surprised it is up for sale. Who knows.

          1. re: magic

            Their food is indeed overpriced with their quality and service. The last time I went, I actually brought two friends with me and thought I can bring them to a nice place to hang out and eat. At the end I felt so embarrassed because the service was incredibly slow, it took at least 30 mins until we got the bread which is pretty bad, cold and tasteless. An hour later after we ordered we finally got our main course which had an incredibly small portion. Did I mention the beef was so chewy? One of my friends is a girl who has really small appetite, but she can finished her pasta literally in 5 bites.

            I felt so sorry bringing them there and I would not go back for sure.

      2. Now I'll have to move my planned visit up.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pincus

          Maybe ask someone what is going on there and let us know....

        2. The business is Listed for Sale...and has been since June...but until they get a good Offer or a will be business as usual I'm sure...Miranda

          1 Reply
          1. re: miranda

            Hmm, I wonder why it is for sale.

            They really seemed to do quite well.


          2. NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!! They were like, the NEXT place I was gonna go try!!!!! Everyone's been telling me to go to Big Ragu ... where do I go now????

            10 Replies
            1. re: jennjen18

              Jennjen18...don't waste your time. I finally went to the Big Ragu (it is not too far from my house, and I have also been dying to try it), and I must say that I was dissapointed to say the least. I went with the gf, and was hoping that it would be more that it was.

              We both ordered cocktails to start, the gf had a ragoni" (I think it is one of their own concoctions) and I had a Negroni. Worst Negroni I have ever none, and what was weird that it tasted exactly like the Ragoni the gf had...even though the ingredients were completely different. Did not bode well.

              We ordered a anitpasti to share, Salscicca & Rapini (Sausage and Rapini). It was ok at best. I do enjoy rapini, and the made it with butter and tonnes of galic, and it was quite good, but the sausage...I don't know, just didn't seem to go well, seemed like it was added as an afterthought.

              For our entrees, the gf had one of the specials, which was kind of like their lasagne, but I forget the name. And I had the Veal scallopine special, which was with proscutto and sage in a butter sauce, and comes with roasted potatoes and veggies. However, I was in the mood for a little pasta, so I asked if I could sub the taters and veggies with a side of spaghetti, and requested no tomatoe sauce but just some garlic and a little olive oil.

              The entrees came and I was a little surprized to see the the veal was not in a butter sauce, but it seemed to me, swimming in butter. The taste was ok, but really, that was a lot of butter. The veal itself was not that tender, but it wasn't shoe leather either.

              The gf's meal, wasn't much better. She said that it was ok, but later said that it really wasn't that great. I tried it and had to agree that it was not good. Actually, I found it very sweet, and the pasta was mushy, kind of reminiscent of the olive garden, but not as good.

              The hit of the night, unfortunately, was my side order of spaghetti. Al dente, great garlic flavour without being overpowering, and the added parmasan made it even better.

              We decided to forego dessert.

              The best thing I can say about this place was the service. Annie & Andrea (the 2 wait staff/bartenders taking care of all the tables) were exceptional. Very friendly, well informed of the menu items, and also more than willing to placate picky people like myself, that try to order items not on the menu.

              All in all.not the ambience and service was good, but the food is not worth the visit.

              1. re: Lazar

                So, now that they're gone, where should I go next, Lazar?

                1. re: jennjen18

                  That is a great question, and unfortunately, one I don't have an answer for, as I am still getting used to my new neighbourhood.

                  Thus far, with the exception of Pain Perdu and Boom Cafe. I haven't had a successful dining experience on St. Clair. Although the Rushton was ok, but nothing special.

                  However (just to get back on topic) even though the Big Ragu is for sale, they are still around. I know that I sound like I am back pedalling, but if you really, really, REALLY had your heart set on it, you could always give it a shot. There is a chance that you may disagree with me, as everyone has different opinions on food.

                  Oh, I have heard good things about Zemra Lounge, but it was second hand info, so take that with a grain of salt.

                  If you find anything noteworthy in the hood, please let me know, I am dying to find something.

                  1. re: Lazar

                    Lazar, I think that for great Piemontese cooking with the warmth of a real welcome, a reasonably priced wine list and a Ravioli to die for you can't beat Gianni Maria on St Clair W around Arlington.

                    1. re: Bigtigger


                      I pass by Arlington often enough to bask in the Basque goodies (Pain Perdu), but I have never noticed Gianni Maria, I am assuming that it is on the North side of St. Clair?

                    2. re: Lazar

                      Hmm, I dont know how other Hounds will respond to this, but I liked La Bruschetta in Corso Italia. I went with someone during Summerlicious, and the food was okay.... :) I dont quite remember the details, but I mean, it wasn't bad. I remember reading posts saying how the food there isn't top notch, but to me, it was good for that price when I went (of course, that was Summerlicious pricing).

                      1. re: jennjen18

                        If La Bruschetta is that restaurant that is a block or so East of the Big Ragu with those antique plates on the wall, I have been there too. A disappointment for me, because again, it looked to promise more. But I will say that I liked the food better. The appetizer was Polpetti & polenta (meatballs and polenta) which I was intrigued by, and was quite good. I found the rest of the meal to be just adequate (I can't remember what else I ate, if that any indication). The one thing I was always curious about, was the lighting. When I went, at first I thought it was closed, but they forgot to lock the door, then I saw a couple of people eating by a very dim candlelight. I remember it took my eyes some time to adjust. I also remember thinking it we were there much longer, I am going to turn into one of the mole people, and not be able to withstand the light of day.

                        Actually, Jennjen18, how far is the Junction for you? I went on a walkabout through there, and found some interesting places. Not so much for restaurant, although there were a few that intrigued me. But there are quite a few interesting food shops. For example, The Sweet Potato, and organic grocery and cafe...come to think of it, there were quite a few places that peddled organic wares. There was also Solero bakery, which I thought was Italian or Portuguese, but it turns out it is run by Serbians. The have a big selection of burek, pitas, and the like (which they said that the make, although the packaging seemed too nice for my taste), and I think they also sell cevapi. So if the Junction is not too far, I would say that it is worth the pilgrimmage

                        1. re: Lazar

                          Haha, what's the Junction, Lazar?? ... I'm not quite from the neighbourhood.. I'm at Spadina and Bloor, really. It's just that everyone's been telling me to go to Big Ragu, which happens to be at Lansdowne and St. Clair, Corso Italia... that I'd still wanna try something else than La Bruschetta from there. :-P So, really, anything authentic, homey Italian would do for me, especially if it's nearer to the downtown core.

                          1. re: jennjen18

                            Jennjen18...why do you mock me? In all seriousness, I just assumed you were in the I know what they meant by what happens when you assume....

                            The Junction is the strip of Dundas West from about Keele and westward (again, I am assuming that you are not trying to have me on, feigning no knowledge of the Junction....fool me once...)

                            As far as homey Italian, I honestly haven't had much in the city that I would drool over (that I didn't make better myself), but I did enjoy Terroni & 5 Doors North...although I wouldn't rate them as superfantastic, but definitely better than the Big Ragu (personal preference of course)

                            If you read above, Bigtigger recommended something around west of Dufferin on St.Clair....maybe that would satisfy your cravings

                            1. re: Lazar

                              Teehee, sorry Lazar.. I've always wanted to discover what's there at Corso Italia.. sorry to confuse! But I think I have been to the Junction ... would Royal York and Bloor count? Or is that too far west? .. We've been to an Italian restaurant there too, but it didnt make too much of an impression on me .. I was there meeting a friend, so we were all into talking, not too much there to enjoy food.

                              Thanks for the suggestions.. :)