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Reasonably priced Italian restaurant with great food. Ideas?

Lately a number of the Italian restaurants that have been recommended to us as reasonably priced and good have been only so-so. Grano was good one night, disappointing another. The last time we were at Zuca they got our order wrong and the food was only meh, so we haven't been back. This weekend we were at Setto Mezzo; the service was poor and again the food was only so-so at best. We like Gio Rana's, but are looking for some other reasonably priced, not too loud, Italian places with great food. Will travel if necessary so any suggestions much appreciated.

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  1. Try Trio, on Yonge, North of Lawrence for a reasonably priced menu, including excellent wood-oven pizza. Very friendly and laid back.

    6 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      I second Trio, especially for pizzas.
      Also, I haven't tried Vanni's but other chowhounds ate well there.

      1. re: TorontoJo


        3239 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4N2L5, CA

        672 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C1B1, CA

        1. re: TorontoJo

          I also love Trio. Tried it out a month or so ago and everything we ordered was really good. We've been back once since and it's on my permanent rotation now! The pizza was very good (nice whole grain crust and fresh toppings) and while I generally avoid sausage at all cost, their rapini, sausage pasta was SO good. The sausage melted in my mouth. I also had a very good seafood linguine--reminds me why I used to enjoy this dish so much. All the seafood was nicely cooked and nice garlicy tomato sauce (garlic bulbs included). The Trio and rustica salads were also both very good. It's a nice bonus that the prices are so reasonable.

          1. re: Ediblethoughts

            I love that pasta! The bitterness of the rapini is nicely set off by the savoury sausage. Yummy.

            1. re: TorontoJo

              Oh I love pasta with sausage and rapini. Didn't realize that was on their menu.

              1. re: phoenikia

                It's a really simple dish, and I do find they could be a tad more generous with the rapini and sausage, but mostly because I enjoy the two ingredients so much.

        2. What is your budget? Reasonable price varys with everybody. I'd like to know where one can get great without paying for it. It's not great but I like Regina and Grappa.

          1. Marcellos on St Clair West at Dufferin....or Ferro also on St Clair West but at Arlington closer to Bathurst...great choices ....reasonable prices...great food....Miranda

            1 Reply
            1. re: miranda

              Isn't Marcello's on Cllege ? About 600 block?

            2. I've had nothing but good experiences with the lunches at Tutti Matti (a great deal with the $15.00 fixed price menu). I think that they may have recently raised their dinner prices, however:

              Fusilli is also a good little spot - solid homestyle italian, very reasonable prices

              12 Replies
              1. re: jgloverwork

                what about Noce? The last few times i've been there, everything has been stunning...particularly the truffle ravioli. Its pretty affordable, from what i recall...good luck

                1. re: alisonb

                  Really? We definitely have different definitions of "affordable". Noce's apps range from $12 - $18, mains from $24 - $45. They bill themselves as "fine Italian dining", with prices to match accordingly.

                  1. re: alisonb

                    Noce is one of the best Italian restos in T.O., but inexpensive it's not!

                    1. re: alisonb

                      Noce was a big disappointment . the menu for winterlicious sounded fabulous but none of our group of 7 will be returning to try the full menu. our "inexpensive" night out cost us $75 apiece . I did not recieve the correct 1st course that I had ordered and was given the house salad instead. I was never asked if I wanted a second glass of wine ( my first glass was finished during the full hour we waited to be served. etc...The fish was tasty, but the portion was small and was served with about a tablespoon of lentils. I am not a big eater but I needed a bowl of cereal when I got home.

                    2. re: jgloverwork

                      I'll 2nd Fusilli. It's a family run Sicilian restaurant with good wine selections. Very reasonable pricing. Definitely quiet enough to carry on a conversation.

                      1. re: jgloverwork

                        I second Tutti Matti. I've always had a good meal and good service for a a good price.

                        1. re: JennaBean

                          Tutti Matti for lunch is definitely worth it.
                          Its pricier, but had anyone mentioned Il Mulino? Perfect risotto and very good gnocchi.

                        2. re: jgloverwork

                          I've been to Fusilli twice and absolutely cannot recommend it.

                          Other than the pleasant tiny, intimate room (holds about 30) with oldschool red-and-white checkerboard tableclothes, the food on both occasions I've been there has been atrocious. Strong word I know, but really not good at all. The spicy penne with sausage is a plate of standard penne with a boring tomato sauce and some thin rounds of grey sausage. You could purchase the same in the freezer section of any supermarket. A caprese salad consisted of some slices of tasteless tomato, cucumber slices that had been overchilled and as a result the flesh was breaking down around the outside, bocconcini and so many grindings from a peppermill (in the kitchen, not at the table) that the salad had to be sent back. The kicker was being out of the first 2 wines choosen, with one of them being written on the chalkboard as a featured selection. It wasn't like the restaurant was getting slammed and ran out.

                          I realize some other people like this place but it is lightyears away from a decent Italian trattoria in my opinion. If you are looking for well-priced, homemade, inventive and flavourful Italian food I would strongly recommend Zucca.

                          1. re: DrewStar

                            DrewStar, there are 3 things I would like to point out:
                            1) The OP states that they find Zucca "meh" and is looking for alternatives;
                            2) My two favourite Italian restos in Toronto may not make anyone else's Top 10, but FWIW they are Fusilli and Zucca. I mention so you understand on Zucca we agree;
                            3) Fusilli hasn't had the checkerboard tableclothes since August of 2007, so I wonder if the statute of limitations doesn't apply to your review.

                            I'm a regular at Fusilli, dining there about once a month or more. While I don't dispute that you may have encountered an off-night 2 years or more ago, I encourage you to give it another try. My tip is to call first and make sure Giuseppe's in the house before you go.

                            1. re: Googs

                              Thanks for the reply Googs.

                              The first time I went to Fusilli was over 2 years ago, so that must have been with the oldschool Italian tableclothes. I was not impressed with that particular meal.

                              However, I decided to give it another go last summer. That experience was worse -- as mentioned the caprese was a pale imitation of what a caprese should be. I couldn't understand why the tomatoes were hard and tasteless when good local tomatoes were in abundance at that time of year (September). These slices of tomato were bordering on pink-white, like supermarket tomatoes in February. I didn't know why cucumber was on a caprese, but even so it shouldn't have been disintegrating around the edges. The sausage in the penne looked like it had been cut with a laser-scalpel. Very thin and stingy. Being out of one wine on a small list is understandable, being out of another which has been featured on the chalkboard is a bit much. As mentioned the restaurant was pretty quiet that evening.

                              The person cooking spent a lot of time out on the sidewalk smoking with his friends. If that wasn't the chef, the sous-chef or line cook should be able to execute the dishes. I don't believe the customer should have to phone ahead to see if he will end up with a decent meal. This cuisine isn't rocket science. It's all about the ingredients, which I found to be sorely lacking on 2 separate occasions.

                              1. re: DrewStar

                                Ah September. The whole family was away. Giuseppe doesn't smoke so that definitely wasn't him you were looking at. Hopefully he reads CH so he knows what goes on with his staff when the family goes to Sicily. Tsk, tsk.

                                1. re: Googs

                                  I went to Fusilli's tonight and had the seafood pasta and the Ceasar salad. While the salad was rather servicible, crisp pieces of romaine, bland possibly store bought dressing, the pasta was delicious and hearty. They had no tiramisu so a return trip is in order for that.

                        3. I liked the food at Mastro Roberto Trattoria on Weston Road in Woodbridge. Found it to be reasonable, esp. considering the quality. Full of Italians, too.

                          I also love the gnocchi at Da Gianni e Maria Trattoria on St. Clair West- haven't been in a while, but have been meaning to return soon.

                          Da Gianni e Maria
                          794 St Clair Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C1B6, CA

                          Mastro Roberto
                          Woodbridge, ON, Canada

                          1. Someone already mentioned by favourite affordable Italian (and one of my favourite Italian period) in the city Tutti Matti.

                            Another good one is Lil' Baci in Leslieville, tons of freshly made pasta dishes/antipasti available daily that are not on the main menu.


                            1 Reply
                            1. I adore Banfi on Lonsdale in Forest Hill Village. They make you feel like a VIP and the atmosphere is comfortable. It can be a bit crowded and you have to wait (no reservations) but they make you feel welcome by bringing you bruschetta to keep you happy (and wine/drinks if you order).
                              The word I would use to describe Banfi is generous. You can split an appetizer and main course and they plate it for you and don't bat an eye. They're happy to accommodate pretty much anything. They make you fee like a valued regular whenever you go and throw in desserts/coffees/Italian liqueurs at the drop of a hat.

                              And the food is great! Excellent thin crust pizzas. A super caesar salad. I love the calamari (garlic, peppers and greens). Great pastas. I haven't tried everything, but the things I order most (Penne Banfi, Fettucine Rapini, Calamari, Salads, Pizza Coco- are all great, IMHO.).

                              That's my 2 cents worth.

                              Enjoy it if you go, and if you don't, it lowers the chance of a line-up for me!!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: cheapncheerful

                                I had a terrible visit to Banfi. Too crowded, too loud, and the pastas were awful (mine undercooked, hubby's too mushy). I will commend the staff, though. Despite the crush, they found time to be charming and attentive. Perhaps the pizzas are a good bet, we might yet give it another try, just based on the quality of service.

                              2. I second Marcellos on St. Clair Avenue West. A great traditional establishment with phenomenal pizza.
                                I also just recently discovered Mangia et Bevi. It's an unassuming casual restaurant just east of the downtown core just off King St. E. The address is actually a King St. address but the entrance is off Ontario Street. It's a family run resto that seem to do everything well. The menu is succinct and hit all the traditional notes. Good Antipasti platters, great soups, pastas are well portioned and fresh and the pizzas tick all the boxes. Great sauce, well cheesed, great toppings and the dough is spot on and well baked.
                                It's fairly casual and the location and atmosphere seems to lend itself well to the after work crowd. The only slight wobble is the wine selection as it's a little on the small and unimaginative side but prices are reasonable and you are guaranteed a glass that would work with many items on the menu.
                                As well, if you go to the website, they have a 15% off coupon that they're happy to honour.
                                Here's link to the website for more information and the coupon:

                                1. Grappa on College St is always a good bet. No pizzas, but everything else is solid. Some of the prices look a bit high, but when the dish arrives, you'll see why. The cuts of meat look like something out of the Flintstones, and I know I could never finish one of their pastas. Oh, unlike most Toronto restos, they actually do a good risotto!

                                  Don`t pass up the rolatini, a veg appetizer of puff pastry filled with roasted red peppers and cheese with a rose sauce. Also I think they do Toronto`s best carpaccio. No nonsense of filling up the plate with greens, just tenderloin soaked in a tonne of wine/liquor/spices, with shaved parmesan and olive oil.

                                  If pizza is what you're looking for, I would suggest Eden Trattoria on St Clair West, Ferraro on Eglinton West, or Standard Club in Little Italy. All have wood-burning ovens, and a nice, casual atmosphere.

                                  Sorry, I don't know any Italian east of Avenue Rd.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Ginsugirl

                                    I'll assume that, by "affordable", you mean under $100 per couple with wine. In which case, you'll do quite well at the aforementioned Trio, on Yonge St. north of Lawrence Ave., where they do good pizzas and pastas, and salads as well. But to stay under $100, tax and tip included, you'll have to settle for a half-litre of the house wine. The bottles are rather high-priced. If you're prepared to travel a bit farther north than Trio, however, there's Paese, on Bathurst St. just north of Wilson. Though prices have jumped there about 15 per cent recently, Paese doesn't charge corkage on bring-your-own-wine from Sun. to Fri., which can cut the total price considerably. The pizzas aren't quite in the same league as Trio's, but they're tasty nonetheless, as is the Cornish hen, and any fish special (halibut recently was delicious). Salads are also well done. A more wide-ranging menu than Trio's, though the new prices of some of the mains aren't competitive with other similar-quality Italian restos within a short driving distance. Service is smooth, the room well-designed and comfortable, and reasonably quiet. With bring-your-own wine, you should be able to do it for $75-80 a couple, all in, which shakes out as about the same as it'd cost you at Trio. Easy parking either in front or behind Paese, or, if the small lot's crowded - it often is - on the residential street just north of Paese running east off Bathurst.

                                    1. Try Terroni! It is casual, fun, Italian. Everything we had was FANTASTIC. I'm not from TO so I can't comment no the rest but I can say I have eaten a lot of Italian and if my city had a restaurant like Terroni I would be a regular.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jsfoodchat

                                        Overpriced. Long wait. Overcrowded. Tables way too close.