Negroni has been alluded to a few times here (mostly by Rabbit), but I figured maybe it deserves a thread all its own.
I went there for dinner a couple of nights ago when I needed to kill time between work and a show down the street. I sat at the bar, ordered the "house cured tuna plate" and a glass of wine, and just had a very nice light dinner. It was just a simple salad of oil-packed tuna, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, green beans, basil, capers, and dressed very lightly. And honestly, it was far more satisfying than I expected it to be. Clean flavors that complimented each other well without being too salty, too oily, too cloying, too whatever. There was only one occupied table while I was there, and their sandwiches at least smelled amazing when they hit the panini press - no idea how they tasted because I'm not THAT nosy. I'm just happy to have found a place close to work where I can have a nice lunch and maybe a glass of wine at a reasonable price and leave happy - I'll probably be there a fair amount before the summer's over. It's a shame that the back patio isn't licensed, because it looked cozier for lingering with a book than the bar was. Didn't get a chance to try the ice cream yet, but got a prime view of the staff snitching it - might have to try it next time. I'm hoping they do most of their business at lunchtime, because I was in the neighborhood again last night and it was similarly deserted.
All I could think of while I was there was, "wow, this is such a...ME kind of place." :) Solid, simple, tasty...not pretentious, not trying too hard.
Specifics: menu includes a variety of panini and a few salads and other plates. Drinks available are a handful of whites, a larger handful (mittful?) of reds (all Italian) and one cocktail: the namesake. Most things around 10 bucks. Owned by the Sidecar folks.
492 College Street, Toronto, ON M6G 1A4, CA
I do think Negroni is really great... in just the sort of comfortable, warm, and non-pretentious way you describe.
The panini are very tasty with nice quality ciabatta, authentic Italian cheeses and meat (prosciutto, soppressata, fontina, provolone) and special extras like homemade pestos and mayos. The bufula and sundried tomato salad is a really tasty plate, and they do a nice cured meat platter too. The peanut butter ice cream is fab. And you can get a $20 bottle of wine!!!
I'm sorry to hear that it wasn't that busy, and especially since it was the same way on our last visit. I really do hope that people give this place a shot because it really is a delightful cheap-and-cheerful addition to the neighbourhood.
We went there tonight after the Little Italy festival and had a wonderful time! A bottle of wine cost us $20. We were full but split the Segovia sausage panini. It was the perfect balance of flavors. The panini bread was light, airy, and crisp. The sausage had just the right amount of spice. It convinced us to stay for dessert and coffee. We ordered the homemade peanut butter ice cream, which was creamy and a peanut butter lover's dream. J thought it was one of the best ice creams he has had while in Toronto this year. I ordered a decaf cappucino, which was also delicious. The service was above average. We will definitely go back!
Yay! Please do! The last time I was there it was as vacant as ever. Really hoping they do a brisk lunch business, because otherwise I don't see them surviving.
(This post brought to you by Wahooty and her selfish interests, because she will be working nearby for at least the next few months and needs more places like this handy.)
Went here last night - would hate to see this place not survive.
We had a fantastic meal at a great price. These are some of the best panini I've had in Toronto, if not THE best. And when it comes down to it, it's all about the quality of ingredients they are using.
I had the segovia sausage panino, and the SO had the mozzarella/tomato/pesto. We both noted next time we come here we would probably get each other's instead. I really enjoyed the bread and the sundried tomato pesto on mine, but his blew me away. Very simple ingredients, but it's freshness and flavour pleased my discriminating Italian tastebuds. SO also had the peanut butter ice cream (I had a tiny bite, not a fan of peanut butter), and he loved it.
Friendly service, and I also loved the interior - the pews and school chairs are great. Unfortunately we were the only ones for most of the time there. Only one other man came by himself while we were there. Lots of people looked at the menu and walked away, which I might have done too if I hadn't read such great things. I think they will get lots of repeat customers though - I know I am going back!