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Dufferin/Rutherford Rd. Restos?

  • j

A friend of mine - who's not ordinarily a reader of Chowhound, but nevertheless enjoys good eats - has moved recently to the Dufferin St./Rutherford Rd. area, and tells me that he can't seem to find decent restos up there, aside from Dante's (a pizza house just five minutes from his lodgings) and maybe 3,233 decent-enough Middle Eastern joints that offer pretty much the same menu at the same prices. In short, not much choice. I can't advise him. To me, that's foreign country, of which I know nothing. But perhaps some of you are more familiar with the restos up that way. Any tips I can pass on to him on where to eat out, with reasonable satisfaction and not too outrageous a price, within a l5-20-minute drive of Dufferin and Rutherford Rd.?

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  1. There's Chicago Pizza Kitchen at Keele & Major Mackenzie and Southern RUB BBQ at Highway 7 & Pine Valley that have been fairly widely discussed.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jacquilynne

      As I suspected. There's not much up there beyond the tree line in Thornhill. Though both Jacquilynne's suggestions seem worthy of inspection. And, as another recent thread informs me, there's a Mexican joint, La Taquiza, on Rutherford Rd., west of the Dufferin/Rutherford intersection, that might be worth a shot as well. Otherwise, nothing. I will inform my friend accordingly.

      1. re: juno

        I suspect that there's actually a lot of good food up there if you look around for it, but there don't seem to be many people hounding up in that area and thus discovering which of the options are good and which aren't so great.

    2. Red Rooster is supposed to have great portuguese style chicken: http://www.restaurantica.com/on/maple...

      1. Don't be shy about trying some places in Richmond Hill. Fantastic Asian places, Hungarian at Rhapsody, Bob's Fish & Chips, even Three Coins for a greasy spoon, just to name a few. You can't go wrong with quite a few Italian places in Woodbridge. Lago at Eagles Nest Golf Club in Maple is very good.

        You'll never know until you try.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Snively

          I second lago at Eagles Nest. Kind of weird to have dinner at a golf club but for fine dining it's probably the best in the area. Exceptionally deep (and expensive) wine list (the owners do not mess around with their grapes...).

        2. I hesitate to reply because you suggest that your friend actually thinks that Dante's Pizza is good. For a real pizza, suggest Abruzzo Pizza not 10 minutes away. They also have a great Panzo or Veal sandwich.
          I second the Rhapsody recommendation - best Hungarian in the area!
          For great Thai food try Royal Orchard Thai - just a quick hop on the 407 and it still meets your 10 minute criteria.
          Marcellos, Tutto Bene, Cynthia's Chinese, Yang's Sushi, or Tomo. The Old Galley Fish and Chips. Of course there's always Centre Street Deli.

          10 Replies
          1. re: carb_queen

            How could I have doubted the Chowhounders' ability to rise to the occasion? Though some of the suggestions above are beyond my friend's financial means - Cynthia's is a quite stiff jolt - there is enough here worth investigation. He will undoubtedly test-drive Abruzzo Pizza against his beloved nearby Dante's, all pizza buffs being essentially pizza whores, prepared to switch loyalties at a moment's notice. Rhapsody for Hungarian? He'll be right there as soon as he craves a decent schnitzel. I went there once myself, and found it quite creditable if you happen to be up that way. Several other suggestions also intrigued him. Thanks to all, and if you have any other nominations, please feel free to speak up.

            1. re: juno

              I'd disagree with carb queen, as I find Abruzzo's very ordinary. Dante's is far superior. But that's just my opinion. Abruzzo is also primarily a takeout joint, the dine-in area is extremely... uhm, "rustic" :).

              Sofra Grill, right next to Dante's is probably the best middle-eastern restaurant around. Amazing shawarma.

              Also next to Dante's is a breakfast/brunch place that's quite good. It's called Grains.

              There's Grazie, which is the 2nd location from the Yonge/Eg spot, which is alright.

              At Bayview/Major Mac, there's a phenomenal Malaysian place called Restoran Malaysia (lots of praise on this board). No reservations and very busy, but well worth the wait.

              1. re: SMOG

                Lots of places (by the way, Dante's is hugely overpriced...also not sure why your friend loves it so much).

                A few great places I recommend:

                MINE Sushi in Richmond Hill - Yonge St north of Elgin

                Hannah's - Bathurst and Rutherford (not in the Sobey's plaza, the plaza on the other side of the street)

                Sweet Basil (Pan Asian food) - Bayview and Elgin - their lunch specials are the best, as you get a lot for approx. $8 and the food is great. Haven't enjoyed dinner as much though, i think they have a different chef on the evening shift?

                Cora's - Yonge and Elgin area - for breakfast food...some Chowhounders may not like Cora's but I think this location does a great job...I go there regularly with colleagues and no one has complained.

                1. re: Sandybandy

                  Another flurry of resto suggestions, almost all worthy of followup. Sofra and Hannah's when in the mood for Middle Eastern. Grains sounds promising for takeout or a light lunch. Restoran Malaysia, of which I've read but never been - I'll let my friend be the stalking horse. Many others.

                  About Dante's, though. My friend has lured me there twice in the past couple of months, and I didn't find it overpriced at all, at all. It may seem overpriced at first glance, but the portions are huge, and quite tasty for what it is. The mini pizza, for example, the smallest size, goes for about $20 after you've added three or four extra toppings, and it easily serves two, with a couple slices left to take home for breakfast the next morning. The small salads are about $10, but once again it serves two handsomely. Good, chewy crust on the pizza, with quality ingredient toppings, and attractively served. A well-appointed room - infinitely nicer than Dante's previous dreary incarnation off north Yonge St. - cheerful, if a tad unpolished, service by a youngish staff. The only beef I've got is with the wine list, which is, for the most part, hilariously overpriced for a basic Italian menu. But to be fair, there are three bottles on offer at $21 and $22, all decent Niagara VQAs - also available by the glass - so two having pizza, salad and glasses of wine can get out for about $50 plus tip. Seems like good value to me. But I've never ordered the pastas, sandwiches or the main dishes - my theory is to stick with a resto's strengths, in this case the pizza - so perhaps Sandybandy is thinking of these other dishes when he/she finds Dante overpriced.

                  1. re: juno

                    Juno, I agree with you. Yes, a pizza can go for $25, but that's a pizza that easily serves 2-3. Plus, the quality of their toppings is superb and they're extremely generous, to say the least. If you were go to alone and want pizza, you'd leave with a $40 bill for pizza and a salad, but have lotsa leftovers. If you were go with a friend, that same $40 bill would feed two. So when you consider the portions and quality, I think the value is just right.

                    1. re: SMOG

                      Let me make a small correction to my previous epistle: my friend, whose plaintive query triggered this thread, informs me that the small salads at Dante go for $7 (there's even one for $6.50) - not for $10, as I incorrectly recalled. That's $7 for a substantial salad that easily feeds two. The salads aren't particularly complex, but the ingredients are always fresh and the dressing is impressively tasty.

                      As for Dante's pizza quality, which some posters above have denigrated, well, there are a number of other long, long threads on this board on "Who makes the best pizza in the GTA?" and it remains an unanswered query similar to "What is the meaning of life?" In short, there is no unanimity, though it's fun to ponder. To me, Dante puts out a damn good pizza, but next time I get up that way, I'm enough of a pizza whore to want to check out - with my friend now living up there - the recommended Abruzzo Pizza. I'm also advised above Abruzzo's is a somewhat grim dining room, but, for a good pizza, I'm prepared to put up with small inconveniences. So long as it hasn't been cited by the Board of Health.

                      1. re: juno

                        For what it's worth, I used to think Abruzzo was good years ago, but when I lived in RH a couple years ago and I would order it occasionally and it had become pretty mediocre to me. I don't know if the pizza changed or my tastes.

                        Also, haven't had Dante's in a long time, but used to enjoy the Deluxe one. My cousin and I would share a small and still have half a pizza left for leftovers, so while the prices are high, I tend to agree that you get a lot for the money. The pizza was always loaded with goodies. I don't think it's the "best pizza" I've had, but like most foods, there is always room for tasty variations of good, even if it's not the best. And the simple house salad was always tasty.

                        1. re: juno

                          As a first time taster of both Dante's and Abruzzo, I'd be curious to hear the details of your comparison - please be sure to post here when you've had a chance to try Abruzzo! Like Pescatarian, I put Abruzzo in the mediocre category.

                          1. re: SMOG

                            I know many people are Dante's fans - I have just always found them overpriced. I have yet to visit the new location, but it must provide a far nicer dining experience than the last.

                            You are correct - the dining room at Abruzzo's is grim to say the least - but it's really the food that gets me. I must admit - Abruzzo's pizza quality has slipped in the last few years. However, IMHO, still a great buy.....not as great as their veal sandwich....but still great. I should have mentioned earlier - don't bother with the delivery service, it's abysmal.

                            Another place I forgot to mention is Laterna (Yonge & Steeles). It's not terribly close to the dufferin/rutherford area, but is still just a short drive away. I make the drive specifically for their Souvlaki, but I've heard the pizza is delicious.

                            1. re: carb_queen

                              Abruzzo makes a good panzerotti, I will admit that.

                              As for Laterna, the "super souvlaki" pita is great. The pizza is also good, yes, but not as good as Dante's nor Abruzzo. They put a ton of cheese on it, which isn't great. They also have amazing salads.

            2. I live pretty close by and I have to say there's some pretty good eats up here. Grazi's, as mentioned, is a great spot and packed all the time. A little well known secret, since we're all talking pizza, is Pizza Taliano in the Longo's plaza at Jane and Major MacKenzie. (Use to be New York Pizza at Keele and Major Mack -- not to be confused with Chicago Pizza that's there now) Fantastic pizza and pasta's all fresh/made to order. The veal sandwich is huge and not served on the standards "crusty bun" but a fantastic italian square bun. Other good eats, the all you can eat sushi place in the St. Phillips/Price Chopper plaza at Major MacKenzie just west of Keele. Also on Major MacKenzie just west of Keele is Red Rooster - best Portuguese Chicken in the entire GTA, hands down. Panera at Yonge and Rutherford is really great for lunch, and I agree with an earlier reply here - Cora's at Yonge and Elgin is pretty good too. The Thai Chef at Hwy 7 and Times Square is yummy, and although pricey - I've never been dissappointed with Piatto Vecchio at Rutherford and Bathurst. Bon Appetit!!

              1. I just found a little take out place Pizza place called Panago at dufferin and Steeles, It is amazingly clean. It is about a 20 minute drive to Rutherford, they said they delivered south of rutherford...not sure if that meant if you were on the north side if they would deliver. But you can pick up and do call ahead pick up. The Pizza was fantastic and they had too many choices we didn't know what to choose. The Chipotle chicken on a thin crust was what we chose and it was mouth watering.

                1 Reply
                1. re: imhungry12

                  FWIW, Panago isn't so much a little take out place as a recently opened outpost of a massive Western Canadian chain of pizza delivery joints. But it's a reasonably good massive Western Canadian chain of pizza delivery joints, so that helps.

                2. Has he tried Nova Era, a Portuguese bakey/cafe on Keele at Kirby Sdrd (maybe 2 miles n. of Major Mac.)? It's one of a chain mostly in Toronto. A friend brought dessert from there yesterday. I don't know what its proper name is. It looks like a swiss roll but its quite yellow in colour with chocolate cream. The cake is extremely moist with a slight orange flavour. Any moister and it would fall apart. The top is covered in sugar (granulated, almost crunchy, not powdered). Based on its strength I think that I'm going to be indulging again soon, and often. They have a reputation for baking wonderful custard tarts. Apparently they also serve shrimp and cod croquettes. A few of those could make a light lunch or snack. And I love Portuguese corn bread. I plan to stop in for some savouries, a custard tart and a coffee next time.

                  1. Abruzzo is overrated. Their pies are mediocre at best, can't comment about the rest of their food. Their dining room is not "rustic", it's a dump.
                    Cora's is another overrated resto that does not live up to it's hype. Every weekend a line up out the door, for what? Overcooked eggs wrapped in crepes that sit like a lead weights in your gut? Or maybe its the insipid fruit they insist on serving. Whatever it is, their food sucks.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: toukolou

                      I'm delighted to see this thread, which I initiated on behalf of a friend who moved recently to the Dufferin-Rutherford neighborhood and rarely cooks for himself, is - after about five months - still alive, if not exactly kicking. We've tried many of the suggested restos, sometimes together, sometimes separately. Our experiences:

                      Bob's Fish and Chips: wonderful. Done the way fish and chips should be.

                      Grains: good, solid takeout. Or can be enjoyed on a few tables on the premises.

                      Abruzzo Pizza: as someone above suggested, the dining room is grim. That's putting it kindly. It's very grim. Depressing, even. Maybe that affected my view of the pizza. It was average. Not quite mediocre, just average. No match for Dante's. Perhaps the pizza at Abruzzo would taste better if management tarted up the dining area a little. Wow, that is one helluva dreary room. The pizza would doubtless taste better if you just got it to take out, thereby avoiding the room.

                      Sofra Grill: solid. But then, most Middle East/Russian/Israeli restos up that way - and there seem to be dozens of them - are solid, with pretty much the same menu and prices. I suspect they're all served by the same central kitchen in some nearby light-industrial area. None stand out, but all are good enough at the price, perfect for the young families living up that way. Hannah's, in a small plaza off Rutherford Road east of Dufferin, is also pretty good.

                      Centre Street Deli: we already knew about this place. Good deli for those to can't get downtown to Caplansky's.

                      Royal Orchid Thai: a bit far from my friend's abode, and - though quite acceptable - not distinctive enough to necessitate a long drive. I recall this place being in the Entertainment Book at one time. Don't know if it still is, but if it is, I regard it as probably overpriced, as many Entertainment Book restos offering discounts invariably are.

                      Laterna: also too far for my friend to drive to, but a well-known good choice in the Yonge-Steeles neighborhood. The menu touches several ethnic bases, all respectably done. Tables rather close. Folks who get twitchy in crowds probably shouldn't enter.

                      We've yet to try Red Rooster - it's a bit far, but good Portuguese to worth driving for. And Chicago Pizza Kitchen, if only for the beef sandwiches, as another thread on this board advises.. I've already had Chicago-style pizza - in Chicago, of all places - and its style is definitely not to my taste (or waist). Besides, just around the corner from my friend's little hovel is Dante's, which we're eminently happy with.

                      Cora's: I'm with toukolou on this one. Anyone who goes to Cora's for brunch deserves anything that happens to them. Indeed, weekend brunch just about anywhere in and around Toronto is, in my view, the ripoff dining-out event of the decade.

                      Keep the suggestions coming. Surely there are some little-known joints up there in Thornhill that the locals are keeping secret from us interlopers. If you keep mum about them, you may force my friend to start cooking for himself more often. And we can't have that.

                      1. re: juno

                        Red Rooster and Chicago Pizza Kitchen are almost side by side. Went to Red Rooster for the second time recently. I usually just order a chicken sandwich $5.99 b.c. it's lunch time....their portions are huge (chicken combo was $11 or $12 I think). IMO they should have a smaller meal at a lower price for lunch timers who aren't prepared to eat two meals at once.

                        1. re: juno

                          Btw, I'm with you on Dantes. Good solid American (Canadian?)- Italian food with generous portions and a dining room infinitely better than Abruzzos. You'd think Abruzzos, being as busy as they are (no accounting for bad taste), would invest a couple of bucks for some new tables and chairs, maybe a lick of paint. Disgraceful.