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Sep 14, 2009 01:07 PM

The best AUTHENTIC Italian in Toronto?

It's my birthday this week and it seems like forever since I had a real Italian meal. Now here I am talking about the real deal, not lasagne, garlic bread and cheap Chianti. Regional cuisine is even more appealing, perchance a litlle Tuscan joint? Maybe a Sicilian trattoria tucked away somewhere? So tell me, where do I find the good stuff?

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  1. Terroni's by far -

    They have 3 locations in Toronto - Queen West, Adelaide and Balmoral. I have been to Queen W and Adelaide locations and both have been amazing. The focus is on Southern Italian Food (Calabrese) and they are truly authentic at that. I took my mom there a few times and it's the only restaurant she will eat at here in Toronto. She is southern Italian and definitely gives it her seal of approval.

    1. Personally I look at Terroni's as fast-food not really a birthday meal - but that may just be my opinion.

      I'd pick one of these places for a special meal:

      Noce - Queen West
      Tutti Matti - Adelaide
      Mistura - Davenport
      Via Allegro – Etobicoke

      9 Replies
      1. re: JennaBean

        JennaBean - Your suggestions are also great but Terroni's is FAR from fast-food. Maybe you should give it another try. In my opinion it's as authentic as it gets. I am sure you have travelled a bit and if you have ever stepped foot into a trattoria in Italy you will find many similarities.

        1. re: cozzetto

          I've been many time (against my will most often) and I just have such a problem with the greater-than-thou mind-set of the whole business. I'm a huge fan of Italian food but I never enjoy my overall experience at Terroni's.

          At the end of the day, the many times I've been there, I've never been blown away by the food. If I had been I may have put up with the approach.

          1. re: JennaBean

            Sorry I missed the most important point - IMO their no sub policy has little to do with the food and much more to do with managing overall food costs and maximizing the number of covers they can do in one night. C'est tout!

            1. re: JennaBean

              All good points and to each there own.

              What are your thoughts on Libretto? I do quite like it and their sausage pizza is amazing.

        2. re: JennaBean

          Second Noce. I like their gnocchi.

          Would also recommend Il Mulino for high-end, traditional Italian, as well as Trattoria da Gianni e Maria. I've often heard Italian spoken by the guests at Trattoria da Gianni e Maria.

          Not that impressed by meals at Terroni. The food can be tasty and the portions are generous, but the food isn't what I would call authentic Italian, even if they don't sprinkle parmesan on their seafood dishes. It's somewhat upscale Canadianized Italian for the masses, if you ask me.

          The pastas at Tutti Matti have been decent in my experience, but the one time I ordered fish, it was inedibly overcooked. Alida Solomon is the chef/owner of Tutti Matti.

          1. re: phoenikia

            Terroni's is far from being Canadianized. As a first generation Canadian and growing up in an Italian home (southern Italian) watching my mom and nonna cook homemade goodness eating some of the dishes served up at Terroni's such as the antipato di funghi, do bring back some memories for me. Italian food is supposed to be simple, rustic, with focus fresh ingredients and natural flavours.

            1. re: cozzetto

              I agree that some Italian food (esp. cucina povera) is "supposed to be simple, rustic, with focus fresh ingredients and natural flavours", but that rule does not apply to all Italian food.

              Food from some cities/regions, such as parts of Emilia Romagna, and Bologna in particular, is not supposed to be simple or rustic, and is far from it.

              The portions at Terroni are large, which for me is an indication of its Canadianization. It would be impossible for most Torontonians to order antipasto, then a pasta off the primi menu, and then a meat off the secondi menu, and eat the amount of food that Terroni would serve.

              1.5-2 cups of pasta a la Terroni (or Grazie, or Marcello's) is not a standard portion size (per person) in most Italian restaurants in Italy, in my experience. I wouldn't be surprised if a 1.5 -2 cup serving is how much pasta is often served in Italian Canadian homes, due to the Canadianization of portion sizes and style of eating, including more complex carbs in relation to vegetables and meat/cheese,etc.. Even Sicilian grandmothers born and raised in Sicily become Canadianized after living here for a while.

              Zucca, Noce, Trattoria da Gianni e Maria, Il Mulino and Tutti Matti serve portion sizes that are more consistent with the Italian restaurants I've visited in Italy.

          2. re: JennaBean

            Terroni has 3 locations and each seem to be different so maybe dissenting opinions are due to experiences from different locations. I was disappointed the last time at the Queen West location but not the Adelaide location. I do understand JennaBean's point that their food tend to be for the masses and prefabricated (don't allow subs) sometimes not unlike the chain restaurants.

            For authentic, try Il Mulino (Forrest Hills) or Romagna Mia (St. Lawrence Mkt). The former is an elegant smallish family run restaurant and the latter is a rather large not very elegant restaurant serving pretty good Emilia-Romagna style Italian cuisine. For Southern Italy, try Fieramosca Trattoria (Yorkville) though I think their food has declined a bit lately, or Sorrento (Yonge/Lawrence) which recently opened and we went once and it was not bad.

            1. re: syoung

              I would hardly say that the food is either prefabricated or for the masses. The fact that they don't allow substitutions doesn't mean things are premade. Everything is made fresh to order. I've said this before... I'm not sure why people confuse a perhaps foolish policy with the quality and value of the food. I think they are two completely different things altogether.

          3. How about Zucca? The menu partakes of different regions of Italy, so for example you could have a Tuscan app followed by a Sicilian main with perhaps a dessert from Piemonte. Even though different Italian regions are represented on the menu, the food is true to the spirit of each region, and Chef Andrew Milne-Allan frequents the farmers' markets (I've seen him at Riverdale on many occasions). I've enjoyed the food there and you can't go wrong in my opinion.

            1. Heh heh, Andrew Milne - Allen? Wouldn't that be a little like ordering Ma Po Dofu from Umar Hussein? Not to be racist or anything...
              I could care less about fancy surroundings. A great evening for me is defined by incredible food. Terroni's sounds like just my cup of grappa. Thanks for the suggestions!

              11 Replies
              1. re: munchieHK

                Don't be so quick to dismiss Zucca. Check the websites and compare the menus.

                1. re: Snarf

                  How right you are, Sir. That certainly is an intriguing menu. I just wonder if you can do justice to such a range of styles. I might be tempted to give it a shot...

                  1. re: munchieHK

                    Just read one of your other posts. You might appreciate the fact that Mr. Milne-Allan is also a Kiwi.

                    1. re: munchieHK

                      munchieHK, if you're seeking traditional Italian cuisine then Zucca isn't it. I refer to it as New World Italian as it incorporates local, seasonal wares rather than strictly Italian ingredients. This is a bold choice made by chef and has great rewards. It would be a shame if you missed it in favour of the balderdash that passes as "authentic" in this city. One rule at Zucca: Don't go on a Sunday.

                      If you're looking for true Sicilian cuisine in a little tucked away spot then get on down to Fusilli at Queen & River. Chef/owner Giuseppe is the soul of Sicily. Fabulous thin crust, stone over pizzas. I'll say it again. It's amongst the best crusts I've tasted in Toronto. Also great is the Fusilli Salmone, Spaghetti Pescatore, and the mussels. My rule with Fusilli: Always make sure Giuseppe is in before going.

                      531 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M5A1V1, CA

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

                      1. re: Googs

                        Googs, I have noticed your posts about Zucca. You seem completely confused about what kind of food it is. Is it Northern? Southern? Authentic?

                        Italian food should always be based on fresh local produce. Wether in Rome, Sicily, Alba or Toronto. That should be part of what makes it Authentic. New world Italian is lasagna and caesar salad and "Fusilli Salmone". Andrew M-A's menu is as authentic Italian as it gets.

                        And I have been on a Sunday and it was excellent. And it was packed with happy eaters. Why shouldn't I return on a Sunday?

                        1. re: KJeats

                          'Authentic' is a bit tricky.

                          I was in Italy and had some fish with potato puree that had ginger in it. That was considered to be somewhat daring. Is that authentic Italian cuisine? It was made by an Italian chef, in an Italian seafood restaurant, and enjoyed by tables of Italians. If a chef in Toronto serves mashed potatoes infused with fresh ginger as a starch under a piece of fish, would it be considered inauthentic and too fusion?

                          1. re: KJeats

                            I'm sorry, KJeats, but what part confuses you? I feel I've been clear. Let me know what I can do to clear this up for you. You're new so I don't mind taking the time.

                            1. re: SMOG

                              I've had poor experiences on a Sunday and note other CH'ers have as well. I don't think any place, no matter how good, can put out the same level of performance 7 days out of 7. The 'A' chef can't be there every night.

                        1. re: munchieHK

                          Trust me, Andrew Milne-Allen is one of if not the best Italian Chefs in Toronto! As far as homemade pasta, he is definately THE BEST.

                          1. re: Crispier Crouton

                            must agree with you on this one. Grano is amazing. Great bread!

                            1. re: cozzetto

                              And divine white chocolate raspberry tart. Haven't been in a while, but hope they still have it.

                              1. re: cozzetto

                                Once, after we finished dinner there, we were standing on the sidewalk in front of their store just chatting before we parted ways. It was the end of the night and Grano was just closing up. Suddenly, a lady (I think she was the owner) came out and handed us four bags, each with a leftover pizza. We were really surprised by their generosity! Took those home, heated them up for lunch the next day. I don't know what they put in those pizzas, but the crust was insanely rich and delicious, probably one of the best pizzas I've ever had.

                                1. re: cozzetto

                                  The last time we went to Grano was a couple of years ago and their pasta was cold and tasteless and service was no better. Haven't been back since. And they have some of the most uncomfortable chairs of any restaurant I've ever been to.