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Terroni's for a First Date?

b
blitz Jan 1, 2011 07:24 PM

pretty simple question. it's gotta be casual italian and within reasonable walking distance (~20mins) from the eaton centre. budget is fairly tight since i'm a student (thinking $20-30 per person after tax and tip). good architecture and ambiance is a plus. i got a few options but Terroni's seems to be leading the pack. here's my thinking.

1) Terroni's at Adelaide
great architecture. however everyone seems to say the service is horrible, food is mediocre/overpriced, and the whole no substitution thing is a major pain. i'm concerned the service might be a major downer on an otherwise fantastic night. with that being said, there seems to be a giant divide between the haters and lovers of this place.

2) Mercatto at Bay
seems to be very similar to Terroni's, without the negative comments lol. ambiance is definitely not the same. this is the "safe bet" in my books.

3) Guu (the darkhouse)
i think this place has been discussed ad nausea. the vibe and energy is great but if u don't get there early, the wait can be pretty bad.

anyways. hopefully you chowhounders can help me out :) i appreciate any comments/suggestions u guys/gals got. btw these are just the leading candidates, i'm open to anything really but i'm restricted to a weekday (fri-sun not incl).

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Mercatto
15 Toronto Street, Toronto, ON M5C 2E3, CA

Guu
398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

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  1. m
    merlot143 Jan 1, 2011 08:17 PM

    Can't stand the Terroni's on Adelaide. It has a cold, corporate feel to it. I wouldn't go there on a date unless you don't want to see the person again.

    1. d
      dubchild Jan 1, 2011 08:28 PM

      I guess it all depends on how much you order, but last time I ate at Terroni I spent much more than $30. I believe my pizza alone was $17. This was the Queen St location. I had no problem with the food or service. I also recently had the doughnuts and a coffee at the Victoria St location. If memory serves, I spent $15. It's tough to eat at a sit down restaurant for $30 all in. I spent around $50 when we went to Guu. I've never been to Mercatto.

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      Mercatto
      15 Toronto Street, Toronto, ON M5C 2E3, CA

      Guu
      398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA

      1. t
        TexSquared Jan 1, 2011 08:47 PM

        Agree with Merlot143. Go to Terroni if you want it to be your LAST date not the first...

        1. num nums Jan 1, 2011 09:08 PM

          the only place close to your price range and location would be harlem. would you be open to american south comfort food? the richmond location is very intimate and cozy which is perfect for a date. since the portions are quite hearty, if you have 2 mains and share a side dish you'll not only be satisfied, you also should be comfortably within your budget.

          for casual italian, the one place that comes to mind is negroni. the only negative is that it's a bit outside your zone at college west of bathurst. but food-wise, budget and surroundings fit the bill.

          -----
          Harlem
          67 Richmond St E, Toronto, ON M5C1N9, CA

          Negroni
          492 College Street, Toronto, ON M6G 1A4, CA

          5 Replies
          1. re: num nums
            b
            blitz Jan 1, 2011 09:23 PM

            thanks for the input everyone. keep it coming! wow i didn't know Terroni's was that bad...thanks for the heads up.

            harlem is a place i've been meaning to check out. everyone here on chowhound seems to say nothing but good things about it.

            about the budget, it's not set in stone. i wouldn't mind stretching to $70-80 altogether. but then again, it's trying a bit much on a first date no? talk about setting expectations high.

            1. re: blitz
              k
              KitchenVoodoo Jan 1, 2011 11:48 PM

              Agree with other posters - avoid Terroni - it's incredibly loud. And the food is merely ok.
              How about someplace very old and quaint (and quiet) like Jaques Omlettes on Cumberland. You can have a giggle about how old school it is, but they will treat you well, and you won't have to scream to hear each other during dinner.
              Another extremely civilized place, very European in manners, is Chiado, on College West, delightfully calm, great food, wonderful staff. Frank's Kitchen is another place that is less formal yet delivers amazing food - also on College near Clinton.

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              Chiado
              864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

              Frank's Kitchen
              588 College St, Toronto, ON M6G 1B2, CA

              1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                TorontoJo Jan 2, 2011 04:16 AM

                I love Chiado, but you would be hard pressed to get out of there for $75 a person, let alone a couple.

                I think the recommendation for Negroni is spot on -- the menu and wine list are inexpensive enough that you could take the $5 cab ride from the Eaton Centre and still come out within your original budget.

                -----
                Chiado
                864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

                1. re: TorontoJo
                  shekamoo Jan 2, 2011 06:06 AM

                  2nd Negroni

                  1. re: TorontoJo
                    j
                    juno Jan 2, 2011 06:43 AM

                    At my advanced age, I probably shouldn't be advising ANYONE on where to go for a first date. But I can't resist also recommending Negroni, which is where I go when suffering from the shorts. Good, easy-going vibe, charming service, good background soundtrack. Share a starter plate of pickled olives, a $l2-$13 delicious pressed Italian sandwich each (with tasty accompanying salad), $5 glasses of decent red or white house wine - and you're out no more than $45-50 plus tip. Helluva deal. But forget about that $5 cab ride from the Eaton Centre. There are no $5 cab rides left in Toronto, unless you're going just around the corner. From the Eaton Centre to Negroni, on College St. just west of Bathurst, it'll be about $15 (plus tip). Live a little and take the College St. streetcar west instead - it's one of the more entertaining TTC rides in town - and use the saving for maybe a second glass of house wine, or an espresso, at Negroni. It's a great place for dawdling, and the staff seem to encourage it. If I could have a first date on a budget again, that's where I'd have it in Toronto.

                    Chiado? A wonderful spot if you've got $200-$250 per couple to spare (the attached bar is cheaper but also above your budget). The puckish Mr./Ms. KitchenVoodoo is clearly luring you into bankruptcy with that suggestion. Jacques Omelettes is also good, but - when the bill comes - you may be stunned as well, given your limited financial reserves. I don't know Frank's Kitchen. Harlem is kinda fun, good, funky atmosphere, some tasty down-home dishes, lively background music (I thought I recognized Dr. John), laid-back service - and MAYBE within your budget (note: you can bring your own wine for a corkage fee of $15).

                    I vote for Negroni, though.

            2. g
              Gary Jan 2, 2011 07:18 AM

              I agree that the Terroni location on Adelaide has a cold atmosphere. One of their spin-off restaurants nearby on Victoria (La Bettola di Terroni or Osteria Ciceri e Tria) might be better. Both are smaller and warmer while still quite trendy. However, you will be hard pressed to eat well at either for $30 per person; $40 each would be more realistic, $50 minimum if you both want to have a couple drinks.

              You mention you are looking only for casual Italian but then include Guu in your list, so I will assume that requirement is a soft one. If so, I agree with the previous recommendation for Harlem. It's not traditionally "elegant" but it's a cozy restaurant with great food, and it would probably fit in your budget. Since the sides are ordered separate from the mains you can order a few and share.

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              Osteria
              106 Victoria St, Toronto, ON M5C, CA

              1 Reply
              1. re: Gary
                miketoronto Jan 2, 2011 07:35 AM

                Totally agree, go to Bettola or Osteria before Terroni on Adelaide, and they're all in the same area. I've been to Osteria Ciceri e Tria once and it would be good for a date, not too expensive either.

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                Osteria
                106 Victoria St, Toronto, ON M5C, CA

              2. a
                Aardvark Jan 2, 2011 07:49 AM

                It might not be quite what you had in mind but have you ever been to a little place on Elm called Frascati. It's not high on ambience but it is quiet with white tablecloths and very reasonable and it's 5 minutes from the Eaton's Centre. I wouldn't rate it high on the "it place" scale but I think it meets your price and location requirements.

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                Frascati
                13 Elm, Toronto, ON M4W1M9, CA

                1. PoppiYYZ Jan 2, 2011 10:23 AM

                  Forget Terroni's on Adelaide. The atmosphere is like eating in a shopping mall food court AND the bill can run up quickly. Never got out of any of the Terroni's under $80 for two.

                  Guu's good. The atmosphere isn't swank, but the food will be great, the place will be bustling, and the price is right. Go early (or late).

                  1. Breadcrumbs Jan 2, 2011 11:10 AM

                    I'm a big fan of Terroni's, and have no problem with the atmosphere at the Adelaide location. I would not liken it at all to "shopping mall food court" or, describe it as "corporate" as earlier posters have. I've dined there on too many occasions to count and have always been pleased with the quality of the food. That said, it is always busy and can get quite loud during the typical dinner period (from 7pm onwards) so I would not recommend it for a date. I've been for early dinners, lunch, and any time in the afternoon on the weekends and have found a very different atmosphere with far less bustle and plenty of opportunity for good conversations. If you're planning your date during these "off times" I'd highly recommend Terroni. Aside from a reasonable menu (available online if you want to take a look), the building itself is of particular interest from an architectural standpoint and, because of its historical significance. The Adelaide location was originally home to Toronto's main courthouse and, is the site of the City of Toronto's last public hanging. Original cells have been retained in the basement and you are able to view them if you wish.

                    If you do plan to dine from 7pm onwards and need an alternative to Terroni, I'd likely pick Mirto which meets your requirements for architecture and ambience and, has many reasonably priced food options including good pizza and pasta.

                    While Mercatto is ok, its also bright and bustling, not really an ideal date spot IMHO.

                    -----
                    Mercatto
                    15 Toronto Street, Toronto, ON M5C 2E3, CA

                    Mirto
                    25 Toronto St, Toronto, ON M5C2R1, CA

                    1. b
                      bringonthelbs Jan 2, 2011 11:51 AM

                      My vote goes for Mercatto, but the Toronto St location, not Bay St. The Toronto location is just around the corner from Terronis on Adelaide but it has far superior food and fantastic service. No Terroni pretentiousness here. Plus, it's not as noisy and has a much better vibe than their Bay St location.

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                      Mercatto
                      15 Toronto Street, Toronto, ON M5C 2E3, CA

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: bringonthelbs
                        CocoaChanel Jan 3, 2011 02:23 PM

                        I would second this. The Toronto St Mercatto has a warm(er) atmosphere and IMO, the food is much better than Terroni at a better price point. The Adelaide Terroni is also quite cavernous and I find it gets very loud. I also dislike the food and attitude at Terroni

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                        Mercatto
                        15 Toronto Street, Toronto, ON M5C 2E3, CA

                      2. c
                        currycue Jan 2, 2011 04:53 PM

                        If you're willing to forego Italian for atmo, then, for a date, I'd pick the Senator Diner. Cosy booths, old school drinks fountain. Milkshakes. Pretty romantic setting if you ask me. They serve dinner from 5-9.

                        1. a
                          Arcadiaseeker Jan 3, 2011 05:50 AM

                          That Terroni location is loud and kind of like eating in a garage - not romantic at all. I don't even like it for a business lunch - it's a terrible place to connect with people. If Mercatto on Toronto Street serves dinner that could be a great option - it's lovely there. I have been for coffee but it has an intimate vibe. The one on Bay leaves me cold. Negroni might also be nice. I agree Chiado would be way too much try for a first date - keep it casual.

                          -----
                          Chiado
                          864 College Street West, Toronto, ON M6H 1A3, CA

                          Mercatto
                          15 Toronto Street, Toronto, ON M5C 2E3, CA

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Arcadiaseeker
                            b
                            blitz Jan 3, 2011 08:18 AM

                            great debate and discussion goin on here. thanks goes out to everyone for the input! terroni's is definitely out. the fab architecture doesn't seem to outweigh the potential cons (as discussed previously).

                            i think i've narrowed down the choices to mercatto on toronto street, harlem, and negroni. these are all fantastic suggestions btw. i'll post an update later in the week.

                          2. syoung Jan 3, 2011 08:35 AM

                            A short subway ride to west Yorkville area is Fieramosca Trattoria on Prince Arthur & Bedford, a cozy restaurant casual romantic ambiance of southern Italy. Food is decent and prices are in the Terroni range.

                            1. a
                              acd123 Jan 3, 2011 08:42 AM

                              Don't listen to any of the negative posts abiout Terroni below. The fact is, Terroni (the one on Queen W, anyway) serves great pizza. Yes, sometimes, they have more 'tude than I care for, but the pizza is always solid. And my wife and I (and some friends too) like the vibe in there a lot. First date, maybe not, excellent pizza, defintely yes.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: acd123
                                a
                                Arcadiaseeker Jan 3, 2011 11:45 AM

                                acd123, I agree that Terroni has great food and the one on Queen W is fine - but the poster was talking about the one on Adelaide and IMHO it's a pretty tough place to have a conversation and date.

                              2. j
                                JennaBean Jan 3, 2011 11:47 AM

                                Unless you know for sure that your date is not a picky eater avoid Terroni's as there is little room for any type of changes to the menu items - is the person like the pizza - all but the mushrooms - no they will not remove them.

                                I really prefer Mercatto on every level. I like the College street and Toronto street location. A much much better choice in my opinion.

                                -----
                                Mercatto
                                15 Toronto Street, Toronto, ON M5C 2E3, CA

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: JennaBean
                                  d
                                  dubchild Jan 3, 2011 06:33 PM

                                  Whenever Terroni comes up, the no sub policy comes up. Last time I was there they had many choices on their menu, maybe around 50 different items. If my date couldn't find anything on that menu and made a fuss about it, that might be my last date with that person. Can you imagine what it would be like living and cooking for such a person. All the more reason to go to Terroni.

                                  1. re: dubchild
                                    c
                                    CocoTO Jan 3, 2011 06:50 PM

                                    Never been to the Adelaide Terroni, but I have asked for menu items with particular ingredients left off, and they have done so ... only tried this at Queen W and Yonge/Balmoral locations ... never experienced the 'attitude" either ...

                                    1. re: dubchild
                                      j
                                      JennaBean Jan 4, 2011 11:20 AM

                                      I'm not a Terroni's fan in any form. I don't enjoy the food, don't like the bad service and for goodness sake if I was to pay for a diet soda it isn't the end of the work. I don't get it. Terroni's is fast food pretending to be something is surly isn't.

                                      1. re: JennaBean
                                        Herb Jan 4, 2011 11:37 AM

                                        "surly?" "Surely," Shirley!

                                  2. Googs Jan 3, 2011 12:03 PM

                                    Fieramosca han't been good since Edvin left and that's years.

                                    Terroni of any kind is far too uptight for a date of any kind. Nothing reinforces your individuality like a server telling you what you can't have.

                                    There's no way Osteria will make your budget. Overpriced mediocrity when its as elevated as mediocre. Bettola is hardly date atmosphere. Ah the Terroni's. Always thinking of their bottom line and not their clients wishes.

                                    Mercatto Toronto has an okay environment and may work for you,. Certainly better than anything Terroni can offer.

                                    Most overlooked and underrated little Sicilian trat in town is Fusilli on Queen at River. The decor may not be what you want, but that's the only thing missing. The tables are candlelit though. Terrific food especially when you go with the specials. Give Giuseppe your wine budget and let him pick a bottle to pair your dinner with. The service is warm and friendly, attentive without being overly so, and never rushed, While you're at it, let Giuseppe know what your occasion is for extra special attention. He recently made my bff's large birthday dinner and knockout winner. Why oh why do people pick style over substance when there's little gems like this around?

                                    -----
                                    Fusilli
                                    531 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M5A1V1, CA

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Googs
                                      syoung Jan 3, 2011 02:24 PM

                                      "Googs Jan 03, 2011
                                      Fieramosca han't been good since Edvin left and that's years."

                                      I was there a few months ago and they said Edvin came back. But in any case, he managed the front of the house so had no impact on the food as Mario was and is still the owner. I do agree their food quality had gone down at one point but it was good the last time I went and no worse than Terroni and better ambiance for a date, IMHO.

                                      1. re: syoung
                                        Googs Jan 4, 2011 05:56 AM

                                        I first noticed the staggering drop in quality after Edvin left. The 1-2 punch was far too much. I realize there's no correlation between the food and the service, aside from both being bad after his departure. Now that he's back I'm tempted, but I would need to hear some credible reports about the food returning to its former standards. Let's admit it: It was never a top-notch Italian restaurant, but it could deliver could bang for the buck. That's all they need to do. Thanks for letting me know. I had written it off about a year ago,

                                        1. re: Googs
                                          pancake Jan 4, 2011 03:58 PM

                                          Terroni pizza is delicious. I find the adelaide location quite cool and the vibe upbeat. I guess it depends what kind of date you want this to be. Sometimes a cooler, more relaxed and loud atmosphere is what girls like (tends to put less pressure on the date itself - doesn't reem too serious too soon either).

                                          On another note, equally tasty and more cozy and romantic is Cafe Nervosa in Yorkville. Definately more intimate and will allow conversation to flow. For Yorkville the prices are very affordable and the food delicious. Service here is definately better and more flexible then terroni (oh how I wish Terroni would serve diet coke)

                                          -----
                                          Cafe Nervosa
                                          75 Yorkville Ave, Toronto, ON M5R1B8, CA

                                          1. re: pancake
                                            Googs Jan 5, 2011 08:45 AM

                                            The pizza at Fusilli kicks both their butts.

                                    2. b
                                      blitz Jan 5, 2011 09:15 PM

                                      as promised, an update. lovely italian suggestions guys and gals! thanks a bunch to all you chowhounders, i'll most definitely keep in mind all these suggestions. but after much debate and thinking we chose harlem :) negroni's was a close second but due to its location, i had to rule it out. it was a bit too outta the way from the activities i wanted to hit.

                                      so harlem! it was definitely the feel and vibe i was looking for. cozy, dark, romantic, and down to earth comfort food. definitely as advertised by the many reviewers of this place. we started off with the cornbread which was light and fluffy. i had the jambalaya while she had the fried chicken. she seemed to like it a lot (so much so i didn't get a bite). the jambalaya was a solid if not unspectacular choice. i would opt for something else next time and try the mac and cheese that everyone seems to chat about. overall i'd definitely revisit this place and explore the menu a bit more. the entire meal came to about $50 which is the price point i was looking for considering my poor student status.

                                      on a side note. the washrooms were a bit odd. neither male/female washrooms were clearly marked. you wouldn't really be able to tell if u were in the guys or girls due to the absence of any urinals in either. not a big deal since we went at off-peak hours.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: blitz
                                        jlunar Jan 5, 2011 09:37 PM

                                        Thanks for the update! Good to hear that the venue was right. :) Though ... I didn't chime in at all on this one, I was following!

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