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Oct 11, 2011 12:29 PM

Tomasso's on Eastern Avenue

Love, love, love Tomasso's on Eastern Avenue.

The pasta is outstanding. Best manicotti in the city!!

The owners Bambi and Tom are wonderful people. Warm, friendly and funny. It's like being in their kitchen. The atmosphere is relaxed and homey.

Mr. Millygirl loves their pizza and lamb chops and friends have raved about the ossco bucco. Everything is wonderful. Wine list is pretty basic but that's okay. We go for the food!

And just recently they have expanded and opened a market next door selling everything italian - pasta, olive oil, cookies, deserts (leave some for me please!!!) and even produce.

I think I know where I am going for dinner tonight. Just thinking about it is making me hungry.

Oh and I can't forget the fantastic complimentary platter of bruschetta and olives that they welcome you with. Outta this world yummy.

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  1. I find the owners really weird and I'm always uncomfortable when I go in there. For instance, the first time, he actually asked me what I paid for my condo which is around the corner. Who does that?

    I think the food is ok, but I only go when I know it is going to be really busy and they don't have time to try to engage me in conversation. Tooo familiar for my liking to say the least.

    31 Replies
    1. re: JennaBean

      LOL. That sounded like something from Seinfeld.

      1. re: JennaBean

        I'm certain he meant no harm. Some neighbours enjoy discussing real estate. They live in the area and like you say, just wanting to make conversation. Although I can understand how some might find it awkward. But again, they are very warm and friendly - we like that about the place.

        I'm sure they would leave you alone if that is your preference.

        1. re: millygirl

          I think that's just his way of being friendly but I will agree with JennaBean in regards to being overly familiar - we go regularly and quite often he will pull up a chair and sit at our table to chat. Sometimes though he sits there a little longer than we care for!

          That said, the food is consistently fantastic and we have yet to be disappointed. The wait staff is great too, always welcoming, genuinely friendly and attentive. Peter (who I think is 75!) is a hoot - very 'old-school' and charming... and Sarah, who would get my vote for the best server in Toronto - I think she's a mind reader.

          Glad to hear the store is open - will have to check it out.

          1. re: JennaBean

            Ha, yeah, I can see him doing that. I went to get takeout there once and the owner was really chatty as I was the only one there at the time. The takeout was for a meeting I was going to and we got a ton of food for less than $10 a head.

            The place is far from "fancy" and not really in an area where most people would find themselves randomly but if you are in the area and looking for something to eat it is a solid choice (also for takeout).

            1. re: ylsf

              We live close to Tomasso's, and have picked up from there a few times. The antipasti plate is great, and I love the sandwiches.

              1. re: SusanB

                Anyone know what the hours of operation are? Thanks

                1. re: 5andman

                  Going tonight. Already thinking between veal or cheese manicotti. Yum, can't wait.
                  Great article btw. Thanks for posting TG101

                  1. re: millygirl

                    My wife and I were there on Friday. I can't say I'd be rushing back.

                    I had :

                    - a seafood appetiser that was on a bed of mixed greens with many rotting bits on it. It's obvious that they don't wash the mixed greens, but these were beyond serving anyway.

                    - lamps chops that were less than 1 cm thick, looks like they split a regular chop in two.

                    - home fried potatoes served with the lamb chops were very tough, they had to be left over from the food made for lunch.

                    - casear salad had an incredibly bland dressing on it, absolutely no garlic, croutons or anchovy flavour at all.

                    - extremely ordinary wine for $10 /glass

                    - wifes pizza had ham on it that was obviously added after the pizza was cooked!

                    (see attached pic)

                    I'd rather open up a can of sardines and eat at home than pay $80 before tip for what we had.

                    When I go out and pay decent funds for food, I expect real food. We don't eat like that at home.

                    And yes I mentioned the greens. Still on the bill... but I didn't want to bother mentioning the potatoes. They seem like really nice, friendly people but I went to eat some good fresh Italian food, not for conversation.

                    1. re: foodyDudey

                      Sorry to hear you did not enjoy your meal foodyDudey.

                      I'm really surprised about the ceasar salad. We love their dressing and find it really packs a punch. So much so that I bought some to take home last time we were there.

                      The lamb chops are thin - but I like them that way and found them to be very tasty.

                      I agree about the ham on the pizza. We normally go with the basic margherita but a friend had that version and I did not care for it either.

                      Food and religion I'm finding are very personal. I know you are a huge fan of Globe but yet I've had some terrible meals there. I admit too, that atmosphere is a big part of why I like to dine out. Not always but at certain times, Tomasso is just the place for us.

                      1. re: millygirl

                        thin lambchops....there's no way to get them served rare.

                        any lamb that's served more cooked than rare is not lamb in my cooks :)

                        1. re: atomeyes

                          Huh? I find when thin it is easier to grill to rare.

                          1. re: millygirl

                            These were not even grilled. They were consistently brownish inside and out, and I bet they were heated up in a frying pan. I like a bit of char on my meat. I was able to cook some thick lamb chops rare on the inside and slightly charred on the outside last night in a 520 F degree oven, with the broiler on. It only took about 8 minutes. Looks like it was amateur night when we went on Friday. Either that or they thought they could serve us the food that they wouldn't serve the regular customers.

                            It's not easier to grill thin meat rare as it cooks through very quickly.

                            1. re: foodyDudey

                              Isn't this place mostly takeout? I've never spent more than $30 for enough food for two. It's hardly fine dining.

                              1. re: iMarilyn

                                Thay have enough tables that they could seat about 65 people, probably even more. It's not fine dining but when you look at the menu you could easily think that the food could be good, I assumed it was based on the reviews. And I don't expect leftovers from lunch served to me at dinner.

                                Do you want to know how you get to $80 at dinner? Here is the breakdown:

                                - 2 glasses of wine @ $10 each

                                - one seafood antipasto @ $15

                                - one personal pizza @ $14

                                - one lamb dinner @ $22

                                + $9.23 tax >>> 80.23 before tip

                                I can go to Mon Kut Thai at dinner and get a decent meal for 2 plus a beer each for about $50 total.

                                1. re: foodyDudey

                                  I think that he's most busy at lunch so you almost always get what was preped for lunch. I usually just get a sandwich to go - go quickly when it is in my favour. I would DIE if he sat down at my table to chat like he did with TG101.

                                  1. re: JennaBean

                                    Why would you DIE? We talked to Bambi and Peter just before we left and we didn't die. They were really friendly, especially after I told Peter that I worked in Rome for 7 months (sent by my employer at the time) and have eaten at many fine restaurants there. In fact, I hated to have posted about the state of the food we ate, but that was a true account. Tomasso walked around to each table but didn't sit down at any of them.

                                    1. re: foodyDudey

                                      Because my idea of hell is being forced to make small talk with strangers. It is a nightmare scenario for me. I don't like overly friendly people on the whole and when I'm in a position that I'm forced to talk even when I just want to get my sandwich and go, well I'd rather spoon my eyeballs out. I will be pleasant and always say please and thank you but I do not want to have a conversation of any sort.

                                2. re: iMarilyn

                                  He does a huge business in take out and catering to the surrounding offices but it is also dine in.

                                  And yes, the prices are reasonable with good portions.

                                  I don't think anyone is calling it fine dining.

                                  1. re: millygirl

                                    Agreed. The prices, relative to the portions being served, are great. I'm Italian, and I love Tommaso's for exactly the same reasons I love going to eat at my Zia's: the food is delicious and uncomplicated, the way Italian food is supposed to be; the portions are generous; and the hosts are friendly and casual.

                                    I haven't had the lamb, but I suspect the well-cooked and thin chops were a conscious choice rather than a bad day in the kitchen - it's not uncommon for Italians to serve lamb well-cooked (though I agree that it should have some charring, and they shouldn't be dry).

                                    If anything, I think Tommaso would do well to cut his menu down a bit. Their antipasto rustico and formaggi e salumi plates are great and plentiful, they have four pastas that they do extremely well (their cacio e pepe is the best version in Toronto), and the veal scallopini are great.

                                    In the end, it's an authentic trattoria akin to what you'd find in the average small Italian town - a few great dishes are great, a few are just on the menu for the sake of variety, and the wine simple and satisfying.

                                    400 Eastern Ave, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                                3. re: foodyDudey

                                  i can't imagine getting nice grill marks on the chops while leaving the inside nice and pink.
                                  and if "easy" was part of cooking, then all food would taste awful. it takes a small degree of skill to operate a grill so it cooks the food perfectly. cooking lamb to anything above medium is a disaster. might as well eat rubber.

                                  1. re: atomeyes

                                    I agree. I think I was a chef in a former life, so I expect a certain level of quality and competence when I go out to eat. There's no use in spending time and money to eat a dinner that is far worse than what I can whip up at home. But that's just me. I broke one of my main rules when eating out on Friday, and that is to only order what I can't easily make myself.

                                    My first choice for Friday was F'Amelia but I picked this place as it had a few good reviews. I asked about F'Amelia but nobody responded, which is quite typical when I post.

                                    1. re: foodyDudey

                                      foodyDudey, if it's any consolation I took a look around CH for a F'Amelia review I was sure I saw. I couldn't find it so didn't respond.

                                      That pizza sure looks like a warmed over leftover. Was it? You know for a couple of blocks more you can have terrific stone baked pizza at Fusilli at Queen & River. No hot tables. No leftovers. Made when you order as it should be. If you do end up going to F'Amelia, please let us know what you think.

                                      BTW the Tommaso's menu lists the lamb as oven roasted. I'm with you. Please make mine a thick cut and the oven is for finishing, not starting.

                                      531 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M5A1V1, CA

                                      1. re: Googs

                                        Googs I really must try Fusilli's. I've lived at Queen and Broadview now for over five years and I've never ventured in. Maybe tonight is the night!!! :-)

                                        1. re: Googs

                                          Hi Googs,
                                          thanks for your input. I didn't want to snap a pic of the lamb with my phone but it sure didn't look appetising. That's why I had to make some properly roasted medium rare lamb for Sunday's dinner! Mrs fD ordered the pizza, she always seems to order something simple that I can make better at home. Yes the pizza sure looked like a leftover. (I took that picture a day later so that probably didn't help) I plan to go to F'Amelia one of these days soon, we were very close to going there instead on Friday. But I think I have to go for the Fall Truffle menu at Splendido first.

                                          We went to Fusilli about 18 months back after reading about it here, but it was very ordinary that night, probably because the owner was not there? I took another couple with us and we were all underwhelmed.

                                          88 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 1G5, CA

                                          1. re: foodyDudey

                                            Completely agree on Fusilli. First time was okay, second and last time was a complete waste of $$. Food was terrible, and service not much better. Our party of 4 were all terribly disappointed. We would have been better off at The
                                            Spaghetti Factory.

                                            1. re: foodyDudey

                                              That is the key, foodyDudey. Call Fusilli first and make sure Giuseppe is in. I also suggest sticking with the specials of the night. I particularly like it when pork is being offered. Perfectly grilled and quite tender and flavourful. Give him a little guidance as to what you like and let him pick out wine too. He always has some gems in stock that you’d otherwise never know about.

                                              Sorry about your experience millygirl. Sicilian trat style food isn't for everyone. There's nothing fancy to be had.

                          2. re: 5andman

                            bump- does anyone know the hours of operation? Or the closing time?
                            Couldn't find the hours mentioned on the website:

                            1. re: prima

                              They close at 11 pm but I have to wonder why you ask. Why don't you just listen to "the Torture Never Stops" by Frank Zappa?

                              Or are you just wanting to make sure that you really can get leftovers from lunch served at dinner?

                              1. re: foodyDudey

                                thanks foodyDudey. I was thinking that it's another restaurant that's located relatively close to the Distillery District, so it might be an option for post-theatre eats.

                                But I would argue, some things get better with age! ;-)

                                Actually, someone recommended Tommaso's in the hot table thread last spring. I think the hot table runs til around 4? Still haven't gotten around to trying the hot table or dinner service.

                                400 Eastern Ave, Toronto, ON M4M, CA

                                1. re: prima

                                  The prices at Tommaso's are very close to those at F'Amelia, but I highly doubt the food is equivalent.

                                  Case closed! :-)

                    2. Do they offer a really good veal sandwich?

                      1 Reply
                      1. I've been there a couple of times, with very mixed results. First time (take-out lunch) was amazing, i returned for dinner a week or so later and was impressed with both the warm, friendly service and the honest, simple food. I remember the antipasti plate as being outstanding, with items such as dandelion greens and fava beans included with the salamis and cheeses.
                        A returning visit with my father was very disappointing. He is very old school - thinks the pinnacle of Italian food as veal parmigana, which was on the menu, hence the vist. Can't begin to say just how awful it was. The veal had clearly been cooked hours ago, likely for the lunch service, and had been drowned in a tomato sauce that had been scorched in the pan. Nothing worse than burnt marinara! The Parm was mia. We didin't order full covers (apps, mains desserts) nor a bottle of wine, and the service from the older waiter was brusque, bordering on downright rude. The mostly uneaten plates were taken from the table with the comment: Not very hungry tonight, eh?
                        A returning visit for a take out lunch was again outstanding (sausage sandwich and pizza with rapini) so I once more subjected myself to the dinner service.
                        We were four, ordered a couple of antipasti, a bottle of wine, and the pasta special on the advice of Thomaso himself.
                        Anttipasti were satisfactory - the cold meats had been cut a while back and were drying out around the edges, cheese was just a few shards of grano padano and one other of no provenance - something by tre stelle? Pasta, while being cooked jsut right, was cloaked in some sort of gooey bechemel-based sauce with hard boiled eggs. Not very appetizing.
                        Service was pushy - didn't miss an opportunity to sell up Water for the table was not offered until asked for, then a bottle of the imported stuff was practically ordered by the waiter (the same older gent as before) Had to insist on plain ol tap. Same for the wines - glass was turned into a bottle, desserts were forced upon those of us who don't even like desserts etc.
                        All in all, a great spot for lunch, but not going back for anything else!

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: gttahaveit

                          The food is usually fabulous--simple, rustic southern Italian food. The service this past Friday was a big disappointment as we were introducing the food to a friend who had never been there. We had to ask/beg for wine and water several times. Pasta was dry, antipasto looked picked over. Staff complained to us about how full the place was and the owner wandered red eyed from table to table--he was not his usual self. Have been several times, not going back anytime soon.

                          1. re: greatfoodgirl

                            Tried the lasagna recently. The pasta part and the sauce tasted pretty good, but I needed a microscope to find the bits of meat...

                            1. re: ghostdogg

                              Sounds like my experience with the seafood pasta. Clams and shrimp were about as big as the tip of my pinky - and I'm a petite female. I've had better at chains.

                              We had same issues with service as they clearly were understaffed and/or experiencing logistical issues:

                              -Wine arrived for those partaking but those who ordered soft drinks had to wait 20 minutes despite courteous reminders.

                              -After taking our orders, the server discovered nearly 10 minutes later that the antipasto we ordered was unavailable so we asked for a menu to choose another. We then had to wait 15 minutes for a menu to become available as all menus had been distributed to the other tables in the restaurant which was just under half full at this time. Obviously, this further delayed the food timing and we were starving by this point.

                              -We were told the kitchen was backlogged and as a result, dishes would be coming in random order (two of us received the side salads that came with our mains, then our mains, then our antipasto, then the third in our party finally received her main). Keep in mind there was about a 10 minute wait between courses so our friend was waiting nearly an hour before she received any food at all! In the end, the best part about my meal was the Caesar salad thanks to a dressing that was generous in anchovies. My veal scallopini with mushroom sauce was tough and the only flavour note was salt.

                              Although our server was very apologetic and did her best, she was obviously overstretched. Combined with the mediocre food, long wait and other issues above, I don't see myself returning. For reference, I was very recently in southern Italy where I had truly delicious, simple rustic Italian for much less.

                              1. re: LTL

                                You actually went there after the feedback I posted? Well it seems that you at least had a tasty caesar, I didn't even have that. I see from these other reviews that my post told it "as it as". Maybe Millygirl goes to some other Tomassos on Eastern Ave. In the few days after my post, I just got madder and madder thinking about what a rip that place is.

                                1. re: foodyDudey

                                  Unfortunately I didn't have a choice as a friend insisted we try the place. Funnily enough, she loved it and can't wait to go back - without me next time.

                                  1. re: LTL

                                    Some people like mediocrity. I guess she's one of them :-)

                                    What exactly did she love?

                                    1. re: foodyDudey

                                      The Caprese salad; chewy, thin and gamey lamb; and the pungent seafood pasta that was largely devoid of seafood. I went in with an open mind even after reading all the reviews, but unfortunately they did not prove you wrong. Definitely not worth the price nor the trek into that area which is out of the way for me.

                                      1. re: foodyDudey

                                        I assume your discussing the unknown friend and not millygirl. From what I know of millygirl's taste, she enjoys some mighty fine food. I'd guess the owner knows a player when he sees one and affords her a different level of service.

                                        1. re: Googs

                                          No I am not discussing millygirl. I had already thought about that when I posted. I know she likes the high life where food is concerned, and that's why I went to this place.

                                          Maybe I look like a nobody but I can pay for real food, and that is what I expect.

                                          Not brusque service, partially rotten salad in the seafood antipasto, improperly cooked mini lamb chops, strange pizza, and leftovers from lunch. And don't forget the caesar salad with no garlic or anchovies. Yup, they thought I wasn't a "player", that's for sure!

                          2. This is an interesting thread. I haven't been to Tomasso's in a while, but I definitely want to check out the market and the hot table. I've only been for dinner service, and never had a bad meal there, but things may have changed- Tomasso was the chef every time I was there, but at my last visit he was hiring a cook because he was just getting too busy to cook, glad-hand, deal with getting the market ready, etc. I think the place is overrun with people from the film studios most of the day so they both couldn't do it all. With someone else at the kitchen helm, I'm not surprised the food suffered. And yes, he's right out of Central Casting- either you like that or you don't; I don't mind it [and I've gotten some interesting Toronto gossip from him too]. At any rate, they definitely fill a need in that corner of the city; it's a shame if things have gone downhill, because it was solid at one point.

                            1. After reading all these disappointing posts, I'm going to pass on this place for now. It seemed like a good venture, reminscent of SW-Ontario crowd-pleaser Salvatore's Trattoria in (Point Edward) Sarnia, Ontario. If any of you are ever in the area, check that place out as it seems to consistently do what Tomasso's cannot. There are some reviews of Salvatore's on this board somewhere.