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Accessible Italian fare in Toronto

I am expecting a houseguest with a less adventurous palate. Would love to find an Italian restaurant downtown or on the west side with good Italian that offers a great bolognese or even a chicken parmesan. Would love to take him to Local Kitchen or Buca or Enoteca Sociale but unfortunately all of these are probably outside of his comfort zone...any help appreciated!

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  1. Bug Ragu and Marcello's on St Clair West?

    2 Replies
    1. re: MissBingBing

      The Big Ragu is a great idea. It's nothing fancy...homestyle Italian @ its best. I also agree with those who recommended 7 numbers. Food is always great!

      Here is a link to The Big Ragu:

      http://www.thebigragu.com/

      1. re: MissBingBing

        I'll add to the recommendation for Marcello's and also add perhaps Lil Baci (only because people keep recommending it to us - I haven't gone there but other Chowhounds will have)

      2. My parents are really averse to any fancy, upscale, AND adventurous ingredient list on a plate. When we had family come over from the US and the kids wanted Italian, I took the larger group to 5 Doors North. WOW... it was great.

        Food was approachable and same goes for the service. Warm, inviting, ... almost like you're going over to your friends for dinner. Also, they had vegetarian options that wasn't just pasta on a plate (bonus points from the Aunt there). Pasta is freshly made and you can really feel the difference in texture. It was just well executed simple Italian comfort food.

        Another option that I do like (but haven't been in a year or so) is 7 numbers. It's louder than 5 Doors North but it serves great home style Italian food that my old neighbour's Nonna served each day for our lunches. It's not fussy but it's great tasting (albeit, it's a bit heavy on the olive oil for me). I do find 7 Numbers pretty cramped though.

        And there's the much talked about Terroni... I know people don't love it on here. For those who are not adventurous but want lots of choices including pizza, this isn't a bad bet. Service can be a bit pretentious (I've had both good and bad service here). I find'younger' groups prefer Terroni over 5 doors even though 5 doors has better food imo.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Nevy

          Five Doors... North?
          http://www.fivedoorsnorth.com/

          If so, I love them. Great neighbourhood resto. Was there as recently as last month.

          1. re: jlunar

            Yes lol... Five Doors NORTH. Sorry, this is why you don't multi-task writing replies with reading real estate DOWNward pricing trends.

            I'm glad to hear they're still great. I went late fall last year and it made for a great impression on me and my family.

        2. I think we'll try The Big Ragu for this one (and maybe look into their "Big Night" parties for another time) but excited about some of these other offerings on my own time. Many thanks to all for the recommendations!

          1. I would take your houseguest to Scarpetta at Wellington W and Bathurst for their signature homemade spaghetti with tomato and basil. If not that, I'm sure there are lots of options on the menu for your friend. Check out their website. The room looks amazing too.

            2 Replies
            1. re: toboggan3

              Unless it's improved vastly (do check!), I wouldn't recommend the spaghetti at Scarpetta. I found it mushy and not worth the cost. Mind, I went over a year ago now. I just haven't brought myself to go back.

              Campagnolo would be my first pick if it's about pasta, but I think Five Doors North fits better.

              Terroni would work (no substitutions), but it's on the trendier (vs comfy).

              There's also Lil Baci (& Lil Baci Taverna) which are also good & safe choices. Went to Taverna last week. Thought it okay; dishes were decent, prices were good. Especially good value on the (tasty) steak (meat comes from the butcher down the street from them).

              1. re: toboggan3

                Too much scene over substance IMO and not at all what I would consider accessible.

              2. You could go casual Italian at a place like Strada on Spadina.