What to buy at Pusateri's?
- Lissar Jun 18, 2003 06:47 PM
So, if I were to spend a bit of my small food budget at Pusateri's, what items are the best and most interesting? I've been a couple of times, but I'm both poor and don't recognise most of the brand names. What do they have that's the best deal for the money? Any advice welcome. Thanks.
I regularly shop at Pusateri's for all my grocery needs, and first off, I have to tell you that there are no "good deals" there. Period. What you go there for is the freshest, most unique, prestigious produce/meat/seafood/brands available in Toronto.
If you give me a dollar amount of what you want to spend, I can get really specific on exactly what you should purchase. But, just as a general rule, the very best things to purchase there if you only have a few funds are the meats and produce. Meats because they are always of impeccable quality whether marinated or not, and the produce because it's the freshest available. You say you've been there already, so you know that perusing through the produce section can yield you fruits and vegetables that you just can't find in regular supermarkets. But, all that exclusivity and freshness does have a price.
The thing with Pusateri's is that it's a convenience for the rich and gourmets all in one spot. By that I mean that you can get absolutely everything they sell in specialty shops around the city, but you might spend a day or two driving around getting it whereas you can just go to that market and find everything all at once. For example, Mike's fish market is the exclusive supplier of seafood to Pusateri's and Mike's is also down at St. Lawrence market - often the prices at St. Lawrence are cheaper than Pusateri's for the same stuff. Want great desserts? Everything supplied to Pusateri's in their desserts section comes from some other bakery ie. Dufflets, Wandas Pie In the Sky, etc. etc.
Here's my suggestion: don't just walk in there and say you'll buy just a few things. Cause it won't happen and if you do that, you'll end up leaving there with $20 worth of gourmet mushrooms and a $24 bottle of great Tuscan olive oil.
Have a plan. Think of a special meal you want to cook, draft up an ingredient list and go to Pusateri's for the "main" stuff like the meat, produce, etc. Leave the butter, milk, jam, etc. for Loblaws, Longos, etc. If you do that, you'll leave there with spending much less money than if you didn't have a plan, and you'll also most likely have a fantastic, memorable meal.
PS. If you like pork, try their marinated porchetta. Cook, covered, on low heat for at least 3 hours and you'll have the best pork roast of your life.
Well, I could answer the question what to by FOR Pusi's. How about a bigger and more easily accessable parking lot? Or a turn light to lessen the traffic nightmare that Lawrence & Avenue become on weekends?
Seriously though, Vincero's post has Pusateri's covered perfectly. You won't save any money there and you can find everything they have somewhere else, but you won't find everything they have at the same somewhere else. It's also a brutal place to avoid an impulse buy, although, it doesn't mean that without discipline you won't walk out with a lot more than you intended.
My suggestions--they have US Prime beef there, so that's something to try grilling at home. If you can get over the cost and the fact that buying them demonstrates that you feeling really lazy, their pre-made scallopped potatoes are actually quite good.
OK, that's out of the way. Does anyone have the scoop on the new location that was to open up at Yorkville & Bay? The sign said coming this spring, & well, spring is ending. I asked a cashier at Pusateri's last month, and they said, "oh yes it is opening". Looking at the corner at Bay and Yorkville, it sure doesn't appear that way. I've emailed them and received no response. I suppose I should just get off my duff and call them.
I too was looking forward to the Yorkville opening. I noticed that the windows are now covered with an opaque material - making it look like the place has been permanently mothballed. They reportedly bailed on Hazelton Lanes a few years ago after doing their due diligence (Whole Foods subsequently took that space). Hope they didn't bail on this location also.
I love the 12-year-old Balsamic vingear ($25-30 per bottle). It looks like motor oil and tastes like heaven. (OK, it's not the $250/bottle stuff, but it's the closest thing I've found for that price).
Well, I agree - the meat is excellent, the range of products impressive and the service usually most helpful and friendly. The selection of cheese is good, the pre-made roast beef sandwiches well stuffed and the desserts and pastries cover a wide range of tastes and well-known bakeries; the various chicken salads (Opra's and curried) are well seasoned though dear.
That said, the biggest disappointment to me is Pusateri's overpriced and under-flavoured ready-to-eat food. The lasagne is fair, fresh though not exciting; but the chicken/veal parmigan is a disgrace: bland and covered with gloppy sauce and soggy breading - you can find better at many local steam tables; the scallopped potatoes are similarly under-seasoned and plain dull; the meatballs are, well, meatballs - you can make as good or better in 10 mins in your kitchen. And so it goes.
For my money, general better quality (because the selection is less) is found at roughly the same (high) prices at "the Five Thieves" on Yonge Street in Rosedale (Only the Best, Oliffe's and the other brother stores...)