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Jun 25, 2003 10:49 AM

Cheap But Tasty Italian

  • j

Hey folks, was just wondering if anybody can recommend any places within the old city that serve up good, unpretentious, and reasonably priced (ie under $15) Italian food. Guess I'm looking for places like where I grew up in the Windsor area, where you could/can stuff yourself silly on simple yet tasty comfort food like pasta and parmagianas(usually family-run). And we're not talking East Side Mario's...:)

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  1. Seven Numbers
    343 Eglinton W
    Toronto, ON M5N1A1
    Phone: (416) 322-5183

    In my opinion, some of the best Italian Toronto has to offer. Reasonably priced (see: cheap), and absolutely delicious. Very authentic. You're made to feel like family.

    I'll gladly take the credit for the blissful evening you're sure to have if you dine here. :)

    3 Replies
    1. re: Chris

      I wholeheartedly agree with this reco. In particular, the pasta is phenomenal - don't miss the lasagna (any lasagna) if it's available. Braised and roasted meat mains tend to be a bit salty, but the accompanying sauces are so good that this is easily forgiven. Salads are strong as well, as is the bread (which is perfect for mopping up sauce). The wine list - well below average in the early days - has been raised to an acceptable level.

      However, I disagree on La Paloma. It may be tops in Toronto, but in my books it doesn't compare with the better gelati available in Italy. Also, the prices charged at La Paloma are nothing short of outrageous.

      1. re: TheColonel

        All of the reviews are bang on. Marcello's and Seven Numbers are the best 2 Italian restaurants for value and food. La Paloma is the best in Toronto (don't eat their food though) and so I never imagined that the gelati in Italy could be all that superior, but Vivoli in Firenze kicked the $#!& out of Paloma, sorry to say....

        1. re: Dan

          Paloma's gelato is the best that I have had on this side of the pond so far. Do note that I have not had gelato in the NYC tristate area. Although La Paloma would not match the best of Italy, I feel that were it located in Italy it wouldn't go out of business any time soon. I have certainly had much worse & more expensive there.

          That said, I was there last week and it did cost around $11 for two. Perhaps not something that belongs in a thread about "cheap but tasty", possibly "tasty and worth it" instead.

    2. Two that I'd recommend are Marcello's and Desserts Plus. Marcello's possibly has the best pizza in the city, in addition to its pasta and other dishes. It's at St Clair and Dufferin. As mentioned in a previous thread, it is pretty close to the best gelateria in the city (La Paloma).

      It's a bit far from the centre of the city, but if you are in the neighbourhood Desserts Plus in in Woodbridge won't dissappoint for the kind of food you want. They are moving sometime soon (or perhaps already have) so you may want to call first.

      Let us know what you find.

      1163 St Clair W
      (416) 656-6159

      Desserts Plus
      Now: 3883 Highway 7 # 6,
      Future: 8611 Weston Rd #6-8
      Tel: 905-856-5194 or (905) 265-1090

      La Paloma Gelateria
      1357 St Clair W
      416 656-2340

      6 Replies
      1. re: mikeb

        I'll echo Mike's suggestion for La Paloma (gelato). It is far and above the best gelato you'll find in Toronto. I'd go so far as to say it's the best you'll find in Canada. Friends that have recently returned from Italy claim it is every bit as good as the authentic gelato they found there.

        Great stuff.

        1. re: Chris

          La Paloma gelato is excellent. No question about it.

          But, has anyone tried Hollywood Gelato on Bayview, south of Eglinton? I think it's as good or better than La Paloma. Especially the chocolate gelato: LP's is light lacking a good dark cocoa bite. Hollywood's "Valrhona" chocolate is dark and very chocolatey.

          Although, when it comes to chocolate gelato, it's hard to beat the one served at Coppi Ristorante on Yonge near Lawrence. Try their chocolate gelato. It's practically black and is superb.

          1. re: Fwagra

            I visited both the Sicilian Gelataria on College and Hollywood Gelato last weekend, and I preferred the gelato on College. Maybe I chose the wrong 3 flavours at Hollywood, but all 3 were too sweet for my taste. I prefer the place on College, but I have yet to compare it to La Paloma.

            1. re: sunnyside

              Which flavours did you try at Hollywood?

              My favorites are chocolate, vanilla, creme carmel, pistachio... oh, forget it, the list is too long.

              1. re: Fwagra

                I tried creme caramel, choc walnut brownie and cookies and creme. I recently had a parfait with carmelized pear and cinnamon macaroon at Celestine on Mt Pleasant which had an an amazing creme caramel flavour...Hollywood's creme caramel couldn't compete with the parfait's caramel flavour. But I will try out some of your other flavour suggestions next time I'm in the neighbourhood.

          2. re: Chris

            Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree about La Paloma, in both locations. My mom and sister insist on going there whenever they visit. Highly recommended when they have it - the fig flavour (friends give me a strange look when I order it...which disappears after a taste :))

        2. f
          Francesco Corsaro

          My suggestion for a modest authentic Italian meal will take you to College Street at Beatrice - Tavola Calda. They have a dedicated following of locals who keep them going strong, and keep them on their toes.

          The mother and son team do a good job with their hot table. Among the selection is a roast chicken leg (served on a bed of rice with a side salad of mixed greens, dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette), veggie-freindly eggplant parmiggiana, and, if memmory serves, a good side order of slightly bitter rappini sauteed in olive oil with garlic.

          I recommend that you stay away from thier pasta dishes - pasta that waits around to be re-heated in hot water is never as good as made-to-order, no matter how vigilant the cook is.

          1. Definitely try Olympic 76 Pizza a half block East of Yonge on Gloucester (north side). Cheese garlic bread to start, spaghetti & meatballs or panzarotti with extra sauce or chicken cacciatore (sp?) and an Upper Canada lager. Large servings and the best I know for the price. Eat inside for air conditioning or out front for the patio experience. Enjoy!