Last weekend Alli and I went to Toronto to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary by eating a lot of good food. Aside from some rain and a poor choice of hotel location, we had a great time. Alli and I made up a list of various cuisines we wanted to eat before we arrived, very similiar to our preparation before our epic NYC trip in April. In our following trips we’ll make an attempt to focus our attention on specific restaurants rather then saying “lets get Bahn Mi”. Regardless, we had some very good meals and we explored Toronto further then just Younge street.
After talking to Alan Bedenko on our podcast and seeing his previous twitter pictures, we knew that we had to visit Pizzeria Libretto for some VPN pizza. The restaurant isn’t very large and when we arrived at 7pm on a Saturday night there was a 45 minute wait for a table, there wasn’t any room at the bar (people were dining there) and we had to wait in a narrow hallway while it poured outside. We luckily got to sit in the back of the restaurant with a great view of the kitchen. The only downside being how hot it was due to the 850 degree wood fire oven that was about 40 feet away from our table. We decided to order their small charcuterie/cheese plate ($28 pictured top, only offered at the Ossington location) that made all the other diners around us stop eating and stare at our table. On the wooden board were all types of cured meats (the duck prosciutto was the best), fresh cheeses (not as impressive but still good) and warm flat bread (delicious with amazing fluffy texture).
Our Margherita pizza soon followed ($13, pictured in gallery) and was fantastic. The tomato sauce was sweet, the cheese was fresh and bubbly and the crust was perfect. It was slightly charred on the outside with a soft chewy texture near the middle. The quality was very close to the VPN pizza we had in NYC at La Pizza Fresca and after we’ve experienced Toronto a little bit more I’d definitely go back for another meal.
On my last visit to Toronto, my brother and I accidentally stumbled across the Kensington Market and fell in love. It reminded me of a more condensed Elmwood Village with several ethnic restaurants, bars and lots of shopping. The first place that Alli and I stopped when we got to Toronto was the market, at this point we were both very hungry and we decided to have a couple bites here and there. Our first stop was a Latin American Food Court, I originally wanted to try Agave & Aguacatte but they were closed so I ordered a couple tacos from Rebozos (pictured above, $9) instead. I ordered two pulled pork and 1 beef tongue, the pork had a very strong flavor and was greasy in a very delicious way. The beef tongue still had a unique texture but wasn’t that special, the toppings for all of the tacos included a little onion, tomato and cilantro. It was a great first meal to start our day off.
We then walked around the corner and found The Grilled Cheese that called us in from the name alone. We walked into a very hip restaurant that wouldn’t be out of place in Portland or Brooklyn. They have a pretty cool menu with clever sandwich combos, but we decided to keep it simple and ordered a regular ole cheddar cheese Grilled Cheese sandwich. It was a great choice; not only was the cheese perfectly melted throughout the sandwich but the bread almost stole the show. The slices were very thick, perfectly crisped and just really really good. After our sandwich Alli noticed a dessert/cafe across the street called Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and I had to go inside, I’ve wanted a dedicated pie shop in Buffalo for years and had to satisfy my pie cravings. Alli ordered her usual Red Velvet Cupcake and wasn’t really impressed, my slice of raspberry rhubarb pie had a strong tart kick and a wonderful flaky crust.
Being in a city with such a large Chinatown filled with so many restaurants, Alli demanded that we find some soup dumplings. After doing some internet research I found out that Asian Legend carried three different varieties and happened to be in an area that we already planned on visiting. Asian Legend is basically a Toronto chain with locations all over the city and new location coming to St. Catherine’s, their menu is gigantic and you can even order off their website for pick up. We ordered their soup dumplings with Pork (pictured above) and their soup dumplings with pork, dried scallops and luffa. The dumpling with scallops/pork/luffa had much more flavor and the luffa added a little extra texture to the pork inside, but both dumplings orders were lacking on actual soup inside the broth. Both Alli and myself like to actually drink the broth from inside the dumpling, for each order it was almost impossible to do. Taste and texture were very good for both though. Whenever Asian Legend opens their St. Catherine’s location, Alli and I will be sure to visit.
One of our last visits was to Nadege Patisserie, a very sleek and modern bakery/cafe located on the busy and eclectic Queens West. We walked into Nadege and immediately were intimidated with a long glass case filled with breads, baked goods, French Macarons and panini sandwiches. After our visit, Sarah Walley had mentioned that when she visited the macarons she purchased had been sitting next to pizza and unfortunately tasted like pizza. Ours were sitting next to a large pile of panini sandwiches (there should be some divider) but looked like they were just put out and luckily didn’t have any funky flavor/odor to them. We ordered their mint julep (very good, like a great junior mint), their salty caramel (sadly missing the salt part), vanilla, rose and another mint flavored macaron. The texture for all 3 were great and the flavor ranged from really good (mint julep) to just alright (the caramel) but I’d still highly recommend ordering Sarah Walley’s macarons locally over anything we tried. The place is very cute and trendy and I wouldn’t mind ordering another baked good and maybe a drink (they serve coffee as well) and taking a break from walking up and down Queens West.
We originally planned on visiting the St. Lawrence Market but we didn’t realize they were closed on Sunday and that put a wrench in our plans (same goes for Banh Mi Boys). However we still had some very nice food experiences, for our next visit I think we’ll be focusing on trying fewer but higher quality restaurants in Toronto. I’d also love to really explore their drinking/cocktail scene, I’ve only done that once before but it was with cheap 19 year olds and we went to some pretty horrible/tourist-y bars. Luckily, I will be in Toronto a couple more times in the coming months and have a few places I’d like to try still in mind.