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Where to Find the Best Italian Food in Toronto

Where to Find the Best Italian Food in Toronto

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This is pretty well “mission impossible” – a fool’s errand – trying to pick Toronto’s 10 best Italian restaurants; a city with (arguably) the most Italian restaurants in the world outside of Italy thanks to its massive Italian population.

People are passionate about their neighborhood favorites and many an argument has broken out over who has the best pizza, the best lasagna, the best cappuccino...

Many of the original spots are still operating in the city’s “Little Italy” section of College Street West while other have sprung up over the years in the suburb of Woodbridge as many in the Italian community have moved farther north.

However for those who wish to remain in the urban core, here then (alphabetically) are 10 restaurants that can all take their place on any Best 10 list. Please feel free to argue.

1. Baldini

This little Leslieville favorite has been hosting its regulars for some years; some nights it seems like a private party. Alas, even though it is located on Queen East, not that many non-area residents have discovered the charms and culinary expertise of this spot. Too bad, because the relaxed ambiance, wonderful cuisine and lower-than-expected prices are a real find. Try the Meatball Panini. 1012 Queen Street East.

2. Bar Italia

One of the first and most authentic Italian bar/restaurants in Little Italy is still as popular, and populated, as the day it opened many years ago. Back then, however, the customers were all Italian. Now the young and trendy have taken over. This is the place for authentic Italian food – you can’t go wrong with their spicy meatballs and tomato sauce. Make sure you order extra Italian bread to sop up that sauce. 583 College Street.

3. Café Diplomatico

Another Little Italy café that would make any top 10 list by its 45-year tradition alone. The “Dip” has one of the most popular patios in the city with a clientele ranging from Italian grandfathers (not so many grandmothers) and young, trendy urbanites, all sipping espresso and nibbling from a sampler platter of spicy meats and cheeses. All Italian, of course. 594 College Street.

Fried calamari and shrimp at Café Diplomatico (credit: Café Diplomatico)

4. Casa di Giorgio

This little Beach area family restaurant does a booming business, filling every table on weekend nights as well as hosting a steady stream of take-out orders and lines for pickups. The pizza is thick crust with a wonderful blend of cheese and sauce. Take some time to sit on the Queen Street East porch with traditional checkered tablecloths (across from the Beach Cinema) with a glass of wine and Giorgio’s amazing grilled calamari.1646 Queen Street East.

5. Grano

Longtime regulars from the Forest Hill area, as well are first timers, are greeted like long lost friends by the genial Roberto Martella and his busy, bustling staff. The flavors of Italy are matched by the spectacular artwork of the ancient looking (but not really crumbling) wall designs with Italian movie posters. The restaurant also hosts monthly Italian culture nights, wine demonstrations and “Language and Linguine”, and a combination of language/cooking courses. 2035 Yonge Street.

6. Kit Kat Italian Bar & Grill

This was a desolate and downtrodden area of the city when Al Carbone opened the little narrow, very cool Kit Kat. It has since become known as “restaurant row” – blocks and blocks and blocks of packed restaurants and bars. Al is the original and features his old-world Italian cuisine with some creative 21st century Italian creations. Also conveniently located across the street from the TIFF/Bell Lightbox, a mecca for movie lovers. 297 King Street West.

7. Mangia & Bevi (M&B)

Brother and sister team Federico and Eleanora Caldato have transported their family and village (Treviso) recipes from Northern Italy. Their famous thin crust pizza has gained a city-wide reputation for “the best” in just a few years. Try the proscutto et funghi” – with a fried egg in the middle. Or perhaps their Polippo salad for the seafood lover. This little hidden away location with its warm ambiance and friendly service has earned them an ever-faithful client. 260 Ontario Street.

Grilled chicken from Mangia & Bevi (credit: Facebook/Mangia & Bevi)

8. Pizzeria Libretto

Another spot with legions of culinary devotees addicted to classic pizza (only found in Naples) and platters of pasta and seafood made from secret chef recipes from “the Old Country”. The 900-degree wood-burning oven is their secret weapon in creating pizza fans – as well as Libretto’s insistence on using only the purest ingredients from Italy. 221 Ossington Avenue.

9. Strada 241

The chef/owners converted this old warehouse space in the heart of Chinatown into a spacious and beautifully renovated homage to gracious Italian dining. The restaurant is always popular at lunch hour with stuffed sandwiches and pizza slices to go. Dinner is a much more relaxed affair with pasta and seafood specials. Make a reservation for their excellent Sunday brunch. 241 Spadina Avenue.

10. Terroni Adelaide

This restaurant has devotees who lay claim to their favorite pizza place with a fanatical zeal; try and avoid an argument with them. (Approach with caution!). Their original location in the historic Adelaide Court House is a massively impressive building that complements the pure Southern Italian cuisine. For something special, try the Funghi Assoluli – baked oyster mushrooms, parmiagian cheese, bread crumbs, extra virgin olive oil and arugala. Also located at 1695 Yonge Street, 720 Queen Street East and 802 South Spring Street, Los Angeles. 57 Adelaide Street East.

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9. eat. live. travel. write.

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11. Mary's Happy Belly | Toronto restaurant and event coverage

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12. Gastro World

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13. love thy carrot

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14. ChowHoundGTA | Good Food in Toronto

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16. Halal Foodie

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17. Plant Based Toronto | Toronto's Plant Based Vegan Food & Lifestyle Blog

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18. Edible Toronto | Celebrating Local Food, Season by Season

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19. Abbey's Kitchen

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20. Dealiem

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21. Toronto Food Policy Council

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22. What Food I Made

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23. The cookbook store blog

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24. Good Food Toronto

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25. Foodaholic

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26. Seventh Heaven Event Catering

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32. Blunt Food Review | A BS-free blog of honest food reviews

Toronto, Ontario, Canada About Blog Hi, we are Janice & Joel and we love all things food. BFR is our blog of honest food reviews from Toronto, Canada, and beyond. Since Sep 2015 Blog
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33. Starving Foodie

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Being Erica's Paula Brancati gives tips on Toronto's best Italian food spots

Italian-Canadian actress Paula Brancati certainly knows a thing or two about Italian culture and food AND where to find the best of both in her hometown of Toronto. Best known for her role as BFF Jenny Zalen on Being Erica , we asked Brancati for her best-kept secrets and she happily divulged. From Queen West to Woodbridge, here’s where to go for truly delizioso pasta and ‘za.

SDTC: Where is your favourite place to go for classic spaghetti in Toronto?

Paula: Nove Trattoria at Yonge + St. Clair is an authentic, family-run restaurant. The owners are wonderful and friendly and have created a menu filled with tasty and creative dishes from the homeland. Try Fettuccine Della Nonna (Nonna’s Fettuccine), it is deelish!

SDTC: Where do you find the best ready-made pasta for dinner parties or cozy nights at home?

Paula: I would skip buying ready-made and try cooking it yourself for a cozy stay-in date night! Go for a delicious imported brand – Barilla is a definite go to.

SDTC: Do you have a must-have brand of olive oil?

Paula: I always use Imported Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I’m a fan of Primo.) You can find it at any major grocery store.

SDTC: Italians are known for their large family gatherings. Where in the city would you have yours and why?

Paula: Hands down, Vaticano in Yorkville! Chef/owner Felice Vaca will come around to chat about his shared love of food and tease you with clues about his secret tomato sauce recipe. Enjoy the restaurant’s beautiful patio out front in the summer or reserve their private room in the back for a dinner party. Be sure to try their Melanzane Parmiggiana (Eggplant Parmiggiana) – it’s to die for!

SDTC: Tell us where to find the best slice of pizza in the city.

Paula: I once had a great date reconnecting with a high school crush at “The Big Slice” at Yonge + Gerrard. It’s got a very casual vibe but don’t let that fool you! “The Big Slice” certainly lives up its name with huge slices that are topped with cheesy deliciousness – and for me personally, the eating experience is chalked full of sweet memories!

SDTC: Where do you and your friends go for antipasto and a bottle of wine?

Paula: Terroni on Queen West – there are a few locations around the city but this one is definitely my favourite. Their patio is the perfect place to unwind on a hot Toronto summer night- the Being Erica cast has shared many a glass of vino over delicious antipasti once shooting has wrapped for the day!

SDTC: What about gelato? Are you a fan? Where is THE gelato place in the city?

Paula: Zaza on Bellair, in Yorkville. A cute guy working there served me my espresso the other day and though I was momentarily distracted, I could still appreciate the authenticity of the espresso, not to mention how yummy the gelato was! If ice cream isn’t your thang, skip the gelato and go for traditional Italian canoli – these are an especially popular dessert in Sicily (where my family is from).

SDTC: What is your favourite home-cooked Italian meal?

Paula: My favourite home-cooked Italian meal is simple: fresh tomato sauce with penne. September is what I like to call “sauce season” – the family gets together and makes bushels of tomato sauce to last through the winter and the following spring.

SDTC: Are there any amazing Italian restaurants in the suburbs? We want seriously authentic!

Paula: Mastro Roberto Trattoria in Woodbridge is definitely authentic! To this day, my best friend and I cannot stop talking about their Chitarrine ai Frutti di Mare (Homemade spaghetti in a white wine sauce with clams, mussels, calamari, shrimp, scallops, and king crab legs). I would highly recommend it!

SDTC: Do you have a Sunday night dinner tradition?

Paula: After dinner, cut up fresh peaches from the garden and dip them in homemade red wine! It makes for a yummy dessert. Also, in the winter, roast chestnuts to have alongside your wine. Nonna + co. spend a great deal of time getting the wine for the year just right so it’s only appropriate to sample it with just about everything!

SDTC: Romance! You have a sexy date and want to go for an intimate meal – where do you make reservations?

Paula: Pizza Libretto on Ossington is great for a first date. It’s tucked away in such a cool area of the city, with a lively vibe and arguably the best pizza in the city! Café Nervosa in Yorkville is also a fave – lots of plates to share which breaks the ice and makes for tons of flirty eye contact as you clumsily bump hands, drop your forks, and giggle while tasting your food (or maybe that’s just me?).

SDTC: What do you love most about your heritage?

Paula: I love learning about my family’s history, my roots, and how hard my grandparents worked to build a life for themselves once they immigrated to Canada with their siblings. It is incredibly inspiring. I love visiting Italy whenever possible and immersing myself in its endlessly fascinating, laidback lifestyle – it is a great reminder to slow down, put things in perspective, and take the time to enjoy a meal with friends as often as possible!

Okay, now we are very hungry.

Being Erica airs Mondays on CBC at 9PM.

Italian Cooking and Recipes Magazines

Italians, with their deep love for traditional cooking, are avid readers of food and recipe magazines of all types. The local publishing industry offers a wide range of periodicals, focusing on specific cooking interests, as well as on different levels of expertise. Unfortunately, while Italian cooking is becoming increasingly popular worldwide, foreign cooks who can’t read Italian don’t have as many choices.

The magazines listed in this page are therefore divided in two groups. First there are three English language titles, that discuss Italian cooking in-depth, including a British trade publication meant for Italian restaurant and pizza professionals. Then you will find three more magazines from Italy, chosen among many others as an example of the various types of publications available there.

La Cucina Italiana

This the only cooking magazine from Italy providing a full featured English language edition. Each issue is chock full of recipes that are delicious and unique. Still, the magazine is as much about the Italian people and culture as it is about the food and how to prepare it. Many issues highlight one ingredient that is featured in all the recipes. A digital subscription option is available online.

Published: Seven times a year
By: Quadratum Publishing USA
Editor in chief: Michael Wilson


While this magazine is written for an Australian audience, it has plenty of information for those living elsewhere. It is packed with recipes, tips and reviews of Italian wine and restaurants. Italianicious recommends locations to visit while travelling in Italy. There is also a news section and a calendar of events taking place in both Italy and Australia. A digital edition is available to purchase online.

Published: Every two months
By: Prime Creative Media
Editor in chief: Jane O’Connor

Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food

A trade magazine for owners and managers of Italian style restaurants and pizza parlors, published by PAPA, the Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association, an international organization located in the United Kingdom. The magazine provides feature articles, industry news, reviews of various restaurants, tips and tricks of the trade. It is available in a printed and digital edition.

Published: Every two months
By: PAPA – Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association
Editor in chief: Clare Benfeld

Gambero Rosso

Gambero Rosso, one of the most original Italian cooking magazines, is closely linked to the “Slow Food” movement, with a special focus on sustainable, local and natural food products. While featuring plenty of recipes, it also explores the relationship between Italian cuisine, culture, wine and travel. The magazine is available in a traditional paper format, as well as in a digital and iPad edition.

Published: Monthly
By: Gambero Rosso Holding
Editor in chief: Daniele Cernilli

Sale & Pepe

This mass market magazine prides itself on its gorgeous colour photos. Each issue contains recipes, lessons and reviews. Reading Sale & Pepe gives you an authentic Italian perspective on cooking and culture.

Published: Monthly
By: Arnoldo Mondadori Editore
Editor in chief: Laura Maragliano


Dolcesalato is a magazine for Italian pastry and bakery professionals, with every issue full of recipes, tutorials and industry news. The website is also worth a visit: it features lessons and streamed informational videos.

This YouTube Series Wants You To Admit How You Feel About People In Other Provinces

A new Toronto casting call is looking for Canadians who aren't afraid to share their opinions on people in other provinces and territories.

The YouTube channel Dating Beyond Borders is looking for actors and non-actors alike to star in the series "What Canadians Really Think Of Each Other," in which people from each province and territory will be asked questions about how they perceive their Canadian neighbours.

According to the posting, you need to be personable, fun, comfortable in front of a camera and proud to represent where you're from. This non-union, non-paying role is open to people of any gender and any race who are between 20 and 45 years old.

If you're applying, you have to have grown up in or lived in one of the 13 provinces and territories for an extended period of time but also live in or be able to work in Toronto.

The deadline to apply is May 27 at 12 p.m. but the casting executive producer told Narcity that there are plans to extend that by another week. Anyone who's accepted from the submissions will then audition with a self-tape.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Here are 13 Vegetarian Italian Recipes You Can Try At Home:

1. Caprese Salad with Pesto Sauce

This timeless antipasti is what made me fall in love with Italian cuisine. It's truly a magical combination of flavours, textures and freshness with tomato, mozzarella and basil and either a drizzle of sweet balsamic reduction of pesto (or both). Side note: It even represents the 3 colours of the Italian flag.

A filling vegetarian Italian meal that's so hearty you won't even miss the meat. This Italian casserole layered with parmesan cheese and tomatoes is a fabulous way to serve eggplant, indeed. Serve with a bed of rocket salad and some crispy garlic bread.

3. Panzanella

Ideal for summer, cook up some Panzanella when you're in the mood for a chilled glass of Prosecco and a whole lot of sunshine! It does not follow any particular recipe, so play around with flavours and textures.

4. Mushroom Risotto

The flavors of dried and fresh mushrooms beautifully carry through in this classic Italian risotto, made from plump Arborio rice. If you're in the mood to indulge, stir in some extra parmesan and butter at the end, maybe even a splash of white wine.

5. Bruschetta

6. Four Cheese Pasta

Cheese lovers, rejoice! We bring you a gourmet version of mac n' cheese with parmesan, cheddar, brie and emmental. It's easy to follow and surely doesn't get more cheesy than this. For an extra kick of flavour, you can even sprinkle some rosemary and thyme.

7. Home Style Baked Pasta

You can never go wrong with this hearty, home-style baked pasta recipe, mingled with greens, tangy tomato sauce and cheese galore. Top it off breadcrumbs and bake to perfection.

8. Corn Cannelloni

Here's an all-star recipe featuring paneer and corn with a hint of pepper, baked with a whole lot of cream and cheese. Serve with a tossed salad, crusty garlic bread and dry white wine.

9. Ravioli with Coconut Milk & Lemongrass

Pour a smooth sauce of coconut milk, spring onions and fragrant lemongrass over ravioli stuffed with a mix of greens and go straight to foodie heaven! The coconut milk surprisingly pairs well with ravioli and makes it drool-worthy.

10. Pasta Con Pomodoro e Basilico

Having a rough day? Here's a giant bowl of pasta to solve all your problems. Flavoured with fresh basil, tomato and cloves - it just doesn't get more basic than this. You're in for a treat, we promise.

11. Grilled Vegetable Lasagne

Layers of lasagna sheets, creamy white sauce, crisp veggies and lots of cheese- this wholesome and filling treat is not only healthy but a delight at any time of the day. Brunch, Lunch or dinner this cheesy treat is a show stealer.

12. Grilled Vegetables With Feta Bruschetta

Zucchini, capsicum, feta cheese and spinach leaves, this veggie delight combines classic flavours and takes you on a joy ride of flavours. Make sure the veggies you pick are fresh so that you are able to retain the delicious crunch that comes with it.

13. Green Asparagus Risotto

A soothing and heart-warming combination of rice, cheese and vegetable broth cooked slowly along with white wine. This risotto is the perfect dish to try when you are out of time but are looking for something appetizing.

This risotto is the perfect dish to try when you are out of time.


While “pizza and pasta” are just the tip of the Italian iceberg, there is a reason these two culinary staples are the most beloved exports of the Italian peninsula. Eataly Toronto has teamed up with the experts at Rossopomodoro to bring you traditional Neapolitan pizza. This restaurant also boasts a selection of signature pasta dishes that need no translation.


Modelled after a jovial Italian city square, La Piazza is the place where friends and families gather every day for a variety of Italian bites inspired by the various regions of Italy. Sip on wine for an aperitivo, join us for lunch featuring the Torino-style Pizza al Padellino and snack on local and Italian salumi and formaggi!


La Pescheria features fresh seafood that we responsibly source and sell around the corner at our seafood counter. Every day, we offer a fresh selection of oysters, in addition to the catch of the day served crudo, pan-seared, roasted, and more.

Tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis we do not accept reservations.


Take a trip to the vibrant atmosphere of mid-century Milano without ever leaving Toronto at Trattoria Milano, a new restaurant inspired by Italy’s style capital. Enjoy elevated Milanese dishes and the rich, traditional cuisine of this Northern Italian city, such as the iconic Cotoletta alla Milanese prepared tableside, as well as a complete menu of classic pasta dishes, salads, and more.

Frittelle di Lenticchie

Lentil fritters are street food, the sort of thing one might buy in a friggitoria where they fry things up to order for passers-by. They'll also be a very tasty snack or party food, and will work nicely as antipasti or in a platter of mixed fried foods.

Inside Eataly Toronto, the new 50,000-square-foot location of the long-awaited Italian food emporium

Get your stretchy pants on, Toronto, because it’s finally happening: after three long years of waiting, we’re getting our very own Eataly. On November 13, the brand’s 40th location will open inside the Manulife Centre at Bay and Bloor. The store spans three floors of the building, filling 50,000 square feet with pasta-makers, pizza ovens, a seafood restaurant, an enoteca, 400-plus kinds of cheese, a gelateria, a brewery, a marketplace, a culinary classroom and—coming next month—a morning-to-night Italian-style café serving all kinds of caffeinated and boozy beverages. Nicola Farinetti, the global CEO and son of Eataly founder Oscar Farinetti, gave us a tour of the impressive space before it opens to the public. Here’s a look at what you can expect.

This dining space is devoted to two very important dishes. “We usually put a sign here that says Welcome to Italy, because this is the expectation of people: I’m going to Italy, I want to have pizza and pasta,” says Farinetti:

“Not enough people take pizza seriously, but we do,” says Farinetti. “We take it so seriously that we partnered with a family from Naples, Rossopomodoro, to make our Napoletana pizza.”

“We would suggest that all of our customers try the Margherita Verace pizza. One less topping, more flavour is what we say. It’s so easy to hide bad ingredients by adding one more flavour that overpowers everything. When you go down to only four or five ingredients, then you’ve gotta buy the best. One of our philosophies is that it’s difficult to be simple.”

The same “simple is better” philosophy applies to Eataly’s pasta dishes, including this classic spaghetti pomodoro:

If you like what you eat, you can find everything to make it yourself at home, including house-made pasta:

Pastaio Luca Donofrio ( who has an Instagram account worth checking out ) is skilled in all of Italy’s 400-plus pastas shapes (and maybe a few he made up himself, according to Farinetti):

Every single Eataly location has the same wood-burning oven, shipped over from Spain and built on-site. The bakers here make 1000 loaves a day using Italian organic and stone-ground flour:

The wood-fired oven is in that room to the right:

And here’s some more bread, coming out of a different oven:

Shoppers will find three kinds of pizza at Eataly: Neapolitan (from Naples), pizza alla pala (from Rome) and pizza alla padellino (from Torino). Pictured below is the pizza alla pala. “It’s much crunchier,” says Farinetti. “For that reason, it’s a to-go option in Italy. So that’s why we serve it in the bakery here. You can just grab it and go.”

Not including the house-pulled mozzarella, the formaggi counter stocks up to 600 different types of cheese. Many are Italian, but many are also local:

Check out this wall of $2000 wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano:

This is what one looks like all carved up. They go through one wheel a day, serving it with fancy-pants balsamic vinegar made by Osteria Francescana chef Massimo Bottura):

Depending on what side you approach the pescheria, supplied by local Diana’s Seafood, it’s either a fish counter, a fish restaurant or a raw bar:

Here’s a closer look at some of the product it stocks:

There’s more than just fish:

Check this handsome guy out. (It’s a monkfish):

Here’s the macelleria, or butcher shop. “If you eat bad meat five days a week, you can eat amazing meat three days a week,” says Farinetti. “You spend the same amount of money, you’re gonna feel better because we don’t need that much meat according to our Mediterranean diet, and you respect everything more—the animals, the environment, the supplier.”

There’s a lot of dry-aging that happens here:

These tables here are part of the piazza, or square. “That’s the place you go to in an Italian village before you do anything else,” says Farinetti. “You meet in the square, get a coffee or a glass of wine and then go. So that’s the point here: you arrive, you get a coffee or some wine, and then you can decide what you want to eat, whether it’s in the piazza or at another one of our restaurants in the store.”

This here is Rob Wing, the executive chef of Eataly Toronto:

/>Photo by Renée Suen

There’s also an enoteca, if you want to throw back an aperitivo:

This café is the smaller of Eataly’s two. The grand café will open on the main floor in November:

It’s next to the pastry and chocolate counter, which stocks Venchi products. “This is the best chocolate in the world,” says Farinetti. “I am biased because it comes from a place very close to my house. Some of the finest hazelnuts are grown in the city that I come from. That is why crema gianduja and Nutella were born where we come from. Eat one of these chocolates and the flavour will last in your mouth all the way to Christmas—if you don’t brush your teeth.”

Also in what Farinetti calls the “sweets corridor,” is the gelateria, where gelato is made in-house using milk from Ontario’s own Sheldon Creek Dairy. “Every time we open a new location, we choose milk made at a local dairy, which means we need to rework the recipes every time to suit the products: from the cappuccino to the mozzarella to the gelato.”

Here’s just one section of the mercatto, where you can find all you need to buy in order to replicate Eataly meals at home:

There’s also a section dedicated to olive oil and vinegars:

Christmas is coming, which means the panettone is out:

And here’s the scuola, or school, where you can take all kinds of culinary classes. “We always say that Eataly is about three things: eating, shopping and learning,” says Farinetti. “And this is where you can get to learn a little more. Information leads you to a much better understanding of everything, including food. The more you know, the more you enjoy and appreciate it.”

It’s not quite finished yet, but Indie Ale House’s birroteca occupies Eataly’s lower level. Long before Eataly was even a twinkle in Toronto’s eye, Indie owner Jason Fisher emailed Farinetti to say that when Eataly comes to Toronto, he wants to run the on-site brewery. Five years later, it’s actually happening. The birroteca will function mainly as a grab-and-go retail shop, but the bar will also offer tasting flights and snacks:

Of course there’s Eataly Toronto merch:

Every Eataly location is dedicated to a different value. Eataly Toronto is dedicated to multiculturalism. “Toronto is probably the best at having so many cultures in one city living peacefully together,” says Farinetti. “And just like there is food biodiversity, there is human biodiversity.” Over the last few years, photographer Oliveiro Toscani has captured the faces of more that 85,000 people: