Italians have a long history with Canada, starting with Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot to English speakers), the Venetian explorer who claimed Newfoundland for England in 1497. In the first half of the 20th century, over 100,000 Italians immigrated to Canada, many of whom settled in Toronto and Montreal. Today, Toronto is home to the fourth largest Italian population outside of Italy–and the city has the trattorias, gelaterias, and cafes to prove it.
Whether you’re craving a delicious pizza, mouthwatering spaghetti, or refreshing gelato, there’s no need to envy those living in Italy. The district of restaurants, cafes, and social club scattered along College Street West that make up Little Italy are sure to leave you utterly satisfied. Here are 5 of the best Italian restaurants in Little Italy and downtown Toronto.
1. Trattoria Taverniti
Trattoria Taverniti is hailed as one of the best Italian restaurants in downtown Toronto. With its big arched windows, rough brick walls, and red and white checkered tablecloths, this place looks and feels like an authentic Italian trattoria. With over 20 different pizzas and 17 different pasta dishes, visitors have a hard time choosing what to have for lunch or dinner.
WHERE 591 College St
2. Sotto Voce Wine & Pasta Bar
Patrons of The Voce won’t find pizza on this menu. Instead, you’ll be reading through a short list of traditional Italian comfort foods and wine by the glass. Sip wine on the patio overlooking College and Clinton Streets or take it inside for a relaxed meal. Don’t miss their fried zucchini flowers and the sweet-and-savoury melanzana dolce: grilled eggplant served with brandied pears, parmigiano reggiano, and honey.
WHERE 591 College St
3. La Forchetta
La Forchetta is a cornerstone of Toronto’s Little Italy, with a menu that changes with the season. In summer, you’ll find a variety of fresh fish on the menu while fall and winter is the time for the rich meat and game stews and plates typical of regional Italian cuisine. The pastel walls and dark furnishings make La Forchetta an inviting place for a romantic dinner or a languid meal with fine wine and liqueurs with friends.
WHERE 613 College St
Terroni is the Italian restaurant every Torontonian keeps in his or her back pocket, ready to be pulled out in a pinch. With three locations in downtown Toronto, Terroni Adelaide is housed inside the historic 19th century York County Court House. Delicious oven-baked pizza, perfectly al dente pastas, and hearty primi await you in this grand restaurant. In the summer months, enjoy their garden patio for al fresco dining in the heart of the city.
WHERE 57 Adelaide St E
5. Cafe Diplomatico
Cafe Diplomatico, affectionately known as ‘Cafe Dip’, is an institution among locals. The Dip opened in 1968, and continues to be a family run affair with a bustling patio people wait in line to sit on. The bar-turned-restaurant serves basic Italian fare and drinks, but the terrace–with its perfect sight lines for people watching–is the summertime hotspot to be for any Torontonian.
WHERE 594 College St