The 5 Hottest Italian Restaurants in Toronto

By Suresh Doss  |  September 2, 2014

Today, Toronto's Italian food scene has come a long way from meatballs and red sauce. Here are five great places to explore regional Italian cuisine.

  • Porzia

    Chef-owner Basilio Pesce made waves when he opened his seasonally focused eatery just over a year ago on Queen West. He wanted to give Nonna's Italian cuisine a modern spin, and he's done that with vibrant, tasty plates of food that present a myriad of flavors that you don't often see together. 

    Must-Try Dish: Porzia's octopus is a must-have; grilled chunks of octopus are tossed with semolina, peanut and apple. Also try the pine-nut gnocchi in tangy puttanesca sauce. 
    Good to Know: Porzia has one of the top cocktail menus in the neighborhood, featuring dozens of housemade bitters and ingredients.
    Neighborhood: Parkdale

    1314 Queen St. W.; 647-342-5776

  • Buca

    Few restaurants in Toronto whisk you away on a culinary journey like Buca. From the subterranean warehouse atmosphere to the countless number of waiters rushing through the dining room with plates of scialatielli, funghi pizza and salumi. 

    Must-Try Dish: Dining at Buca is a multicourse, regional journey. Start with a plate of salumi and formaggi. Then either follow with a plate of the pork-blood pasta with n'duja, or get the lamb loin in a white ragout sauce with sheep's milk ricotta.
    Good to Know: If you're not going for dinner, the stand-up bar is the best place to enjoy a glass of grappa (they have an extensive list) and dessert. 
    Neighborhood: King West

    604 King St. W.; 416-865-1600

  • Enoteca Sociale

    Enoteca Sociale captures the essence of a Roman wine bar. There's a seemingly endless list of wines that complement the seasonally driven menu of pasta, fish and meat. 

    Must-Try Dish: Try the albacore tuna with orange and fennel. The bucatini all'amatriciana is particularly good, topped with thin guanciale. If there's grilled seafood on the menu, order it. 
    Good to Know: Every week the restaurant hosts a 'back door' bakery where housemade breads are sold for $5 a loaf (The rosemary focaccia is particularly good). Also, the best way to find out about specials is through their Instagram account. 
    Neighborhood: Dundas West

    1288 Dundas St. W.; 416-534-1200

  • Campagnolo
    Run by husband-and-wife team Craig Harding and Alexandra Hutchinson, Campagnolo is all about the rustic Italian charm. Classic dishes are given slight twists here and there, but the premise is simple: everything is housemade and seasonally driven.

    Must-Try Dish: The steak is a popular dish, served with grilled treviso radicchio and thyme gremolata. We love the housemade pastas, especially the spaghetti and roasted beet agnolotti.
    Good to Know: The restaurant regularly hosts wine dinners and family-style feasts where regional Italian food is paired with special bottlings.
    Neighborhood: Dundas West

    832 Dundas St. W.; 416-364-4785

  • Maialino Enoteca

    The Italian social dining experience is what Giovanni Sarra and his team do best at this the Parkdale eatery. The pasta is made in house daily, and the wine list is extensive to match the breadth of Sarra's cooking.

    Must-Try Dish: The daily made gnocchi is so good, as is the orecchiette Barese served with housemade sausage and rapini. 
    Good to Know: The restaurant hosts monthly dinners focusing on a different regional Italian cuisine. 
    Neighborhood: Parkdale

    1688 Queen St. W.; 416-551-5251