Although it makes a ton of sense to hit downtown Toronto’s Little Italy for the delicious Italian food alone, that’s only part of the neighbourhood’s appeal. Toronto’s Little Italy is historic, simply. Home to the largest Italian community outside of Italy, it also happens to be home to the Italian walk of fame, the only sidewalk section in the world emblazoned with brass stars showcasing the names of famous Italians like Dean Martin, Joe Pantoliano, and Connie Francis. The plaza at Grace and College displays a statue of Johnny Lombardi, who established Canada’s first Italian radio station there in 1966.
The lively stretch along College Street between Bathurst and Ossington is where you’ll see the most evidence of the Italian community’s pride in their heritage, stretching all the way back to the 1920s. Although today Little Italy is much more diverse demographically, the general feel is still very much Italian.
But seriously, back to the mention of delicious food. The neighbourhood is home to ample gnocchi and linguine. The area is packed with trattorias, hip restaurants, cafés, pool halls, and some of the best bars in the city. On weekends especially, the sidewalks buzz with activity. In the summer, locals and visitors alike can be found sipping espresso on outdoor patios. Café Diplomatico is known for its incomparable coffee, epic people watching atmosphere, and an extended patio season, complete with a full covered and heated patio!
Trattoria Giancarlo is said to have the best Italian food in Toronto—no small feat. Located in the heart of Little Italy, this intimate Trattoria is a long time favourite among city diners. Chef Eugenia Barato gets 30+ years of credit for upscale pasta, seafood, lamb, and steak to-die-for.
Riviera Bakery on College offers the best pastries and breads in Little Italy, so the people like to say. It’s the real thing, it’s family-run, and you’ll get impeccable service without fail. Have a cannoli with a side of coffee…you’ll be back for more. A place this popular without so much as a website speaks for itself.