Forks-trot: A waltz through Toronto’s hidden pasta spots
By Jessica Huras
From a humble, comforting dish of spaghetti and meatballs to a sophisticated lamb shoulder ravioli, pasta is a culinary chameleon that can transform to suit any occasion or mood. If you’re looking for pasta perfection, we’ve got you covered with this list of Toronto’s top hidden gems.
LOCAL KITCHEN AND WINE BAR
1710 Queen St W, https://www.localkitchen.ca
This long-running west end favourite has managed to stay under the radar since opening in 2009 (although we can’t blame Parkdale locals for wanting to keep this cozy neighbourhood spot all to themselves). Chef Fabio Bondi cut his teeth working in Michelin-starred Il Postale restaurant in Umbria, Italy, honing the pasta-making skills that help make Local a stand-out today. Fresh produce, most of which is grown in the restaurant’s garden in King, Ontario, during the warmer months, adds the local element that gives the restaurant its Italy-meets-Toronto vibe. Adding to the ambience are the walls decorated with historic neighbourhood photos.
184 Ossington Ave, https://www.superpoint.ca/
With a name like Superpoint bringing to mind images of perfectly pointed pie slices, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s all about the pizza at this ultra-cool Ossington Strip restaurant. While Superpoint is rightfully well-known for its New York–style pizzas, it’s worth forgoing their skillfully-made slices on your next visit to try their pastas instead. The savoury beef reginette is a stand-out, featuring a classic red sauce, fall-apart beef that’s been braised for eight hours, and chunky reginette pasta noodles. The bonus? You couldn’t ask for a better wine selection to wash it all down: Superpoint’s well-curated list focuses on biodynamic and organic vino.
1111 Queen St E, https://www.ascari.ca/
Ascari’s new King West outpost took downtown by storm in 2019, earning a spot on dozens of “best new restaurant” lists. The news came as no surprise to east enders, however, who have counted the brand’s original location, Ascari Enoteca, among Leslieville’s best lesser-known pasta spots for over seven years. Ascari Enoteca is named for 1950s Formula 1 Italian racer Alberto Ascari, a man who loved food and wine so much he earned the nickname “ciccio”, which means “chubby” in Italian. Ascari Enoteca is a place that certainly would have been after the racer’s heart, offering pastas that are made fresh in house daily (many by hand), and a menu of sippable Old World wines.
ALIMENTARI ITALIAN GROCERY
325 Roncesvalles Ave, http://alimentarito.com/
This charming store in Roncesvalles Village is best known for its excellent selection of Italian groceries. From 12-3 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday, Alimentari also offers rotating dine-in specials featuring their housemade pasta. Owners Christopher (a former pasta-maker at Buca restaurant) and Sarah Terpstra supplied pasta for spots like Ardo and Sanagan’s Meat Locker before opening Alimentari. This hidden gem offers a casual and affordable way to get your midday pasta fix. Grab one of the tables in the rear room for a chance to spot the pasta-making action in the back kitchen.