Toronto’s Italian restaurant scene is a robust one—not surprising since the city is home to Canada’s largest Italian population.
A modern Mediterranean stunner on the Harbourfront recently scooped up a MICHELIN star. A plant-forward spot in Dundas West proves that great Italian fare doesn’t require meat. At a glamorous restaurant in Yorkville, top-notch crudo and limoncello cocktails draw consistent crowds.
Sample la dolce vita at one of these standout restaurants. Read on for a guide to Toronto’s 12 best Italian restaurants to book now.
Enoteca Sociale (Dundas West)
Enoteca Sociale emanates the kind of intimate vibes that turn first-time diners into devoted regulars. Every corner of the restaurant’s rustic-chic dining room is charming, but the best perch is at the four-seat chef’s bar where chef Kyle Rindinella serves a multi-course tasting menu. The restaurant has focused on Roman fare since opening in 2010 and it was a neighbourhood favourite long before it received a MICHELIN Bib Gourmand in 2022. People return for mainstays such as creamy spaghetti cacio e pepe and bucatini all’amatriciana, plus knockout entrees including a 50-day dry-aged ribeye.
TOCA- Ritz Carlton (Financial District)
The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto’s refined restaurant TOCA marries locally sourced ingredients with classic Italian flavours. Acclaimed chef Oliver Glowig curated a menu that showcases housemade pasta, seafood, and cheeses from an impressive onsite cheese cave. That one-of-a-kind feature is set behind a glass wall in the centre of TOCA’s grand dining room and can be admired by diners as they tuck into signature dishes such as housemade ravioli stuffed with Caciotta cheese and porchetta that’s slow-roasted for 36 hours. Keep an eye out for celebratory brunch buffets, which are often available on special occasions such as Easter.
Terroni Queen (Queen West)
Toronto’s iconic Gruppo Terroni recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and the success of a mini-empire that includes multiple Italian restaurants, bakeries, and commissary kitchens. Terroni Queen, however, is where it all began in 1992. The lengthy pizza list is filled with classics such as the Margherita plus more innovative offerings including the Smendozzata topped with housemade spicy sausage, red onions, and gorgonzola. The Queen Street outpost is always buzzing, much like its siblings Terroni Price, which caters to the midtown crowd, and Terroni Adelaide, set in a former courthouse dating back to the 19th century.
Amano Trattoria (King East)
Amano Trattoria stands out for its modern approach to traditional trattoria fare. Case in point: the pinsa selection. The Roman-style pizza (made with fermented sourdough that has a crisp and airy crust) comes piled with toppings such as spicy salami, hot honey, prosciutto, and Parmigiano. Amano keeps things fresh with a regular line-up of events and specials, including a four-course set menu on Tuesdays and Italian American family-style feasts on Sundays.
Gia (Dundas West)
Gia doubles down on restaurateur Jennifer Coburn’s theory that great Italian cuisine doesn’t require meat. Coburn’s previous spot, Ufficio, was all about pescetarian plates but Gia prioritises plant-forward fare. Expect inventive starters such as beet tartare and panko-crusted okra crab cakes before moving on to housemade pastas including porcini agnolotti with Romano cheese. The pretty plating matches the restaurant’s gorgeous walnut bar and stylish herringbone floors. Round out your meal with a glass from the biodynamic, sustainable, and organic wine list.
Don Alfonso 1890 (Harbourfront)
With its enthralling harbour views and artful plates, Don Alfonso 1890 is a go-to for a swanky night out. The restaurant scoops up consistent awards for its dramatic interiors and exceptional menu (which takes cues from its mothership in Campania, Italy) such as a coveted MICHELIN star in the guide’s inaugural Toronto edition. Exquisite entrees include organic Manitoba bison tenderloin and crab-stuffed ravioli. Also of note: the restaurant’s two epic wine cellars which collectively house over 2,000 bottles.
Il Covo (Little Italy)
Il Covo stays true to its name—Italian for “the hideout”—with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it entrance sign and moody interiors. The intimate Little Italy spot forgoes usual suspects for creative dishes that draw inspiration from all over Italy. High-quality ingredients shine in chef Ryan Campbell’s butternut squash risotto and seared black cod carbonara. Pair the food with a seasonal cocktail or a glass from the thoughtful wine selection.
Sofia is as glamorous as they come, decked with red velvet benches, glittering chandeliers, and mirrored columns. Dining here is not just about the food thanks to perks such as weekly live music performances and walls featuring a rotating collection of art (the latter is available for sale). Kick off your evening with cocktails starring Italian ingredients such as limoncello and amaro. And don’t skip a starter from the killer crudo menu, such as oysters served with white balsamic mignonette and raw ahi tuna with bergamot.
Oretta (King West)
Oretta puts a distinctly King West spin on Italian cuisine. That means trendy takes on staples such as cavatelli alla vodka and salsiccia pizza topped with fior di latte and pork sausage. Tuck into it all in an Art Deco-style space adorned with theatrical arches (the restaurant’s newer midtown location is equally eye-catching). Cocktails don’t stray too far from Italian classics, though there are a few playful riffs on the negroni. Oretta’s family-style tasting menu is an ideal starting point for first-timers looking to sample the restaurant’s greatest hits.
Pizzeria Libretto (Ossington)
Pizzeria Libretto’s original Ossington location was among the first restaurants to introduce certified Neapolitan pizza to Toronto when it opened in 2008. Fifteen years and four additional locations later— including a newish outpost at Yonge and Sheppard—the restaurant is still filled with diners who can’t get enough of its 72-hour fermented sourdough base, treated to a special char in an ultra high-temp oven (bonus points for vegan and gluten-free alternatives). Antipasti such as buttermilk-fried calamari and burrata with pomegranate vinaigrette make for satisfying starters.
Bar Vendetta (Dundas West)
Restaurateur Jen Agg’s flare for curating hip, laid-back vibes is in top form at Bar Vendetta. With its 1970s-inspired decor and lively ambiance, the restaurant attracts as many diners in search of drinks and snacks as those looking for a full meal—a solid selection of highball cocktails and Old World wines doesn’t hurt, either. While it’s worth stopping by for Italian-style small plates such as bruschetta with smoked ricotta and tuna crudo with beluga lentils, the scratch-made pastas including the signature crown cacio e pepe with ricotta, butter, lemon, and black pepper reward those who stick around for mains.
Giulietta (Little Italy)
Giulietta is all about understated elegance. From its deceptively simple dishes to its minimalist aesthetic, every element of the restaurant exudes subtle charm. The space is polished yet warm and invites diners to linger over an extra glass from the restaurant’s Italian-focused list. Executive chef Rob Rossi serves up unexpected versions of Italian standbys such as calamari fritti featuring fried Moroccan squid with shishito peppers, lemon, and roasted garlic aioli. The restaurant’s namesake pizza, La Giulietta (topped with Sicilian bronte pistachio, lardo di Modena, panna, and smoked scamorza, a southern Italian cow’s milk cheese) is a must-try. Round out your modern Italian meal with exceptional desserts such as Torta della Nonna with wildflower honey, pine nuts, and mascarpone crema.