Between Trinity Bellwoods and Kensington Market lies one of Toronto’s hippest, trendiest, and liveliest districts. Between Mod Club’s buzzing crowd, College Street’s large student demographic, and long-standing restaurants, Little Italy is packed full of culture, good nightlife and excellent food. During summer months, Little Italy’s patios are full of wine connoisseurs dining el fresco, while in the winter, students take over the late-night bars and music scene.
Here are the hottest places to dine in Little Italy.
Starving Artists Waffles & Espresso
If there’s something Toronto is full of, it’s starving artists. And people who love to brunch. Which is why Starving Artist is here to be Little Italy’s very own all-day brunch spot. But it’s not just any brunch, as here your meal will be served on a waffle. That’s right: whether you like savory or sweet waffles, whether you like them topped with poached eggs or spicy chicken, or whether you like paired with peanut butter and banana, Starving Artist has a waffle for you. While you’re devouring your waffles, check out the work from a rotating lineup of local (starving) artists that decorate the walls! 810 College St.
Zitto Zitto Taverna
Zitto Zitto Taverna might be relatively new to the neighbourhood compared to many other Little Italy eateries, but fortunately it’s learned from its older sister Sotto Voce, located right down the street. It’s hard to find that perfect balance of elegantly intimate and comfortable casual, but somehow Zitto Zitto hits the mark. While the exposed wine racks featuring bottles from across the globe, and cozy tables lit by candlelight make the space romantic, the décor of the taverna—which includes framed Mona Lisas chewing gum—certainly makes it relaxed enough for a first date. And, if the night goes well, why not grab another glass of wine at Sotto Voce after? 593 College St.
DaiLo doesn’t just offer a different taste in the neighbourhood compared to all the Italian menus found along the strip, but it offers a menu unique within all neighbourhoods of Toronto. The new Asian cuisine created by Chef Nick Liu follows French tradition, making it one of the most multi-cultural restaurant spots on the strip. The highlight at DaiLo is the tasting menu. The walls of cherry blossom prints make an Insta-worthy location, while chipped white-brick walls from which black-and-white family photos hang, create a homey feeling to the space. 503 College St.
It’s no surprise Café Diplomatico is one of the hottest spots in the neighbourhood. It’s been on the strip, attracting locals and visitors for more than 50 years. Serving up seafood, house-made pizzas, and fresh pastas, Café Diplomatico prides themselves on offering the most authentic experience of an Italian family meal. One of the main legacies from the restaurant is just how much entertainment guests can find at “The Dip” (as locals call it). Whether you’re people watching passers-by from their buzzing patio, or you’re seated indoors to watch the latest soccer game, there’s always something to keep you entertained. 594 College St.
Restaurants in Little Italy won’t just transport you to the Mediterranean country but will give you tastes of all of Europe. Bar Raval is Grant van Gameron’s Barcelona-inspired venue. That means a long list of beer is on the menu, as well as a range of sharable tapas. Since the Spanish metropolitan never sleeps, Bar Raval promises to keep guests going all day, too, serving Sam James Coffee in the morning and an ever-changing menu of house cocktails until 1am. With a full patio and small, dark interior that’s defined by curved mohagany surfaces, you’ll feel exclusive when you’re inside drinking a cocktail while a line forms outside the venue. Like diners in Europe, be sure to take your time and enjoy the moody atmosphere at Bar Raval. 505 College St.