The last year was a a busy and exciting one for the Toronto food scene, in which we saw electric openings that ranged from highbrow to low, including modest local joints and grand, attention-grabbing eateries.
To highlight the standout newcomers, we asked Michelin-recognized chefs Tobey Nemeth and Michael Cabello, recently awarded a Michelin star for their restaurant Edulis — featuring a seasonal and ever-changing menu that highlights the ingredients of the moment with a strong focus on seafood, vegetables and wild mushrooms — to tell us what they thought was the best new addition to the city’s dining scene. Read on to find out which spot they selected.
Chefs Nemeth and Cabello pick: Casa Paco
“An absolute gem of a restaurant — humming with energy and joy,” they recently told us. “Everything that comes out of the kitchen is FABULOUS.”
Casa Paco reunites chefs Rob Bragagnolo and Caroline Chinery, along with Tommy Conrad and Ailbhe McMahon who all worked together at now-closed King West restaurant Labora. Although Casa Paco’s Spanish-influenced menu feels reminiscent of Labora, the Little Italy restaurant swaps the King West outpost’s sleek, upscale esthetic for an ambience that’s more laid-back.. Hunter green accents, walls decorated with personal photos, low lighting and warm woods give the restaurant a welcoming feel. The four co-owners are the restaurant’s only staff, allowing them to interact directly with diners and develop more personal connections. Casa Paco’s menu is equally heartfelt, featuring dishes that read simply but present meticulous counterpoints of flavour and texture. In keeping with the restaurant’s informal style, the menu changes regularly, evoking the feeling of being hosted at a friend’s home for a meal rather than a formal, sit-down dining experience. Expect Spanish classics and subtle riffs on Mediterranean fare, with starting bites like tomato bread or grilled polenta with piave cheese giving way to mains like paella flecked with Salt Spring Island mussel. The newcomer already feels like a Little Italy stand-by. 50c Clinton St.
To find out which spot Michelin chef Erica Chong selected, click here.