Chef Michael Bonacini

Toronto’s top chefs pick the best new restaurants: Michael Bonacini

Toronto’s dining scene has been a whirlwind of dynamic, diverse and eclectic this year, as evidenced by our curated list of the 12 best new restaurants. We believe in getting the real scoop from insiders, which is why we tapped into the city’s culinary elite, from Michelin stars to celebrity chefs, to bring you their top picks.

Next up on our list is restaurateur and TV personality Michaela Bonacini, owner-chef at dozens of amazing restaurants in the city, including The Dorset, Beauty Eats, Auberge du Pommier and Maison Selby. We asked him to share his thoughts on the best new addition to they city’s dining scene. Keep reading to discover his exciting selection.

Chef Bonacini’s pick: Porzia’s

The interior at Porzia's
@commute/Instagram

“I’ve been a fan of Chef Basilio Pesce’s cooking ever since he graced our kitchens at Canoe and Biff’s Bistro. His food at Porzia’s is exquisitely simple. Just homey, Italian favourites featuring fresh, quality ingredients and executed perfectly,” chef Bonacini tells us.” Of course, the famous lasagna Bolognese is among the best in the city and not to be missed, but you must also save room to indulge in the curated selection of antipasti, several other housemade pastas and, of course, dessert. Porzia’s is the perfect neighbourhood spot—I only wish it was in my neighbourhood!”

Porzia’s

Porzia's famous lasagna
@porzias_lasagne/Instagram

No reservations, and walk-ins are only accepted for parties of six or fewer — this is a buzz restaurant, the kind of place that’s trendy, yet cosy and warm. The mid-price-range revolution of luscious red sauce dishes, from Danny’s Tavern on College Street to Sugo at Lansdowne and Bloor, has brought comfort food like Porzia’s thick, thick lasagne bolognese ($28) and crisp, moist eggplant Milanese ($26) all over the 6ix, making this the season of comfort food. Inside Porzia’s, it’s electric, scrumptious and fun — diners share knowing looks over calamari fritte ($26) like members of a secret club, reviving Corso Italia just north of St. Clair with chef/owner Basilio Pesce’s pandemic pop-up success. It’s still harder to get a table on a Thursday night than Stanley Cup tickets, and Pesce’s loving culinary attention — all the pastas are housemade, the Italian cheeses imported with care — reflect our need for more such spots. The tagliatelle ($29) is mouthwatering, and the Barese sausage ($34), with lamb and pork, is a dish from Pesce’s youth. The room thrums, the red sauce tangs and it feels like big 2011 Enoteca Sociale vibes. Try the Sancerre, then have one more. You won’t be able to get back in until fall.  319A Oakwood Ave.

To find out which restaurant Michelin-recongnized chef Anna Chen picked, click here.

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