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Best New Restaurants 2011

number 7 Queen Margherita Pizza

A 6,000–pound Neapolitan oven turns out soft-centred pies, and sparks the battle for city’s best crust

The exquisite Margherita pizza from Queen Margherita Pizza

Pizza geeks will argue into eternity about whether Queen Margherita, the new place across from the Queen East streetcar yard, does better Neapolitan-style pies than the ever-popular Pizzeria Libretto on Ossington Avenue. But why fight, when both are delicious? The pizzas here, baked in a wood-burning oven (of course) by a couple of pros from Salerno, are excellent: firm and smoky and blistered with lightly blackened crustules on the outside, slightly goopy in the centre (as Neapolitans would argue is only proper) with bright, fresh-from-the-garden-tasting tomato sauce and smart, basic toppings. The namesake Margherita pizza, as you might expect, is exquisite, though non-purists should also try the Rocco, loaded with red onion and fennel sausage. As for that raging battle between east and west, each one is like a favourite child to us. But screw it—we’re going to say Queen Margherita, if only by a hair.

1402 Queen St. E., page

  • The Burger’s Priest’s Advocate

    You won’t find any relish at The Burger’s Priest! Relish is for hot dogs! (so a little birdy told me)

  • Sue

    Queen Margherita is not a “new” restaurant

  • Buffy Ingraham

    Glad to see these fantastic east end spots get some recognition from what often seems to be a westcentric focus on food.

  • John

    @ burger priest advocate. Are you really upset about being in the top ten toronto life issue cause of relish? Really >>

  • JD

    By “unapologetically big city,” do you mean that we’re supposed to be satisfied with rude and spotty service?

    I went there with a group of four on a Friday night and we ordered a few dishes each. They all came all at once, roughly 90 minutes later. That meant several of the hot dishes ended up cold by the time we got them. Plus the wait staff acted like we weren’t even there for the first 90.

    On top of that, none of the dishes was memorable. The only positive exception was the cocktails, which were full of surprises. Those, I must say, were impressively inventive.

    I would go back for a drink, but not if I was hungry.

  • Ignatz


  • CP48

    TL I have not heard one good thing about Fabbrica from anyone who has had a meal there. You have no credibility to judge a restaurant in my books.

  • mattagascar

    Another slanted article by Chris “Knowitall” Smith. I’m sick to death of hearing about the same restaurants over, and over, and over. Move on.

  • just the facts ma’am

    Queen Margherita …hum… Our carry home pizza was dry as a dog-gone bone (we live close by so that was not the prob) No way to order in advance on the weekend they dont answeer the phone. Just go there and wait in the car (there was no way I would brave the huge noisy crowds to have a drink while waiting) Flavorful crust… ah my taste buds do not agree. To each their own.

  • kk

    Libretto- (and apparently Queen Margherita if it is “just as good”) will not be getting my hard earned cash a third time (a second try was to rule out a first bad experience). Overpriced, and tasteless- an insult to Napoli onthe whole and any neighbourhood pizza joint. Better to save on a couple of meals there and go have the real thing- because they are nothing like what you wait in line, wait at your table, and pay too much for at Libretto.

  • MF

    I have to agree with JD – had two bad experiences in a row at Origin with both food and service after having had two good experiences. In both cases I communicated with the restaurant’s manager about the problems encountered (paid for food that was never received on first visit, had food removed from table while still eating, and a burnt and tasteless burger on second visit)and was left hanging. It was this dismissive treatment which bothers me more than anything. Mistakes happen, yes, but when the manager doesn’t care to ensure customer satisfaction given the chance, that is not a mistake, that to me is arrogance. Hottest restaurant in town? Not for long if that is how they plan to treat their return customers.

  • Eliza Doolittle

    I love that Dundas is considered “the middle of nowhere”. It just encapsulates the offensive egocentric attitude that so many Torontonians bring with them when they step outside the GTA.

  • foodie

    Surprised that SALT wine bar wasn’t a part of the list. I’ve eaten there three times and all were great. Service was a little green but the food, decor and atmosphere were steler.

  • giraff

    Went to Queen Margherita Pizza, pizza here is the real deal. Its a great room with lots of character. A real winner in Toronto and by far the best dinning experience in the east end. I think I may have to go back maybe lunch Tomorrow, I aslo have been to Fabbrica and I think Marks best days are behind, or maybe he should focus on overcharging for average food at all his other restos.

  • didi


  • Bob

    PLEASE don’t put one restaurant to a page – show a list then maybe a description per page. Big pain to load 10 separate pages just to scan the list.

  • Louis

    The food at origin was disgusting. The duck confit wrap was so salty we could not eat it. Chorizo + manchego rice + poached egg + salsa verde, was horrible. Every was perfect until we mixed in the salsa verte. The salsa was so salty that it ruined the rice dish.

  • Adrian

    Are you kidding??? Chatto was such a wanker, I’ll take Nuttall-Smith anyday.

  • Lynda

    I am getting worried that the new guy isn’t much better that Chatto. The Burger’s Priest is HIGHLY overrated. The burger tasted good, but was really just a slider. Too small and overpriced for mediocre taste. It was fresh, but that’s about it. I’ve had better homemade burgers in someone’s backyard.

  • sal albano

    visited some friends in “little India” and we stopped by at Burgers Priest. So simple yet so delicious. The place was packed and yet the service was quick. What a great concept.

  • Bitsbites

    The poster at Brockton General is not of Portugal’s national team. It is Sporting CP.

  • d.s

    Chris Knowitall should no way be in charge of such a list. I have met him and can tell you his grasp on food knowledge is limited. He will go with big names (Aprile, Mcwean) over substance. Fabricca is terrible and as someone who lives and eats in this city i am embarassed that it made this list. Bring back chatto and get rid of this arrogant sorry excuse for a journalist. I think Now magazine will need a new food critic soon…. you should get your application in now chris.

  • Jessie

    The only thing more cliche than a downtown elitist, is the over sensitive small towner who bemoans every perceived slight by Torontonians. How can anyone reading a magazine called “Toronto Life” be upset about an article as seen through a Toronto perspective? The town of Dundas consists of roughly 25,000 people – far less than half the size of The University of Toronto’s undergrad student body. When someone writes ‘middle of nowhere’ it’s all relative to the location of the other restaurants on the list. If you don’t like your local restaurant getting a positive review in a Toronto magazine, pick up a copy of Cottage Life and read their best ‘downtown’ restaurant picks for 2011 instead.

  • howard Knotsofaster

    Origin it opened in 2010????? new for 2011???????? it takes a year to be new!!!

  • KJH

    Hank’s at 9 1/2 Church could easily have made this list. Excellent food, atmosphere, & service!

  • DB

    Brockton General kinda sucked.. I dont see how it really even qualifies as a restaurant. It’s a list of like 9 or 10 Tapas sized dishes.

  • jojo

    I had one dinner there. I think it will be my last dinner there. enough said.

  • shavan

    Queen Margherita… best pizzain this city in my opinion, and as authentic as it gets! Yum.. have a craving for “the Rocco” right now..

  • dj

    Origins is crap on every level…


    Why does Toronto Life keep recommending one and two star restaurants? Who wants to go to a bunch of so-so restaurants?

  • DB

    DUNDAS is a city – Thank you Jessie for pointing that out after so many Torontonians forgot how to read.

    I must say as a Steelcity kid now converted to Torontian it is funny to see the negative theme to all of these comments. “taking your hard earned money elsewhere” something tells me you dont swing a hammer or stand in front of a machine all night…someone go out of your way to post something positive.

    and Jessie, Cottage country is actually pretty nice…put down your mac book, go outside and be active.

  • stephanie

    re: origin… has anyone else noticed that it seems to be a rip-off of Graham Elliot (in Chicago) – right down to the truffled popcorn (by the way, at GE, the TP is served in lieu of a bread basket @ no charge)…

  • sara

    I went to Brockton General and was grossly disappointed in the food and the service. The only good food was the wine and that’s not saying much. I was shocked that this restaurant made the top ten. the service was beyond spotty with waitresses that did not know their own menu. The food was bland and when I asked for chili flakes or hot sauce, I felt like I had offended the chef. WILL NEVER GO BACK. Terrible experience.

  • TOcooks

    @stephanie – bahahahhaha everything Aprile comes up with is a rip off .. the guy has ZERO originality! – from the iced coffee (last course on Colborne Lane’s tasting) carbon copied from El Bulli 2002, to the Origin’s handrolls ripped right off Momofuku.

  • nicole

    Burger priest is not one of the best…the meat is tasteless and the burgers are greasy. Truly disappointed for such an expensive meal. Two burgers and fries over $30 bucks…its ground beef for goodness sake..Rip off.

  • buddyholly

    For me, the tomato sauce on the Queen Margherita pizzas tasted like ketchup. So I rate Pizza Libretta way superior.

  • mamabear

    origins is … o-kay

    at best

    french fries marvelous (but no excuse not to be, right?) but the claim to fame on the menu seems to be rather hihgly seasoned sauces burying fine ingredients below. is that a thing now?

    by end of the night, i couldn’t get rings off my fingers for the food being oversalted. no, it was not a hot night (weather-wise or other-wise)

    service appalling. i know the “philosophy” is that the chef knows best and will decide food order. but my philosophy is that the customer goes to a restaurant to be served. in this case, i did not want the red wine food coming out with the my glass of white nor my seafood course arriving with my cab. which i specified up front. nor did i appreciate the waitress berating me for insisting i wanted the meat dish last. (and i bet that the table who got the french fries i returned wouldn’t have been pleased either.)

    and why, oh why, are there no local beer options?

    a place with potential but living on pretense. blech

  • Pete West

    On your #1 ranking I made the trip in from Oakville to dine at Origin. You’ll find my review on the Black Tie Reviews section here->

  • Kyle

    Qmp has great pizza and the sauce was fresh and sweet, not like ketchup. I loved the diavolo and would definitely go back for some more with the kids! Great family place!,

  • Blair

    Wow. The whiners are out en masse. Some of you have added constructive comments. The rest of you just sound bitchy. You have the right to disagree with the writer but don’t make it seem like your opinion should be of more value than his. Food is subjective and we’re all strangers here.

  • Blair

    Forgot to mention…Fabbricca was a huge disappointment. The restaurant itself was gorgeous but unfortunately the food was regular fare.

  • Jaipur Property

    I love that Dundas is considered “the middle of nowhere”… Please log on our website for Jaipur Property

  • EJ

    I’ve been to origin twice now. The first time was great so I returned for an anniversary dinner. I was very disappointed with the service. I booked a table a month in advance and upon walking in the door I was told that only the bar was available. I asked to be switched to one of the many empty tables and was given a harsh no. The restaurant is great with allergies and restrictions but they seem to not provide acceptable service for people they deem unworthy. The service on my second visit gave me a feeling that the whole restaurant was very snobby. Won’t be returning any time soon.

  • themacguy

    Not much to say but typical reviews of snobby overpriced venues in this city. not one of these places reviewed is worth the effort to go to or the prices they charge. Burger Priest is perhaps the only one that will get some food in your belly at a reasonable price but considering that they grind their own meat on site and they cook their burgers to pink in middle there is more of a chance you’ll get food poisoning instead of a nice warm fuzzy feeling…SAD!

  • Sheila

    Queen Margherita Pizza while an interesting style of pizza is not to my taste. Essentially it was reminiscent of warm Indian Nan bread with a sparse smattering of raw, cold ingredients tossed on top as an afterthought, which did not adhere to the crust when I picked up a slice. For this I waited 45 minutes while those seated after me were served first.

  • Tina

    This small town girl doesn’t mind the annoying drive through traffic to get the best burger ever at ‘The Priest’ when in the big city!

  • Mike

    We’ve only eaten at Queen Margherita once, but want to go back. My advice is to sit in the roomy loft space on the top floor. Both of our pies were excellent, as was the salad, and the place has a decent wine list. Service was friendly and efficient, but we were there on a weekday afternoon and we were the only two people in the space, so can’t offer any insights on a busy night. However, thought the food was very good.

  • April

    The first time I went to Enoteca, I was blown away. But the 2nd time, I went with 2 girlfriend’s, and all 3 of our pastas were awful! Flavourless and bland, and not what the menu promissed. The service was equally horrible. Black Skirt makes a far better pasta, and after being there 3 times, I would say it is far more solid then Enoteca.

  • Kirpa

    Kultura is Definately up there when it comes to the best food in toronto.

  • TC

    I think you should consider dropping the page panels for the best of lists. They are slow and generally cause viewers computors to lag.

    Most websites should look for a better presentation option then having to click through for every page.

  • Dee

    Frank’s Kitchen: worst reservation strategy ever. They took my reservation only to call me back two hours later to cancel me. Hmmm.

  • Angela Fox

    Huh…?? No way this happened. I’m a regular and so is everyone in there…every night, though you have to book really far in advance. Why…because their friggin great!! Incredible warm and unpretencious service and kick ass food. There is no chance that a restaurant with their reputation,accolades etc. did this. There’s more to this story for sure. There is a reason it takes weeks to get in there, and it isn’t because of bad service or crappy food. This place is one of the best places going (the value is crazy good). I’m sure they didn’t get as far as they did cancelling reservations!? Hmmm…usually more likely than not reputation is EARNED. Not everyone can be wrong. Don’t know what happened but something did other than what you are saying. Love to know their side.

    From a fan…and buddy theirs lots of them, know what I mean.

  • johanna

    sorry, have to agree with others that Fabricca – just not there. the food is ok at best. but seriously overpriced. is it as good as it gets in that area of town? possibly – but that isn’t saying much in a fairly under serviced area.

  • BeanBum

    I have to agree with Angie about Frank’s Kitchen. I am a friend of hers and often we go together, but many times have been with other people. My entire circle who are big diners agree that great care and detail goes into your dinner on every level, from the reservation call to the hostess, server and amazing detail in the food. “Thoughtful” service on every level. I haven’t seen a restaurant do all the extra things they do in service and food unless it’s a place like Canoe or North 44 – where you are paying a lot more for your dinner experience and is very formal, where Frank’s is actually fun.

    Read the reviews…great service is mentioned in every one of them. It’s not just about the food there, it’s the whole package. I know sometimes you have to wait a day for someone to get back to you, I’m also astute enough to why that it is.

  • foodgirl

    Burger’s Priest – get over yourselves. Denying someone relish on their burger? Who are you? The burger police? We went there once. A HUGE disappointment. Long wait for essentially mediocre food plus some “‘tude”. Burger’s Priest: you need a culinary exorcism.

  • alexandre

    we didn’t think you check all new restaurant.
    Do you know there is a nice new restaurant in the beaches.
    the restaurant use to be top 10 restaurant in 2005 with the same chef in the house today.
    check out
    it is a new restaurant open July 2011 and not so many people know about it. (Beaches casual fine dining)

  • alexandre

    we didn’t think you check all new restaurant.
    Do you know there is a nice new restaurant in the beaches.
    the restaurant use to be top 10 restaurant in 2005 with the same chef in the house today.
    check out
    it is a new restaurant open July 2011 and not so many people know about it. (Beaches casual fine dining)

    I also wonder as DIDI about where is the food man (Chatto)
    when you consider cafe or pub as a best new restaurant for sure something went wrong here and that’s why I don’t buy Toronto Life any more. good luck

  • alexandre

    this is the best joke ever (what the best about this one) (the burger briest) no flavour, slap of meat with no season and you called a restaurant.
    we are talking about a restaurant not take out.

  • Marty

    It would be nice if webmasters forego the number of hits and list each of the “top x” one per page…. its just annoying. I got to 4 and got fed up … Way to go Toronto Life

  • Adrian Parker

    Yet another person trying to make it ( as a food critic ..yawnn)in a city where there is VIRTUALLY no decent places to eat at to begin with…..too multicultured which enevitably leads to too many people trying to do the same thing…RE Danforth….Queen west…..Yonge st N of Davisville…. Toronto (along with a lot of other metroplolis’ are foolong themselves if they think they have world class food here…maybe (less than one hand) there are a few..but events like Winterlicious continually epitomize what a bunch of money grfubbing sub-tandard most of the lot of Toronto Restauranteurs are Would MUCH rather stay and cook at home or go out to a tried and true long established ( with credits to back it ) restauarant. You may go now Mr. Smith, nice try at an esoteric career…not working, back to school of some sorts ….There is morethan a PLETORA of people giving mediocre atbest reviews of just that RESTAURANTS THAT ARE MEDIOCRE AT BEST!tah tah yes, you may go now,. Adrian Parker

  • Lover

    As a restauranteur myself, it doesn’t surprise me that so many of these comments are negative (as it is much more frequent for the few unhappy customers to write a review on a place)! But these comments are just laughable! If all you people hate this list year in and year out………. stop using it! I personally have had two great experiences at Origin (however I do agree they lack originality) and Burger’s Priest is a treat unrivaled in the city! Lighten up and be positive……… or even better get some legitimacy and publish your own list.

  • Beggar on the street

    Fabrica!!!? REALLY???!!!!! Now I know for sure this publication is political, bought off and just like our politians – NOT to be trusted!
    I work down the street from Fabrica and often head to the local shopping district for lunch or dinner as do MANY of the people I work with. The one thing we all have in common aside from our workplace is our opinion of Fabrica and that is;… it’s an embarrasment to it’s owners and HUGE regret for anyone who took the time, effort, and money (btw: above avg prices too!) out of their wallet to try it out!!!

  • kk

    im so happy to see so many people revolting against this list- i dont know HOW so many of these restos continually draw lines- such bad food- and the pizza places especially (i did the 3 times to rule out inconsistencies and now feel like the fool)
    ive become a low brow $10/meal gal as Im tired of paying $200 for bad service bad food bad attitude

  • Beth

    Why is Fare Bistro in Lealieville not on your 2012 Edition of Beat Reataurants?

  • Cindy

    Errr…I’m so frustrated…trying to find a really good resto with prices that won’t bancrupt. What’s wrong with To.? Overpriced, overrated, small portions,lackluster joints abound. Sorry, but when I visit my fam in Montreal it’s bingo – great food, decent prices, no agonizing, tons to choose from. Why can’t To’ers in the resto biz wake up and look to Quebec for answers. Honestly, most of the restos here wouldn’t last two days in Mtl.

  • Christine

    With so many amazing restaurants opening in this city I find it hard to understand why the reviewers would select a place where service is “spotty”. I had the misfortune of looking to this list for a recommendation for a restaurant in the past and selected “Local Kitchen”. The service there was appalling. This left me wondering how it made the list of best restaurants in 2010. Service is such a key ingrediant in making a successful restaurant…if this piece of the equation isn’t right the restaurant shouldnt’t make it on the list.