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Introducing: Alimento, King West’s bright new Italian fine food shop and cheesemaker

Inside the new King West fine food store from the brothers Contardi (Image: Gizelle Lau)

For over a year, the windows on the northwest corner of King and Brant have sported signs reading “Alimento Fine Food Emporium: Coming Soon.” Last week, Alimento finally opened, giving King Westers one less excuse to avoid using their kitchens. We stopped by to take a look.

Behind Alimento are Marco, Joe, Albert Jr. and Anthony Contardi, four brothers who come from a long line of cheesemakers (black and white photos behind the bar show their grandfather making cheese). The shop is a modernized version of a traditional Italian marketplace, much like Eataly in New York, with both a grocery business and a restaurant. Previously home to an EQ3 warehouse store, the renovated space features the staple King West exposed brick look.

Alimento’s grocery store offers a large selection of specialty deli meats, cheeses (including homemade bocconcini, burrata and fior di latte), antipasti and olives. There’s also a bakery and biscotti bar stocked with items made by Italian baker Andrea Mastrandrea (Forno Cultura) and even a fresh flower stand for some old-world nostalgia. The restaurant side features a long marble mozzarella bar, a few small tables, and a bar in the back with coffee and pastries in the morning and wine as the afternoon rolls around. Tucked in the back, a large oven churns out focaccia sandwiches and pizza as well as bottled drinks and prepared salads and pastas.

A full sit-down menu is available from lunch through dinner, with most of the produce sourced from the grocery side. All dishes are traditionally Italian: roasted beet caprese with homemade fior di latte and basil ($9), a cheese platter featuring fior di latte and goat milk formaggio fresco along with aged caciocavallo and trecce ($21), a salumi platter ($23). There are also pastas like the squid ink fettuccine nero with cuttlefish, garlic and oregano ($15); pizzas ($11–$19); and secondi like a 14 oz. bone-in rib eye ($27) and a whole lemon and olive oil branzino ($25).

Alimento Fine Food Emporium, 522 King St. W., 416-362-0123, alimento.ca

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  • Haha

    Clearly the writer of this has never been to Eataly! Comparing this place to Eataly is hilarious to anyone who has been. Oh how Toronto wants to be NYC. Not to say it doesn’t look great though!

  • vh

    clearly, haha hasn’t tasted this food and has chosen to stroke his ego and ill-education with moronic comments based on no experience. Alimento is a collaborative of some of the most talented chefs, bakers and food artisans in the world… and ‘haha’ is just missing out on an amazing food experience, just because he thinks that he’s experienced…. the only one that loses is you ‘haha’…. hahahahhahaha!!!! way to cut yourself short on experience by trying to pretend that you know what you’re talking about!
    Alimento… You Rock!!!! Your food is amazing and I wish you continued success!!!!

  • EL

    All haha said was that it doesn’t compare to Eataly,which is true. Perhaps a smaller version of it.
    Also true is that Toronto likesa to compare itself to NY which is a comical.

  • Restos in TO

    Anyone tried the lunch/dinner menu here yet? Thoughts? We’re interested. Will probably drop by over the next week or two.

    Cheers,
    RestosinTO.com

  • bisca

    Just ate lunch there.

    PIzza was meh. Nice sauce, but too oily. Crust was underwhelming. Friend had the pasta and it was decent. They don’t have a license yet, but it’s soon to come I’m sure. Resto/Mozza bar is a really nice space. Wells designed tables and chairs. Good lunch vibe, and I’m sure it’s even nicer when the sun goes down.

    Grocery has some very good selection with Pingue Niagara salumi. They’ve even sliced up and packaged the selections of prosciutto, lonza, guanciale etc. for a quick take away. All in all the grocery space felt sparse. They’ve just started so I’m sure they’re trying to figure out what woks best. Might work in the future to have some packaged meals later in the day for the work crowd heading home and not wanting to cook. Also there’s a growing condo community in that area that could use some options.

    An interesting space, a good concept. They just need a few months to settle in and find their voice.

    Wish them well.

  • stella

    Checked their website nothing? called them got an answering machine so when are they open exactly?

  • davy

    I have been to both Eataly and Alimento and have enjoyed both- Alimento might be samller but the food is of similiar quality of that of Eataly.

  • kat

    wishing them all the success in the world and welcome to the king west hood!

    i also believe that Toronto is happy to be Toronto and not NYC. We are a great city and everyone who lives in this city should be proud of it!

    Kat

  • Emily

    My husband and I have been here both for dinner and to pick up grocery items. Leaving this NYC vs. Toronto vs. Italy aside (n.b. we have lived and traveled in all of these locations), Alimento is just great passionate food. From Luciano slicing truffled cheese to house made apricot and pistachio chocolate, house made rosemary bread and pasta everything is from the heart. The owner is more than happy to tell you about the house olive oil from Puglia and the people who own the olive groves. You can reuse the bottles the oil is sold in so it makes it not only the delicious choice, but also the eco-friendly option. I have nothing to say but positive things. Love the food, love the staff and welcome to the neighborhood! This place is a must for a sit down dinner as well as fine food store.

  • Giancarlo

    Huge and gorgeous space. With such little inventory in the store section and so few “covers” in the dining area, I wonder how they will pay that rent!

 

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