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Openings

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Introducing: A3 Napoli, the Pizzeria Libretto and Porchetta & Co. project in Little Italy

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(Image: Renée Suen)

Name: A3 Napoli Pizzeria e Friggitoria
Neighbourhood: Little Italy
Contact: 589 College St., a3napoli.com, @A3Napoli
Owners: Libretto Restaurant Group and Nick auf der Mauer
Chefs: Rocco Agostino (Pizzeria Libretto) and Nick auf der Mauer (Porchetta & Co.)

The Food: Quick-service Neapolitan snacks split up into three categories: VPN-certified, wood-fired pies (à la Libretto); pizza fritta (stuffed and fried panzerotti-like pizzas); and seasonal fritti misti (fried bites including arancini, meatballs, zucchini sticks, and frittatina—fried cubes of pasta held together by provola cheese and ham). Just like at Libretto, there’s a Stefano Ferraro oven pumping out the pizza, but it’s kept company by a friggitrice (that’s a fryer, folks) for everything else. Eat in, or get your fried dough to go.

The Drinks: There’s Peroni beer on tap, as well as Capo, the restaurant’s signature brew, made by Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery. Wine-drinkers have the choice between Fielding Estate’s unoaked chardonnay and its fireside red.

The Place: Named after the unfinished Italian highway that leads into the centre of Naples, the 32-seat room has an Autostrada rest-stop feel, with its exposed bricks, black and white subway tiles and strings of incandescent lightbulbs. Additional seating is available on the small backyard and street-side patios.

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The Dish

How-To

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How The Stop makes hundreds of restaurant-quality meals a day on the cheap

(Image: Giordano Ciampini)

(Image: Giordano Ciampini)

Running a restaurant is no easy task. Now imagine trying to do it with a staff composed entirely of volunteers, a menu that changes based on produce donated the night before, a budget of $2 per plate and a mere three hours to churn out 200 meals. It might sound near-impossible, but for Scott MacNeil, the head chef at The Stop’s Davenport Road community kitchen, it’s all just part of a day’s work. “I love to cook and I love to feed people,” he says. A tremendous amount of thought and effort (not to mention donations) go into producing the 59,400 nutritious and delicious meals the drop-in serves each year, for free, to people who would otherwise go without. Here’s a glimpse into how they do it.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because Halal is coming to Yorkville

(Image: Gabby Frank)

(Image: Gabby Frank)

Between club king Charles Khabouth opening his swish steak house NAO, Rob Gentile launching his seafood-focused Buca, and The Chase group bringing their modern Japanese restaurant Kasa Moto to the former Remy’s location, Yorkville is in the midst of a culinary makeover. Now Paramount Fine Foods, the casual Lebanese eatery and bakery with 15 restaurants throughout southern Ontario (two of them at Pearson Airport), is set to open in the old Perry’s clothiers on Bay Street next door to Pusateri’s. Yorkville residents can nibble on thoroughly affordable manakeesh, halal chicken shawarma or freshly baked baklava—a welcome addition to pricy pastas and rib-eyes.

The Dish

Foodie Find

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because home cooking has never been easier

(Image: Michelle Iceruk)

(Image: Michelle Iceruk)

Torontonians love to call themselves foodies, but finding time to cook from scratch five days a week? Sure, we’ll get to that right after we darn these socks. Companies like Fresh Canteen and Chef’s Plate deliver super-convenient meal kits with pre-portioned ingredients and instructions, so even a kitchen klutz can have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes. Fresh City Farms, an organic grocery delivery service, is the latest (and best) entrant. It partners with local purveyors of seasonal produce and organic meat, and puts together simple recipes like lemon pork chops with kale fried rice, or tofu and broccoli pad Thai. The meals are thoroughly delicious, if a little pricy (about $10 per plate) and a godsend for time-strapped, condo-dwelling professionals who’d rather use their pantry to store winter sweaters.

The Dish

Random Stuff

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because we can rent chickens

(Image: Getty Images)

(Image: Getty Images)

The bucolic Stoddart Family Farm in Kawartha Lakes raises hens destined for city living. They’ve partnered with Rent the Chicken, a Pennsylvania-based company that connects boutique farms with urbanites enamored of the local food movement and dreaming of backyard-fresh eggs. The company provides a portable coop, food, supplies and two (or four) laying hens—fancy breeds like Columbian Wyandotte, Barred Rock and the quizzically named Black Sex Link—for the summer months, then returns the chickens to the farm in October. Rent the Chicken launched its Toronto service earlier this year, and although the city doesn’t officially allow people to keep backyard hens or roosters, inspectors turn a blind eye unless neighbours complain (usually about the smell—coops should be cleaned, and fresh straw laid, twice a week). A happy hen will lay up to six eggs per week, which will keep her foster parents flush in fluffy scrambles. It’s all the fun of gentleman farming without the long-term commitment.

From $375. 647-313-3997, rentthechicken.ca.

The Dish

Restaurants

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because Chinatown is getting a restaurant makeover

(Image: Gabby Frank)

(Image: Gabby Frank)

In Chinatown you can still find butcher shops with mahogany-skinned Peking ducks swinging in the windows and produce stands with overflowing bins of fermented mysteries. But for the first time, we’re seeing sprinkles of glamour too. Most recently, MasterChef Canada judge Alvin Leung and the show’s first winner, Eric Chong, opened R&D on Spadina just north of Queen. The artfully graffitied walls and softly bumping ’90s R&B soundtrack give a youthful edge to the otherwise serene space, with its double-height ceilings and plush grey banquettes. The food straddles old and new: Grandpa’s Fun Guo has a surprise hit of black truffle, and spindly egg rolls are amped up with spicy pickled bamboo shoots. Just up the street is Lucky Red, where they sling cocktails goosed with Sriracha and soy sauce, and People’s Eatery, with its platters of Peking duck and seared foie gras. All of these restaurants speak to Chinatown’s past, but they’re also squarely aimed at a voguish future.

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People

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because these women rule our kitchens

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because we’re in the midst of a bread renaissance

(Image: Vicky Lam)

Hover or tap numbers for annotations. (Image: Vicky Lam)

Fate has dealt a cruel hand to gluten-sensitive types, because there has never been a better time to buy golden-crusted, ultra-fresh artisanal bread in Toronto. Our bakers have gone bonkers for ancient and heirloom grains, and we’re geeking out over fragrant, nutty crusts and fluffy, chewy crumbs. A swipe of butter or a drizzle of olive oil is all you need to make a meal out of these lust-worthy loaves.

The Dish

Drinks

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Cold Ones: five of our favourite Ontario craft beers for the summer

There have never been more ways to enjoy Ontario craft beer, in every corner of the city. Here are our favourites

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1 TROPIC THUNDER
Wag the Wolf Hopfenweisse
Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co.
This hop-heavy, organic Bavarian-style wheat beer has characteristic banana and citrus notes, hazy golden colour, and a dry, slightly bitter finish. Perfect for cottage barbecues or post-portage knackwurst roasts. $7.95. LCBO 385377

2 LIGHT BRIGHT
Heller Highwater
Kichesippi Beer Company
A subtle beer that, with its relatively low alcohol content, you could sip all afternoon. A Munich helles lager, it’s light and clean, with an approachable malt flavour and a slightly grassy aftertaste. Fill up a poolside cooler. $2.75. LCBO 414441

3 RHUBARB FOOL
Mojo Citra Rhubarb Wheat Ale
Forked River Brewing Company
While some fruit wheat beers can be too sweet, this one goes in the opposite direction. The rhubarb flavour is subdued but bracingly tart, and citra hops lend a musky kick. Tuck a few in the picnic basket when you next head to the Island. $3.95. LCBO 424184

4 HERBAL ESSENCE
Pengo Pally
Bush Pilot Brewing Company
This saison is brewed with wild arctic herbs like crowberry and Labrador tea. It’s floral and spicy, with a slightly piney aftertaste. The name’s a reference to Johnny May, the first Inuk bush pilot to serve the eastern Arctic (“pengo pally” means “I miss you” in Inuktitut). Recommended for long fishing trips. $9.95. LCBO 426734

5 FRUIT LOOPY
Fruitstand Watermelon Wheat
Kensington Brewing Company
A light, refreshing ale (not strictly a wheat beer, despite the name) brewed in homage to Kensington Market’s many fruit and veggie stands. Fresh watermelon juice lends a slight Jolly Rancher flavour, tempered by a good bite. Great for boozy baby showers. $2.95. LCBO 422873

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Absolut Elyx Chef Series: Celebrating the city’s culinary stars

Absolut Elyx Chef Series:
Celebrating the city’s
culinary stars

Experience the future of Canada’s culinary scene

Absolut is giving away five prizes of $200 at each of the restaurants participating in the #ElyxChefSeries: Boehmer, Canoe, Carbon Bar, Café Bar Pasta, One by McEwan Group, and GEORGE Restaurant.

ENTER HERE. Absolut will select 30 random winners on July 17th. You must be a resident of Ontario to win.

This contest has been 20 years in the making. Now, for some history…

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The Dish

Food Shops

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Get dinner to go from De la Mer’s new Danforth store

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

“Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish. Do not overdo it,” reads the Lao Tzu quote scrawled onto a subway-tiled wall at De La Mer’s new Danforth location. The ex–dollar store space was transformed into a fish shop that could pass for a Parisian café. A glass case runs the length of the room and is filled with a rainbow of filets from white (Atlantic toothfish) to crimson (never-been-frozen, sashimi-grade tuna flown in from the Philippines). At the back of the shop is a ready-made food counter—this outpost is the only one of the three to have a commercial kitchen. Until recently, co-owners David Owen and Blake Edwards have been limited by what they could prep sans oven. The current roster of oven-ready goods includes a lobster mac ‘n’ cheese topped with panko crust, shrimp-and-pesto topped pizza, smoked trout quiche, zesty dips and a selection of soup, which includes a crab and corn chowder (pictured above).

189 Danforth Ave., 647-344-6922, delamer.ca

The Dish

Food Shops

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Apiecalypse Now is Christie Pits’ new vegan pizzeria

(Image: Alanna Lipson)

(Image: Alanna Lipson)

Vegan pizza lovers, rejoice! Though Apiecalypse Now shuttered its Markham Street bakeshop, it recently reopened as a vegan pizza parlour and snack bar on Bloor, right across from Christie Pits. Pies include the BBQ Buffalobotomy (“non-chicken” slathered in BBQ sauce), the White Walker (creamy garlic sauce, more of that “non-chicken” and arugula) and their Mac & Charlie pizza made with dairy-free macaroni and cheese. Customers can top their slices off with a whole host of stuff including hot sauce, dried peppers and nutritional yeast (a salty stand-in for cheese flavour). The shop also sells corn dogs and sub sandwiches, plus some vegan merchandise, like jars of something called Magic Vegan Bacon Grease. For dessert: doughnuts, cupcakes and soft-serve ice cream—all vegan-friendly, of course.

735 Bloor St. W., 416-516-2098, eatveganpizza.com, @eatveganpizza

The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Old School, an all-hours diner on Dundas West

toronto-restaurants-old-school-fried-chicken

(Image: Gabby Frank)

Name: Old School
Neighbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods
Contact: 800 Dundas St. W., 416-815-8790, oldschoolyyz.com, @oldschoolYYZ 
Previously: Hudson Kitchen
Owners and Chefs: Brad Moore (School, Xacutti) and Ian Kapitan (Precinct)

The Food: “Genuine classics,” according to the two owners. As of June 15, Old School will be serving things like stacks of hotcakes, fried chicken and sundaes, 24/7. (Currently, though, the restaurant is only open during normal business hours.) “Think of it as a mom that just never goes to sleep,” says Moore. There’s barbecue too, but he doesn’t want the place to be branded as a barbecue joint: “We could even go Italian one day and serve lasagna—and that’s really gonna screw someone up if they come in thinking it’s a barbecue restaurant.”

The Drinks: Beer and a handful of cocktails of course, but the restaurant’s signature sippers come in the form of milkshakes (including boozy ones), egg creams made with U-Bet chocolate sauce (a 120-year-old Brooklyn classic) and fountain sodas flavoured with organic syrups. “The bottle cap screwed everything up. It turned one bottle into a six-pack so people could take it home—otherwise if they wanted a pop, they had to go to a soda fountain,” says Moore. “It was the community centre of the neighbourhood.”

The Space: An old-timey, horseshoe-shaped soda bar is the front dining room’s centrepiece, and a second dining room leads into the general store where guests can sit at a communal table or get their food to go. Also available at the general store: well, whatever you want, according to Moore, who says they’ll sell customers an egg or a cup of sugar if they need one. “We want to be the good neighbour,” says Kapitan.

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Food Shops

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Scoop Shop is Trinity Bellwoods’ new ice cream parlour

(Image: Renée Suen)

(Image: Renée Suen)

While you may not be allowed to crack a cold one in public, Scoop Shop, a new ice cream parlour at Dundas and Bathurst, is providing perfectly legal and refreshing snacks for the hood’s park-goers. After years of working with pastry, owner Sanober Motiwala, a graduate of University of Guelph’s ice cream technology program, combined her two passions when she founded Sweet Sammies in 2013. Familiar at farmers’ markets around the city, the pop-up now has a permanent storefront just steps away from Trinity Bellwoods and Alexandra parks. Customers can get anything from single scoops to sundaes, ice pops, profiteroles and even baked Alaskas. There are also milkshakes, malts, affogatos and ice cream floats. But Motiwala’s signature items are the made-to-order ice cream sandwiches that stuff one of the shop’s house-made ice creams between two freshly baked cookies, macaron halves or “crownies”—cookie-like brownies and blondies. Ice cream flavours rotate regularly but can include vanilla bean and Maldon-salted caramel, Propeller Coffee–injected espresso and cajeta (Mexican caramel). Vegan and lactose-intolerant ice cream lovers, fear not: there are also coconut- and fruit-based sorbets.

808 Dundas St. W., 416-854-2949, scoopshop.ca, @SweetSammiesCA

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Kasa Moto, the Chase empire’s swanky Japanese spot in Yorkville

toronto-restaurants-kasa-moto-yorkville-hamachi

(Image: Renée Suen)

Name: Kasa Moto
Neighbourhood: Yorkville
Contact: 115 Yorkville Ave., 647-348-7000, kasamoto.ca, @kasa_moto
Previously: Montage (but prior to that, Remys)
Owners: Chase Hospitality Group, Westdale Properties, Adam Arviv and Mark Silver
Chefs: Daisuke Izutsu (Don Don Izakaya, Kaiseki-Sakura), Michael Parubocki (Momofuku Noodle Bar, Frank’s Kitchen) and Tsuyoshi Yoshinaga (Yuzu, Kingyo, Kaji)

The Food: Contemporary Japanese dishes including a mix of izakaya and robata-grilled hot and cold small plates with some larger options, too (like a whole roasted bass). There’s also a sushi bar that specializes in both traditional and contemporary takes on sushi and sashimi, all made with traceable and responsibly harvested seafood. There’s a menu of small plates for the patio, and, on the weekends, brunch will include items like bincho-grilled wagyu steak and eggs, and breakfast bentos of fried rice and salmon.

The Drinks: Cocktails infused with Japanese flavours like yuzu, shiso or sansho salt; Japanese beers on tap and in bottles; a selection of wine and spirits—and sake, of course.

The Space: II by IV Design was responsible for transforming the 12,000-square-foot space into multiple rooms accented with wood ceilings, indoor topiary and hand-painted murals. The two-story restaurant and lounge can seat 410 people spread out across a split-level main-floor dining room, a sizeable rooftop patio, a street-side terrace and Bar Moto on the upper level, which is available for private functions.

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