Little Italy

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Cafe Diplomatico enforces $15-per-hour minimum spend during World Cup matches

$15

—The minimum amount customers have to spend—per hour—for the privilege of watching Italy’s World Cup matches at Cafe Diplomatico in Little Italy. According to the CBC, the College Street institution debuted the minimum-spend policy during last Saturday’s Italy-England game. As one customer noted, the rule amounts to an enforced-drinking policy, since few people are likely to consume enough food to cover the charge, especially at a place where a large pizza only costs $14.50.

The Informer

Real Estate

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Sale of the Week: the $1.7 million Victorian that shows the changing nature of Little Italy’s rental stock

Address: 432 Markham Street
Neighbourhood: Little Italy
Agent: Elden Freeman, Freeman Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage

The Property: This massive, three-storey Victorian semi is split into three separate, designer-quality suites, one on each of the lower and main levels, with a larger one taking up the second and third storeys. Each unit has a separate kitchen with gas appliances. The top level houses a master bedroom and sitting room with a walkout to a 460-square-foot deck. In all, the seller claims the property can generate $94,800 gross annually, but the real draw is the possibility of occupying the huge upper suite while renting out the other two.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Sale of the Week: the $970,000 townhouse that shows location and space can still be had—for a price

Sale of the Week: 10 Plymouth Avenue, Unit 1

Address: 10 Plymouth Avenue, Unit 1
Neighbourhood: Little Italy
Agent: Matt Manuel and Paul Johnston, Right At Home Realty Inc., Brokerage

The Property: The end unit on a row of semi-detached townhomes, located on a quiet laneway within walking distance of Trinity Bellwoods Park. The fact that it shares only one wall with neighbours means it has ideal south, east and west exposures and an unobstructed view of the downtown skyline. In terms of square footage, it approaches the size of an actual home, but it’s taxed like a condo. A central staircase creates a neat dividing line through the interior space, and a finished lower level gives the owner a little extra room to sprawl. Out back, the private yard is a low-maintenance concrete urban garden.

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The Goods

Shopping

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Queen Video is closing its College location after a decade (and selling off 30,000 rentals)

(Image: Yelp)

(Image: Yelp)

In a heartwarming note on its storefront window, Queen Video announced the closure of its College location earlier this week. “Ten years hasn’t been long enough, but our lease has ended…thank you Little Italy, we will miss all you movie lovers.” While this is unfortunate news for neighbourhood film buffs (at least, those who still frequent video stores instead of just downloading everything), the store’s Queen Street and Bloor Street locations will continue to peddle rentals for “many years to come.”

In the meantime, if you fancy adding to your physical DVD collection, the College outpost is selling off all 30,000 of its titles for $6.20 each. There are some solid deals on hard-to-find videos, including silent films, niche documentaries, music movies and tonnes of foreign films. Of course, there are also popular Oscar picks, but if you’re going to delve into the extensive archives, it’s worth emerging with an obscure find or two. The sale is on until April 30.

The Dish

Closings

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The Mad Italian closes its doors after sane moment of epiphany

Mad-Italian-for-lease

The Little Italy location of The Mad Italian (Image: Jon Sufrin)

The Mad Italian Gelato Bar seemed to be on an upward trajectory over the past few years, having expanded twice from its original Leaside location (first to Little Italy in 2011, then to the Danforth in 2012). But owner Eli Turkienicz has confirmed with us that the business is finished, and that all three locations are now closed.

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The Informer

Features

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RAT APOCALYPSE! Toronto’s new home invaders are growing in shocking numbers

Rats feasting in our green bins and backyard tomato patches. Rats scurrying through our living rooms. Rats popping out of our toilets. An investigation into how Toronto became a vermin breeding ground

RAT APOCALYPSE! Toronto's new home invaders are growing in shocking numbers

I’ve lived in Toronto for 25 years, off and on, and I have seen maybe half a dozen rats, both living and dead. Like most people, I don’t seek them out. This chilly Monday morning in early fall, however, I’m at a midtown food-production facility that I must leave nameless—the owners would prefer to stay on good terms with their neighbours. I’m in the company of Daniel Mackie and Ron Forbes, two pest control professionals, both attired in the crisp, pinstriped uniforms of GreenLeaf Pest Control. GreenLeaf bills itself as the “number one eco-conscious pest control service in Toronto.” They’re here to inspect the 30-odd traps they’ve laid for the rats that have plagued this establishment for months. They do this once a week, unlocking the hard black plastic boxes and extracting the two Jawz snap traps that they’ve baited with soy butter or pepperoni or a daub of Provoke gel, a so-called rat attractant. If they find a rat, its lifeless body is dropped into a black garbage bag, double-bagged and then taken back to their main office and thrown in a dumpster.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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Condo of the Week: $1.1 million for a Little Italy penthouse with a dramatic catwalk and a roomy terrace

Condo of the Week: 301 Markham Street

Address: 301 Markham Street, Penthouse 805
Neighbourhood: Palmerston-Little Italy
Agent: Steven Fudge, Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage
Price: $1,099,999

The Place: A two-bedroom, two-floor penthouse in a building at College and Bathurst containing 68 lofts.

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The Informer

Real Estate

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House of the Week: $1.65 million for a Little Italy semi with a backyard coach house

House of the Week: $1.65 million for a Little Italy semi-detached with a backyard coach house

Address: 290 Palmerston Avenue
Neighbourhood: Trinity-Bellwoods
Agent: Stefani Konidis and Catherine Black, Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage
Price: $1,649,000

The Place: A Little Italy house with Victorian red brick charm and a fully-finished coach house out back.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Darwin, Little Italy’s new modern French bistro

Introducing: Darwin

Name: Darwin Bistro Bar
Neighbourhood: Little Italy
Contact info: 651 College St., 647-348-9347, Facebook Page, @DarwinBistroBar
Owners: Husband-and wife Junaid and Neeman Rahman, and Junaid’s brother Ryan Rahman
Chef: Jean Regis Raynaud, previously of Le Paradis and Paris’s Hotel Costes

The food: Modern French cuisine with international flavours, with starters like moules frites in a tom yum soup ($12) and curried shrimp cocktail with creamed avocado ($10).

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Ryoji Ramen and Izakaya, the Little Italy outpost of the Okinawa-based chain

Introducing: Ryoji Ramen and Izakaya

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

Little Italy’s Ryoji combines two of the city’s hottest food trends: ramen and izakayas. The popular Japanese chain, founded in 1988 by chef and owner Ryoji Kinjo, has nearly a dozen locations in Okinawa, although this is the first outside Japan.

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The Dish

Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for December 17 to 23

Porchetta and Co. celebrates two years in business on Thursday with $1 sandwiches (Image: Andrew Brudz)

Monday, December 17

  • Monday Night Dinners at Local Kitchen and Wine Bar: Every Monday night, Local Kitchen serves a $40 prix fixe menu of Italian fare with half-price wine bottles and no corkage fee. 1710 Queen St. W., 416-534-6700. Find out more »
  • 86’D With Ivy Knight—Annual Sagittarian Ball: Get festive in your best cocktail attire while enjoying complimentary hors d’oeuvres from Stasis Preserves, mead tasting from Rosewood Estates and cheap cocktails made by pros from the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • Burger Mondays: Enjoy $5 burgers and $5 pints on Mondays, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Gladstone Melody Bar. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W., 416-531-4635. Find out more »
  • Lettuce Wrap Night at Chantecler: Chantecler’s popular lettuce wrap night is now taking place twice a week. Come out on Sunday and Monday nights for lettuce wraps with meats, assorted pickles and condiments for $21 per person until 1 a.m.—or until the food runs out. Chantecler, 1320 Queen St. W., 416-628-3586. Find out more »
  • Make, Don’t Buy—Chocolates for Beginners: As part of the Depanneur’s Make, Don’t Buy series of DIY gift workshops, join Emily Zimmerman and learn how to make old-fashioned creamy ganache truffles, chocolate bark with toppings of your choice and crunchy chili-cornflake bars, all using organic, Fairtrade and locally processed Chocosol chocolate. The Depanneur, 1033 College St., 416-828-1990. Find out more »

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The Dish

Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for December 3 to December 9

Foodies on Foot leads their Streetcar Food Tour on Saturday (Image: Robert Taylor)

Monday, December 3

  • Monday Night Dinners at Local Kitchen and Wine Bar: Every Monday night, Local Kitchen serves a $40 prix fixe menu of Italian fare with half-price wine bottles and no corkage fee. 1710 Queen St. W., 416-534-6700. Find out more »
  • 86’D With Ivy Knight: Third annual Battle Offal. The city’s top chefs prepare the gnarly bits for you to sample. Competitors include the Group of 7 Chefs, Beast, The Stop, the Tempered Chef, Nick and Nat’s Uptown 21, Richmond Station and GwaiLo. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • Burger Mondays: Enjoy $5 burgers and $5 pints on Mondays, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Gladstone Melody Bar. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W., 416-531-4635. Find out more »
  • Guiltless Dessert Indulgence: Learn how to use healthy alternatives to dairy, wheat and sugar. Menu includes chewy chocolate brownies, carrot pineapple cake, coconut mango pudding and jam dot cookies. Marni’s Kitchen, 26 Lauderdale Dr., 647-477-8131. Find out more »
  • Simple Healthy Meals in 30 Minutes: Learn to quickly prepare three delicious and healthy meals: winter salad with pine nuts, radicchio and Asian pears; penne with sausage, fennel and pecorino; and fresh fish with tomato sauce and cherry tomato couscous. The Chef Upstairs, 516 Mount Pleasant Rd., 416-544-9221. Find out more »
  • Workshop—Naturally Fermented Condiment Gift Pack: Holistic nutritionist Kate Leinweber leads a workshop that covers the how and why of simple fermentation while you prepare a delicious batch of homemade ketchup, mustard and relish, perfect for holiday gift giving. The Depanneur, 1033 College St., 416-828-1990. Find out more »

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The Dish

Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for November 26 to December 2

The final GwaiLo pop-up at Senses takes place on Monday (Image: Gizelle Lau)

Monday November 26

  • GwaiLo Pop-Up Series Final Dinner: Senses and GwaiLo host the final dining event in the month-long GwaiLo pop-up series. This event will bring together some of Toronto and New York’s finest modern Asian chefs in support of the Stop Food Community Centre, including GwaiLo’s Nick Liu, Danny Bowien of New York’s Mission Chinese, Andy Ricker of Brooklyn’s Pok Pok, Nuit Regular of Khao San Road, Cheska Ang of Actinolite and Robbie Hojilla of Mr. Pong’s Bar. Senses, SoHo Metropolitan Hotel, 328 Wellington St. W., 416-489-8922. Find out more »
  • Movember Toronto Food Week—Amanda Ford’s Fall Cooking Demo: Introducing the first ever MOTOFO, five days of Movember-fuelled food events. Tonight, City Girl Catering chef Amanda Ford teaches cooking for fall. There’ll be venison, cocktails and snacks, plus an appearance from beekeeper Fred Davis of Fred D’s Bees. Address revealed after booking. Find out more »
  • Monday Night Dinners at Local Kitchen and Wine Bar: Every Monday night, Local Kitchen serves a $40 prix fixe menu of Italian fare with half-price wine bottles and no corkage fee. 1710 Queen St. W., 416-534-6700. Find out more »
  • 86’D with Ivy Knight: A pop culture piggy party with Chief Clancy Wiggum as the celebrity theme for the night. Enjoy Flaming Moes by Josh Lindley, bacon Timbits sponsored by artisanal bacon purveyor This Little Pig, and Wiggum videos. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • Hearty and Healthy Italian: Learn how to create healthy Italian dishes by using simple substitutions for your favourite classic Italian recipes. Menu includes new age minestrone soup, vegan caesar salad, pesto pasta and anise-sesame biscotti. Marni’s Kitchen, 26 Lauderdale Dr., 647-477-8131. Find out more »
  • Monday’s Dinner—Dustin Gallagher: The former Grace chef and Top Chef Canada competitor heads over to Chantecler to cook a special one-off meal based on Marco Pierre White’s seminal White Heat cookbook. Chantecler, 1320 Queen St. W., 416-628-3586. Find out more »

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Hapa Izakaya, the Little Italy outpost of Vancouver’s popular Japanese pub

Introducing: Hapa Izakaya

(Image: Renée Suen)

Toronto’s gone gaga over all things boisterous and Japanese of late, so it’s no surprise that news of the impending arrival of Vancouver’s Hapa, one of North America’s best izakayas, had the city’s Japanese food lovers buzzing. Justin Ault founded the chain with his wife Lea nearly a decade ago, hoping to recreate the Tokyo-style izakayas they’d frequented while living abroad in a way that was polished, friendly and accessible to patrons not fluent in Japanese. “We wanted a place where our friends would feel comfortable to visit and eat at,” Ault tells us. Although many backers had tried to entice the popular mom-and-pop operation to open in Toronto, it only became reality when siblings Maaji (general manager), Jiena (assistant manager) and Mackenzie (bar manager) Isobe—who share 20 years of experience working at the original Robson Street location—expressed their interest in starting a Hogtown branch earlier this year.

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The Dish

The Month That Was

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The Month That Was: The Toronto restaurants and bars that opened and closed in August

Bent, the new restaurant from Susur Lee and his sons (Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

Openings

  • Bent—Susur Lee’s sons Kai and Levi Bent-Lee take a stab at the restaurant business as they helm Bent, but the rest of the family isn’t too far away: Susur runs the kitchen, while their mother, Brenda Bent-Lee, is responsible for the restaurant’s design. Read our Introducing post »
  • The Food Dudes’ Food Truck—Adrian Niman (of The Food Dudes catering company, and formerly of North 44) ventures out into the world of food trucks to bring “food-driven entertainment” to dudes and, uh, everyone else too. Read our Introducing post »
  • Museum TavernAn incredibly well-stocked ode to the great American bar has opened up across from the ROM. Read our Introducing post »
  • Sanagan’s Meat LockerOne deli replaces another in Kensington Market, as Sanagan’s takes over the old locale of European Quality Meats and Sausages (Hooked will be moving into the recently vacated Sanagan’s space). Read our Introducing post »
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