Why we like it.
College St. between Bathurst and Dovercourt has been the heart of the Italian Community for decades, gaining the official designation in 1985. Bustling all week, things really heat up on the weekends when crowds descend to enjoy the many restaurants and bars and the vibrant nightlife. Many of the houses in the area have been owned by the same families since the 1950’s and 60’s, who pride themselves on having the most immaculately kept home on the block. Typically single family dwellings, there are listings with rental units or basement apartments, but you won’t find many condominium developments here.
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The Fish House
This tiny take-out shop has created what may be the best fish sandwich in Toronto, if not Ontario! Starting with super-fresh fish, loaded into a fresh Portuguese bun and piled high with lettuce, tomato, red onion and their secret dressing it’s the perfect blend of flavours in a guilt-free lunch.
Zane Caplansky started his smoked meat dream with a counter at the Monarch Tavern, and a few years later opened this slick, New-York-y deli a few blocks away. Along the way his meat found some fans in big-time food types, like Ruth Reichl, Joanne Kates and your Uncle Lenny. Pop in for a sandwich and see if you agree with all the fuss.
Wandering Chef Nick Liu finally has a kitchen to call his own, at the recently opened DaiLo. We love the look of this place, it reminds us of the cool Chinese restaurants we went to as kids, but with waaaay better food and updated cocktails.
Taco joints in this city have really improved over the past five years, moving from TexMex styles to something edgier. La Carnitas is almost always busy, since all of Toronto seems to be in line for their Mexican Street Corn and Carnita Tacos. Also, check out their website for some great mixtape downloads!
An enormous wood oven burns over 10,000 lbs. of wood per month, and cooks almost everything on the menu which ranges from classic French Onion soup to hearty mains with an emphasis on vegetarian dishes. While keeping all their diners well fed and happy, they also are busy making the best bread in the city which can be bought on-site or found at any number of good restaurants around town.
There are any number of spots along College to get a decent espresso or latte, after all the Italians invented coffee didn’t they?
Dark City and Pig Iron beans, brewed with a custom painted espresso machine. Grab a chair out front and watch the commuters cycle by while you soak up a few rays and enjoy your coffee.
This traditional Portugese bakery offers pastel de nata and cod fritters alongside coffee for a mid-morning snack, or a range of croissants, muffins and donuts if you prefer.
Set a tic north of College on Ossington, this adorable coffee shop serves up espressos and homemade pastries such as their own creation (and Toronto’s answer to the ‘Cronut’) the Crowbar. If the candybar-stuffed croissant isn’t your thing, try a Butter Coffee which is alleged to be healthiest way to get a kickstart for your day.
If you’re spending any amount of time in Little Italy, a drink on the heated patio at “The Dip” is a must. A bit tacky, always crowded, this College St. mainstay serves up breakfast, lunch, after-work drinks, dinner, and late-night fun.
Scattered with small markets, it’s easy enough to pick up groceries along College St. or you can head a few blocks east to nearby Kensington Market for more selection.
Metro is one of the largest grocery stores in the area; with parking in front and a Shoppers next door the weekly shop becomes manageable.
This cute little gourmet store has a good selection of groceries and treats to tempt, but it’s not the most budget friendly so be careful of what goes in the basket.
We love love love this little tchotchke shop full of letterpress cards, fun notebooks, retro mugs, delicious smelling candles, adorable earrings, organic body lotions…well you get the idea! A great spot to pick up gifts or a little pick-me-up.
We defy you to walk out of this store without buying new music! They always have something great playing that gets you absent-mindedly tapping your toe as you browse the vinyl selections and by the time you’re at the cash there’s one or two “must haves” in your hands.
Whether your an actual jet-setter or just a wannabe, Monocle Magazine has the intel to get you in the know. The Monocle shop is the most curated store we’ve ever seen, with an emphasis on the perfectly thought out item (crafted by a seventh generation artisan) that will improve your life by 150% or more.
The Candy Bar
Stocked with exotic chocolates and British classics, this sweet little shop has left us with a few tough choices – go for the Dutch licorice, a mix of gummi favourites, or try to pick from the selection of chocolate bars?
Italian Walk of Fame
Did you know that Toronto is home to the ONLY Italian Walk of Fame? For the past six years notable Italians have been memorialized along the north side of College St., and where else can hockey player Roberto Luongo rub elbows with crooner Dean Martin?
Built in 1939, this historic Art Moderne movie house has survived many close calls and survived the advent of the multiplex. Currently home to many of the city’s film festivals, during the day many well-know directors rent it out to edit their latest projects. Walk by at the right time and you might bump into Atom Egoyan (Chloe, Adoration), Deepa Mehta (Heaven on Earth), or Bruce McDonald (PontyPool, The Tracey Fragments).
The Big Chill
Ice cream is good for you right? What could be better for your health than a walk around the neighbourhood enjoying a cone on a warm summer evening? It’s guaranteed to bring down your blood pressure and increase your sense of well being.
Rating 8 – Clinton Street Junior Public School
Rating 7.6 – Montrose Junior Public School
Rating 7.6 – Harbord Collegiate Institute
Rating 7.5 – Bloor Collegiate Institute