New launches and grand reopenings add to the feeling of revitalization as Toronto emerges from a tough few years. From boundary-pushing fare that connects to Canada’s culinary roots to menus that deepen our knowledge of Italian cooking, these are Toronto’s must-book restaurants right now.
Osteria Giulia (Yorkville)
With Osteria Giulia, acclaimed chef Rob Rossi and restaurateur David Minicucci give Toronto more of the sophisticated Italian fare that won them widespread accolades for their first restaurant, Giulietta, with this October opening. Rossi brings his refined culinary touch to northern Italian fare, with dishes ranging from handmade picagge pasta tossed in a rich rabbit ragu to a beautifully grilled rack of lamb seasoned with wild fennel and sea salt. Be sure to start with an order of the focaccia di recco, a deliciously simple flatbread that’s baked in specialty copper pans and stuffed with stracchino cheese.
Neon Tiger (Annex)
The new sibling spot—opened in December—to much-loved Korean restaurant OddSeoul draws influence from across Asia for its shareable dishes. Fans of OddSeoul will recognize a few familiar favourites on the menu, including the squash poutine, a Canada-meets-Korea mashup featuring tempura squash, cheese curds, curried gravy, and roasted kimchi. Cocktails also play with varied, Asian-inspired flavours and many feature housemade ingredients such as lotus-infused vodka. Like OddSeoul, Neon Tiger is as big on vibes as it is on taste. True to its name, the three-storey space is decorated with moody neon lighting while head-bopping R&B and hip-hop beats provide the soundtrack.
Pétros82 (Entertainment District)
After its original location in Hotel X shuttered during the early days of the pandemic, Pétros82 reincarnated in February in an equally stunning new venue in the Entertainment District. Like the original restaurant, the second iteration of Pétros82 serves up traditional Greek fare with an emphasis on seafood. The new space features a “seafood market,” where diners can choose their own fresh shellfish, whole fish, and oysters. The menu also brings back numerous popular dishes, including a few that are inspired by the recipes of owner Peter Eliopoulos’s grandmother. Pétros82’s new two-storey home features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Adelaide Street. The relaxed ambiance and white-washed decor aim to evoke Greek coastal vibes. Opt for the My Mother’s Table experience for a special chef- and sommelier-curated dinner that offers a taste of the restaurant’s seasonal menu highlights.
Trattoria Milano (Yonge & Bloor)
Launched in February 2020, Trattoria Milano barely had a chance to open its doors before facing a series of indoor dining shutdowns amid the pandemic. The restaurant is now taking a second crack at introducing Toronto to Milan’s soul-warming fare. Dishes such as the signature risotto allo zafferano—a rich bone marrow broth risotto finished with Parmigiano Reggiano—and cotoletta alla milanese (breaded, bone-in veal chop) are paired with a lengthy selection of northern Italian wines and multiple riffs on the Negroni cocktail. Located on the second floor of Eataly Toronto, the inviting restaurant feels completely separate from the busy vibes of the massive marketplace.
Ration: Beverley (Queen West)
Ration: Beverley, opened in November, is an innovative new restaurant on the main floor of the Beverley Toronto hotel that takes inspiration from pre-colonial Canadian cooking traditions. Chef Jef Edwards and his culinary team make regular foraging trips to source ingredients and experiment with preservation techniques to create dishes such as potatoes pickled in spruce vinegar or koji-aged duck breast. The result is a bold culinary adventure from start to finish, framed by large glass windows at the front of the space against dark walls accented by greenery that exudes a hip, contemporary vibe.
Don Alfonso 1890 (St. Clair West)
Don Alfonso 1890 was recently recognized as the Best Italian Restaurant in the World by the 50 Top Italy, a global listing of the top Italian restaurants. It’s the latest in a long line of awards for the Toronto outpost of award-winning chefs Alfonso and Ernesto Iaccarino’s series of high-end restaurants. Many of the artfully plated dishes pay homage to the original Don Alfonso restaurant, which is located on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, while others bring Mediterranean flair to homegrown ingredients. For the full experience, order the eight-course tasting menu with wine pairings. Located in the conservatory of the historic Casa Loma mansion, the restaurant’s white marble and brass accents are complemented by a gorgeous stained glass dome ceiling.