Location: 55 Bloor Street West, Toronto (inside the Manulife Centre)
After years and years of speculation and hype, Eataly finally opened in Toronto last month; judging by the intense crowds, it’s a hit. Apparently there were lines just to get in for the first few weeks, and on a recent visit on Saturday, the place was absolutely packed.
So was it worth the wait? It’s hard to say based on one relatively brief visit, but I’m gonna say yeah, it was. It’s basically an enormous, high-end Italian grocery store crossed with a food hall. They sell all kinds of really interesting looking stuff, and all the food I tried was tasty. It’s delightful.
I tried a couple of things. First up was a pizza at La Pizza & La Pasta, a sit-down restaurant with a wood-burning oven that pumps out authentic Neapolitan pizzas.
The meal started with some seriously good-quality bread, which came with a bowl of intensely nutty olive oil for dipping.
As for the pizza, I had to try the margherita. As I’ve said before, I think it’s one of the world’s few perfect foods. It’s also a great way to judge the quality of a pizza joint; its simplicity puts the technique of the kitchen in full display. There’s no fancy ingredients to hide behind.
The version they serve here didn’t blow me away — the crust was slightly lacking in substance and flavour — but it was a solid B+. In particular, the pizza had a perfect amount of char from the blazing hot oven. The person manning the oven clearly knows what he’s doing.
Just around the corner from the restaurant is Il Gelato Artigianale, which has a whole bunch of tasty-looking flavours of gelato on offer. I went with stracciatella, and I quite enjoyed it.
I found it a bit overly sweet at first, but the combo of the sweet ice cream and the very bitter chocolate (they’re definitely using a darker chocolate than the norm) won me over. And the gelato itself is nice and creamy, even if it was slightly on the thin side.