Outstanding Greek Food at Mamakas Taverna

Mamakas TavernaLocation: 80 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://mamakas.ca/

I had an idea that Mamakas Taverna was probably something special when I tried their pork souvlaki at the recent OssFest street festival and was completely blown away.  I was finally able to visit the restaurant itself, and yeah.  Yeah.  That souvlaki wasn’t a fluke.  Everything is so good.

Mamakas Taverna

It’s the type of place where you order a bunch of stuff and share, which works out well because everything is so incredibly delicious that you want to try the whole menu.

Mamakas Taverna

There’s the spanakopita, which is basically the platonic ideal of that dish, with a crispy, buttery exterior and an intensely flavourful spinach filling.  The filling was actually quite unique, with a mildly sweet, citrusy tang that does a great job of balancing out the richness of the dish.

Mamakas Taverna

There were these keftedes — perfectly-spiced beef and pork meatballs with a delightfully crispy exterior from the fryer.

Mamakas Taverna

This looks like a pretty standard salad, but the meaty lentils combined with the fresh herbs and the nice pops of sweetness and crunch from the pomegranate — not to mention a dressing that complements it perfectly and isn’t over-applied — made it just as memorable as any of the other dishes.

Mamakas Taverna

The octopus was probably the simplest dish I tried, and proof that if you’re working with great quality ingredients and preparing them well, further ornamentation is unnecessary.  The meat had a great amount of char from the grill, with a mild sweetness and nice meaty bite.  If you’re queasy about eating octopus, you need to get over yourself; you don’t know what you’re missing.  Bad octopus can be rubbery and horrible, but good octopus is like the delicious love-child between a scallop and a pork chop.

Mamakas Taverna

My favourite dish of the night was also easily the least photogenic.  No, this braised short rib doesn’t look like much, but holy moly it was ridiculously good.  Insanely tender (but not mushy) with just the right amount of perfectly creamy fat and an intensely beefy flavour, it was basically like the best pot roast you’ve ever had.

Mamakas Taverna

The dessert — a walnut spice cake with yogurt mousse — was just as delicious as everything else, because of course it was.  The cake was nutty and rich, and the tartness of the creamy mousse complemented it perfectly.

Classic Comfort Food at Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese

Bobbie Sue's Mac + CheeseLocation162 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttps://bobbiesues.com/

The last time I tried Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese, I had the carbonara — it was absolutely delicious, but not exactly a traditional bowl of mac and cheese.  I figured I should probably try the real deal.

So I went back and tried the jalapeno and bacon, which is a classic mac and cheese with pickled jalapenos and cubes of bacon (which I’m pretty sure is the pancetta from the carbonara) mixed in.  This was a special, so it may or may not be on the menu when you visit.

Bobbie Sue's Mac + Cheese

It’s delicious.  The mac and cheese is abundantly rich and cheesey, with perfectly al dente pasta and a nice crispy top from the oven.  The meaty bacon and zippy jalapenos compliment it perfectly.

Bonus: the service was great.  I picked up my mac and cheese from the counter and then immediately dropped it on the sidewalk (and the plate landed face down, because of course it did).  The woman behind the counter witnessed this and quickly made me a new one free of charge, which was very much appreciated.

Surprisingly Tasty Carbonara at Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese

Bobbie Sue's Mac + CheeseLocation: 162 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://bobbiesues.com/

I was pretty much completely blown away by the carbonara at Bobbie Sue’s Mac + Cheese.  It wasn’t what I was expecting at all, but in all the best ways.

I sort of figured it was going to be some kind of bizarre mash-up of mac and cheese and carbonara, but it definitely wasn’t that.  It was actually a legit bowl of carbonara, and it was delightful.

Bobbie Sue's Mac + Cheese

The menu describes the carbonara as “pancetta + Grana Padano + egg yolk.” I really enjoyed it.

The diced pancetta (and yes, it was pancetta, as it should be — not bacon) was abundant and nicely crisped up — it was crispy, salty, and porky.  The sauce was rich and creamy from the egg yolks, with a nice cheesy kick from the Grana Padano (an Italian cheese that’s very similar to Parmesan).  And the pasta was perfectly al dente.

Bobbie Sue's Mac + Cheese

It was maybe slightly too dry, but aside from that it was shockingly good.  You’re barely expecting a bowl of carbonara from an actual Italian restaurant to be that delicious, let alone a mac and cheese take-out window that doesn’t have a seating area.  It’s a really delightful surprise.

Perfectly Crispy Cannoli at Holy Cannoli

Holy CannoliLocation: Follow them on Instagram to see where they’ll be
Website: https://www.holy-cannoli.com/

There’s nothing sadder than biting into a cannoli only to find that its would-be crispy exterior has been rendered soft and chewy by the ravages of time.

Holy Cannoli, which had a booth at the recent OssFest street festival, avoids this problem quite definitively by filling their cannoli shells to order.  This is clearly the way to do it.  I don’t know why every bakery doesn’t do it this way.

Holy Cannoli

So of course, the shell was nice and crispy, just as it should be.  It’s crispy but not overly crunchy — it’s basically the perfect cannoli shell.

You can choose from either chocolate chip or vanilla filling; I went with the latter, and it was creamy, sweet, and tasty.  Nothing about it particularly jumped out as being amazing, but it was a solid cannoli.

Mind-Blowing Souvlaki at Mamakas Taverna

Mamakas TavernaLocation: 80 Ossington Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://mamakas.ca/

Mamakas Taverna had a booth at the recent OssFest street festival on Ossington, serving up chicken and pork souvlaki.  It was almost improbably good.  Like, is the food at a street festival even allowed to be this good?  It was easily the best souvlaki I’ve ever had.

It’s simple enough — it features pita bread slathered with tsatziki, and topped with chunks of pork and tomatoes (onions are also an option, though I skipped those).

Mamakas Taverna

Every element here is amazing.  The pork is cooked on a spit over coals, giving it a nice smoky flavour.  It’s perfectly cooked and amazingly juicy.

They chop the pork up and toss it in some kind of magical, zesty sauce; little touches like this make all the difference.  The pork would have been perfectly delicious if they had just served it as-is, but that sauce kicks up its flavour, adds additional moisture, and elevates the wrap from good to great.

Mamakas Taverna

The creamy, mint-and-garlic-infused tzatziki is just as delicious as the pork, and complements it exceptionally well.  And the bread is the perfect vehicle — it’s fresh, a little bit chewy, and amazing.  The whole thing is exceptionally delicious.