Hey Meatball!’s Rodfather sandwich is made with pork meatballs.
75 Portland, at King W, 416-599-2822, buca.ca, @bucatoronto Behind the anonymous facade of a first-floor condo storefront lies the biggest thing to hit the King West strip since half-price wings at the Wheat Sheaf. The cachet of the original trat will get them in the door, but Rob Gentile's moderately priced Tuscan-style tapas and all-day kitchen open seven days a week till 2 am will make them regulars. If they can get in, of course. Best: bruschetta dressed with duck yolk, beech mushrooms and shaved black truffle; crisp baby artichokes with lemony zabaglione custard; house-baked focaccia panini with virgin mozzarella and preserved cherry tomatoes, or porchetta with apple mostardo; goat 'n' ricotta meatballs in tomato sauce studded with raisins; at brunch, pork-blood crepes with chocolate-coated figs and buffalo-milk crème anglaise; semolina pancakes layered with lemony mascarpone, crumbled pistachio and candied citrus in grappa-fortified maple syrup. Complete dinners for $40 per person (lunches $30), including tax, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $10. Open daily from 11 am to 2 am; coffee and pastries from 7 am. Closed some holidays. No reservations. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
974 College, at Rusholme, 416-532-7424, blackskirtrestaurant.com Rosa Gallé and Aggie Decina bring old-school rustic Italiana back to the former Little Italy. A charming room, engaging service and a no-nonsense card of Sicilian home-cooking classics add up to a trip back to a simpler time. Best: to start, grilled and skewered lamb speducci; meaty white Sicilian anchovies and garlicky chopped tomato crostini; grilled lamb speducci; pressed muffuletta panini with tapenade, capicola, mortadella, sweet and hot soppressata and giardiniere pickles; veal sandwiches in Decina-family tomato ragu with Provolone and grilled hot banana peppers; spicy penne putanesca with capers, olives, garlic and anchovies; grilled New Zealand lamb chops with cheesy baked mashed potatoes and rapini; textbook tiramisu and pistachio cannoli. Complete dinners for $50 per person (lunches $25), including tax, tip and a glass of Chianti. Average main $25/$13. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 10 pm; lunch from 10 am, dinner from 5 pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, some holidays. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNN
912 Queen E, at Logan, 647-340-6439, heymeatball.com, @TeamHeyMeatball One-time Rosebud and Citizen owner/chef Rodney Bowers moves slightly down-market with an upscale takeaway devoted entirely to meatballs, whether naturally raised Rowe Farms beef or pork, free-range Gasparro's chicken or house-made vegan veggie. Slick design, creative sides and a kid-friendly card mean lineups come suppertime. Also: 719 College, at Crawford, 416-546-1483. Best: the signature Rodfather sandwich, three hefty 'balls on grilled Boulart baguette finished with simple tomato sauce and powdered parmigiano; Eastender subs, Newfie takes on Halifax donairs with slow-braised roast beef, smoked provolone and grilled poblano peppers; retro macaroni and cheese; old-school spaghetti and meatballs; chopped salads of pickled carrot and radicchio over organic greens; cheesy sautéed Brussels sprouts. Complete meals for $18, including tax, tip and a house-made soda. Average main $12. Open daily 11:30 am to 9 pm; daily 11:30 am to 10 pm (College). Closed some holidays. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free; two steps at door, washrooms in basement (College). Rating: NNNN