Dinner Saturday night, brunch Sunday morning.
832 Dundas W, at Euclid, 416-364-4785, campagnolotoronto.com, @Campagnolo_ Housed in an abandoned Coffee Time franchise, former Four chef de cuisine Craig Harding and partner Alexandra Hutchison’s way-casual 66-seat bistro plus 30-seat patio brings Mediterranean glam to this otherwise charmingly dumpy strip. Don’t have a reservation for one of the hottest joints du jour? Since they only book half the room, your chances of scoring a walk-in are 50-50. Best: to start, baskets of house-baked baguette and all-air gougères with whipped butter starters like fresh burrata with roasted olive-oil-soaked grapes on the vine roasted bone marrow with shredded oxtail and plum marmalade substantial mains like house-made tagliatelle Bolognese tossed with minced veal and duck liver Spaghetti all’Amatriciana laced with dried pork-cheek guanciale and sharp pecorino cheese Norwegian ocean trout over smoked cauliflower purée, sautéed bitter rapini and mild-mannered espelette peppers to conclude, espresso meringue finished with salted caramel sauce. Complete dinners for $55 per person, including tax, tip and a cocktail. Average main $24. Open for dinner Saturday 6 pm to midnight. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN
1262 Danforth, at Greenwood, 416-778-1388 Jean and Harry Seow (Rasa Sayang, Sawasdee) return from retirement – for the third time! – with their swankiest resto yet. This unexpectedly upscale 30-seat room, all caramel-coloured walls, sleek banquettes and beaming Buddha on the bar, now comes with an exclusively Southeast Asian vegetarian card. Bonus: everything on the menu is available in vegan versions. Best: to start, tightly wrapped rice-paper rolls deep-fried in canola oil, packed with cellophane noodles, raw carrot threads and crunchy ribbons of cloud ear Golden Baskets, a tiny quintet of brittle pastry shells brimming with garden-fresh peas, corn, carrots and diced organic tofu mains like pad kee mau, a ketchup-free take on pad thai thick with cauliflower and broccoli, basil and convincing faux shrimp sides like Japanese eggplant with sweet peppers bitter mustard greens in garlic to finish, deep-fried bananas in honeyed batter. Complete dinners for $30 per person, including tax, tip and a pot of jasmine green tea. Average main $10. Open for dinner Saturday 5 to 10 pm. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNNN
1 Richmond W, at Yonge, 647-748-1444, richmondstation.ca, @richmondstn After winning season two of Top Chef Canada last February, ex-Marben toque Carl Heinrich returns with an upscale farm-to-table bistro in the financial district. A timeless room, informed friendly service and Heinrich’s inimitable way with comfort food classics make reservations near-essential. Best: from the all-day menu, start with co-owner Ryan Donovan’s exceptional charcuterie, spicy beef heart salami with juniper-scented lamb terrine, deep-fried headcheese and shredded duck rillettes, say polenta fries with smoky bomba mayonnaise and marinara sauce the Station burger stuffed with juicy shredded short rib on a house-baked bun dressed with aged local cheddar and sweet beet relish, skinny fries and a roasted radish salad on the side Perth County wild boar ragu over house-made orecchiette tossed with sautéed mushrooms and Monforte Dairy Toscano to finish, pastry chef Farzan Fallah’s deconstructed pumpkin pie topped with whipped butterscotch mousse and walnut brittle. Complete dinners for $50 per person (lunches $35), including tax, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $24/$20. Open for dinner Saturday 5 to 10:30 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, eight steps to washrooms. Rating: NNNNN
92 Ossington, at Humbert, 416-537-0134, deluxrestaurant.ca, @deluxrestaurant Corrina Mozo’s popular Ossington bistro puts a Franco-Cuban spin on the most important meal of the day. A retro glam rock soundtrack, quick, efficient servers and a second room out back help ease the inevitable wait for a table. Avoid the booths unless you’re exceptionally slim. Best: to start, baked-to-order buttermilk donuts and dulce de leche chantilly baskets of crunchy conch fritters follow with picadillo hash – Quebec duck confit, duck-fat-fried potatoes and sweet red peppers with capers, green olives and raisins, real-deal Moros y Cristianos black beans ‘n’ rice, smashed plantain tostones and two sunny-side-up eggs layered over top French toast with house-baked challah, bananas and maple syrup signature grilled Cubano sandwiches of cider-cured pork shoulder, sliced deli ham and gooey Gruyère, sided Havana-style with chunky frites and a whack o’ watercress. Complete brunches for $30 per person, including tax, tip and a mojito. Average main $12. Open for brunch Sunday 10:30 am to 3 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNN
688 Gerrard E, at Degrassi, 416-778-5948 No relation to the late Mimi’s on Bathurst, this spic-and-span Vietnamese resto (not only are the tables covered in plastic, but they’re glass-topped as well) is an enduring family-run spot with a lengthy lineup of straightforward yet complex fare. Warning: a mid-sized room, it’s often packed at peak dining hours. Best: to start, sizable rice-paper-wrapped spring rolls dressed with lengths of green onion sticking out one end and stuffed with pork or shrimp all-in-one rice vermicelli pho soups with the likes of barbecued chicken, beef or pork lightly deep-fried minced shrimp on intensely sweet sugar cane with rice-paper roll-ups loaded with leaf lettuce, raw bean sprouts, shredded daikon and carrot dusted with crushed peanuts boneless grilled chicken leg over steamed rice topped with salty shredded pork and a tasty wedge of Saigon-style quiche to drink, durian milkshakes. Complete dinners for $30 per person (lunches $18), including tax, tip and an imported beer. Average main $10/$8. Open Sunday 11 am to 10 pm. No reservations. Licensed. Cash only. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
188 Augusta, at Denison Sq, 647-343-6647, pizzeriaviamercanti.ca, @Via_Mercanti Sorry, Libretto. And you, too, Terroni. But Toronto’s best pizza can be found at this surprisingly spacious parlour in the wilds of Kensington Market. Helmed by ex-Queen Margherita pizzaiolo Romolo Salvati – an actual Neapolitan! – this low-key trat is in a league of its own. Can’t do a whole pie on your own? At lunch, an 8-inch pizza and a small salad go for 10 bucks! Best: to start, bocconcini di pizza, miniature pizza rolls stuffed with prosciutto or fresh fior di latte cheese follow with the extraordinary Via Mercanti, two pizzas in one – a beautifully blistered, thin-crusted pie dressed with prosciutto crudo, spicy soppressata, fresh buffalo ricotta and ‘shrooms, with a second San Marzano-sauced Margherita welded on top sautéed garlicky rapini and crumbled house-made sausage sided with warm focaccia, a veritable DIY pizza vegetarian eggplant parmigiano to finish, old-school tiramisu. Complete dinners for $30 per person (lunches $20), including tax, tip and a glass of vino. Average main $13/$10. Open Sunday from noon to 10 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNNN