Little Italy is one of the most beloved neighbourhoods in the city. It attracts people from every walk of life with its popular restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and stores. There is so much to do at every turn without overwhelming its visitors and locals.
It mostly stretches along Toronto’s College Street where many sidewalk patios make the street one of the most exciting to walk down in the city. Little Italy is a place where you can discover the best restaurants, bars, cafes and cultural institutions and experience Italian culture.
Though it is a predominantly Italian neighbourhood as the name suggests, there are also Portuguese, Spanish, and Vietnamese population. They contribute to the area’s culture with their own and elevate the neighbourhood while mimicking Toronto’s culturally diverse scene.
What to eat?
There's something for everyone in Little Italy, apparent from the cross-section of young people in fancy dresses, and elderly couples arm-in-arm heading to their favourite wine or pasta spot. Cafes spill onto the wide sidewalks, pool lounges and bars are always teeming with noise and activity, and both outdoor and indoor marketplaces are packed with fresh fish, cured meats, and pungent cheeses. All of the activity makes it a perfect spot for people-watching, especially over a nice glass of red wine or a quick and delicious slice of pizza at one of the many eateries or trattorias in the area. Now let’s look at our favourites in the area.
Bitondo Pizzeria has been serving wonderful Italian pizza and panzerotti in the neighbourhood since the 1970s. It's an antique, teeny-tiny pizzeria with orange chairs, Brio bottles, and olive jars all around. It is a charming and authentic space that feels quaint and warm.
Cafe Diplomatico is another Italian staple in the neighbourhood. It has been a popular gathering spot for Italians with over the patio for coffee, biscotti, and gelato since the 1960s. They feature draft beer and Italian food specials, as well as customisable pasta and pizza. Breakfast is also available seven days a week.
Bar Isabel is only one of several good bars and eateries in the region. In Little Italy, it's a Spanish-influenced restaurant with an authentic old European atmosphere. They specialize in Spanish food and provide a variety of artisan beers, wines, and cocktails.
Bar Isabel is the sister of Bar Raval, a popular bar with delicious cuisine and drinks. The pub includes communal standing tables and interesting woodwork that sets it apart from other bars. In 2018, they were named the Best Bar in Canada.
If you prefer a fine dining experience, you can go to Bella Vista Trattoria & Wine Bar. Their friendly staff prepare each meal with the best ingredients. They also have a range of wine collection to make your delicious meal perfect.
What to do?
After done eating delicious Italian food, you can go ahead and walk around George Ben Park or the Fred Hamilton Playground, a larger green space nearby, it is the legacy of Italian immigrants with bocce courts and a lovely wildflower garden.
The Little Italy neighbourhood also has a public library located at Shaw Street with a nice view of College Street. It is a small library with a children’s section and computer stations. Shaw Street public library has also a summer book club, magic shows, and movie screenings for kids.
If you are a fan of live music, Mod Club Theatre would be ideal for you. They have various events including DJ nights and live concerts in different genres like rock, pop, and electronic music. Mod Club was established in 1999 as a weekly nightclub. Now it hosts up to 600 guests and has state of the art audio systems.
There is also an Italian Walk of Fame in the neighbourhood. It is located at the sidewalk on the north side of College Street. This walk of fame acknowledges the achievements and success of famous Italian persons and stars.