Boom Breakfast and Co.

 808 College Street
(416) 534-3447
new location at 1036 St. Clair West
(416) 657-3447

Boom is a trendy and comfortable breakfast joint along the College West strip at Ossington, just at the cusp of Little Italy and in the St. Clair/Oakwood neighbourhood. The Little Italy location looks like a classy but trendy diner with a old fashioned looking bar and nice 4 seater booths for privacy. In addition to brunch, they also serve “lunch and dinner” items like pasta, salad, burgers, and many veggie options.

As Boom is know for brunch, and having been opened for 2 years, we decided to go in a group (me, Justine, Pam, and Bryan). Pam ordered the Eggs Florentine and thought it was excellent. It came with very tasty homefries and a bit of fruit. Price and portion size were adequate. She thought service was excellent and the decor was modern & cozy. I liked the booths! Also, very clean looking.

Justine had the chocolate chip pancakes and thought they were somewhat tasty. She felt that they could have been a bit lighter and more fluffy (3’s Company is much better). She liked the egg decor on all the walls and the big egg near the entrance….She thought it was very playful. Justine found the prices to be very reasonable (under $6 for her pancakes. She thought the portion size for her pancakes were very good. She enjoyed the nice ambience…Booths made the place very casual and loungy, but they also had the bar area that had blue tiles as a backsplash and classy wooden tabletops…There was a mix of casual and upscale trendy. She thought it was nice to keep all types of people happy (the casual, laid back kind of person and the more yuppy type).

Bryan had the Tuscan eggs: poached eggs, grilled tomato on rye bread, fruit on the side. He enjoyed it, tasted fresh, light, and eggs were properly cooked. The price was standard. Ambience was fun and modern, upbeat and friendly. He liked the booths. The decor was simple and tasteful but not exceptional. He loved the College West location.

My order was a slight disappointment, unless you are anorexic of course. I ordered had the very berry crepe, which was light, thin, and full of fruit (stawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries). It came with a chocolate drizzle and it was excellent. I was disappointed because I asked the waitress if she could recommend something filling (Chocolate Chip Pancakes versus the Very Berry Crepe) and she recommended the crepes. Well, she was wrong. The crepe was tiny and I was not satisfied at all. Justine was generous to share her Chocolate Chip pancakes which were thick and delicious.

Open daily from 6:00am. Accepts all cards. Accessible on the College street streetcar (on College) and along the St. Clair streetcar (St. Clair location) and the Oakwood/Ossington bus.

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Sicilian Ice Cream Company

710 College St.
416 531-7716

 

In the heart of Little Italy, The Sicilian Ice Cream Company has been serving delicious home-made ice cream, for close to 40 years. The ice cream comes in traditional Italian flavours, such as nocciola, zabaione and baccio as well as the “classics” (chocolate, vanilla). The ice creams are made with milk, with the exception of the Lemon Ice and Raspberry Ice, both of which are fat free and non-dairy. Try the tiramisu flavour, a delicious combination of Italy’s two most famous deserts!

– Erin Toole

Utopia

On a strip where overpriced and underwhelming is the norm, Utopia stands a cut above the rest. Serving up a wide variety of sandwiches including burgers and burritos for reasonable prices, Utopia’s small dining room is constantly packed with patrons. The quasi hippy mood mixed with the hustle and bustle service lends to a vibrant and trendy atmosphere perfect for a quick and delicious bite.

Since my roomate and his girlfriend were touting this restaurant for over a year before I even tried it, it has since become a staple of my local take out food. Burrito choices are varied including chicken, lamb, shrimp, steak and vegetarian mixed with cooked onions, lettuce and a choice of monterey jack, chedder, goat, and feta cheese. Sandwiches are served a la carte or with a side of rice and beans. Meal sizes are sufficient and I have always been left satisted.

Little Italy has its fair share of uninspired eateries but smack dab in the middle Utopia continues to serve up fine sandwiches.

Cafe Diplomatico

 594 College Street,
416-534-4637

Located right in the heart of Little Italy at College , this place is a large coffee house, casual and unpretentious. Throughout the day tables fill with locals hanging out while having a coffee or traditional Italian dessert or meal. The walls are covered with kitschy art and in the summer, expect lineups as the outdoor terrace is quite popular

With traditional Italian pastry, ice cream, and ,meals, this place is a haven for University students and people who appreciate more affordable cuisine. I went with my parents (who appreciate fine cuisine at a decent price) for lunch on the weekend and they really enjoyed the fact that it was one of the only places in Little Italy that was affordable and unpretentious.

As it was quite chilly that fall afternoon, we opted to sit down in the large open-concept dining area by the window.

Serving traditional Italian dishes like pasta, thin crust pizza, Italian soups, Italian salads, traditional Italian desserts like canoli (which my mum ordered) , and appetizers (antipasto), the menu also includes Greek salads, as well as burgers, Mexican quesadilas, onion rings, and French fries.

My dad ordered the hamburger and French fries and he said it was great (he said it was juicy and delicious). My mum ordered the traditional Italian minestrone soup with noodles, beans, and vegetables in a tomato broth. I ordered the HUGE vegetarian antipasto dish (a HUGE platter of artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, spicy olives, three slices of a mild Italian cheese, and spicy eggplant, for $7.95). The dish was very filling and excellent. They have a medley of other vegetarian dishes like gnocchi, penne, rigatoni, pizza, and a variety of salads. Each pasta dish is served and you can choose from a variety of 20 different types of sauces.

Accepts all cards, open very late, can be very crowded on Thurs/Fri/Sat and even Sunday nights. Expect lineups on the weekend. Can be loud and noisy so students should not come to study there (even though the food is affordable). Excellent, attentive service, good prices, open 7 days per week 8:00am-2:00am.

Urban Thai

638 College St.
416- 535- THAI

Wendy, Daniel, Faline and I went last week for dinner to Urban Thai, located right in the heart of Little Italy at College and Grace. Part of the Friendly Thai/Just Thai chain of restaurants Daniel and I immediately recognized the identical look of the menu and pricing. We asked the waiter for a confirmation and he told us that Urban Thai is not affiliated with Urban Thai Bistro in the Beaches but is part of the Just Thai and The Friendly Thai franchise.

I ordered the vegetarian hot and sour soup. It was fabulous. The portion was OK for $6.95 but the flavour, and the consistency of mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and tofu and the broth made it wonderful. I truly hope it was really vegetarian. For my entree, I ordered the coconut cashew stir fry with tofu vegetables, in a VERY salty coconut sauce with pieces of sauteed tofu. It was very good, saucy, but very salty. Wendy ordered the Thai basil chicken which she thought was thoroughly yummy. Faline ordered the Thai salmon with noodles and vegetables. Daniel ordered the Green Curry Beef dish. He felt that the curry sauce base was great, but the meat was over cooked and rather chewy. The spring roll appetizers were excellent.

Entrees are from $7.95-$10.95. Appetizers are about $5.95-$7.95.Some appetizers include the spring rolls ($3.95), fresh salad rolls ($5.95), Thai calamari ($6.95), spicy thai mussels ($8.95), satay (skewers of beef, chicken, or tofu) ($3.95/$.95/$5.95), coconut shrimp ($11.95), and Thai chicken wings ($7.95)

Soups include the Hot and Sour soup ($6.95), Coconut Chicken ($6.95), Thai mushroom ($5.95), and Lemon shrimp ($7.95). Salads include the Urban Thai Green ($5.95), Spicy Shrimp ($8.95), Green Mango ($7.95), Chili Beef ($7.95).

Pasta dishes include the typical Pad Thai ($8.95-$12.95) depends on ingrediants. You can choose from vegetarian, chicken, seafood, or a chicken/vegetarian curry Pad Thai, Urban Spicy Thai Noodles, and Glass Noodles (both $9.95)

Rice dishes include the Vegetarian, Urban Thai fried rice, Shrimp Olive, Pineapple Fried, Coconut Rice, Fragrant Sticky, and Jasmine between $1.50-$9.95

Beef dishes include Beef with Oyster Sauce, Mango Red Beef Curry, Green Curry beef, Urban Thai Basil Beef, and Grilled Thai Steak (all $11.95). Most of the menu seems to be chicken. Dishes include the Thai Grilled Chicken, Ginger Chicken, Thai Mango Chicken, Red Curry Chicken, Green Curry Chicken, Golden Curry Chicken, Lemongrass Chicken, Savoury Cashew Chicken, and Thai Basil Chicken (all $9.95-$12.95). They all come with an assortment of stir fried vegetables.

Seafood includes the Garlic Pepper Shrimp, Crispy Shrimp with Lychee, Pineapple Red Curry Shrimp, Golden Curry Shrimp, Ginger-Tamarind Fish, and lastly the Seafood combination ($17.95). Most seafood dishes are $12.95-$14.95. Lamb includes the Thai Ginger Lamb, Red Curry Lamb, and Garlic Pepper Lamb (all $12.95).

Vegetarian dishes include the Thai Eggplant ($7.95), the cliche Vegetarian curry ($8.95), Lychee Lemongrass Tofu ($8.95), Tofu Goreng ($8.95), Coconut Cachew Tofu and Vegetables ($9.95), Urban Mango Tofu ($9.95), and the Avocado Peanut Stir Fry ($9.95). I ordered the Avocado Peanut Stir Fry at Just Thai a few months ago and it was fabulous.

As with many Thai restaurants, there are a few Malaysian dishes. The most economically valuable includes the Satay Combo which I’ve had several times at Diners Thai on the Danforth and The Friendly Thai on Queen West and Yonge street. The Satay Plate is HUGE. It includes 4 skewers of spicy meat, tofu, and seafood served with stir fried vegetables and peanut sauce. The dish is VERY affordable as it is a complete meal. It comes with steamed rice, grilled pita, or roti ($9.95-$12.95). Lastly there are 4 Malaysian curries to try (Chicken, Beef, Shrimp, or Lamb)for $10.95 – $11.95.

Service and presentation is really nice and wait time is not too long. Food is made to order. They accept every card

Sneaky Dees

When I first received an email suggesting going to Sneaky Dees for half priced fajita night, my initial reaction was? that shithole?!?!? My only previous experiences at this bar cum music venue cum restaurant were relegated to very distantly separate but excellent concerts and some sporadic binge drinking nights. With the dark atmosphere and graffiti covering everything from the walls to the tables, this place defines the term ?watering hole?. I had heard that the brunch was decent here but it never occurred to me that any other meal would be near palatable. However, after conferring with a few Sneaky Dee fanatics I realized I had potentially been missing out on a rarely publicized Toronto tradition.

Tex Mex cuisine is constantly looked down in haute cuisine circles and can regularly end up the butt of many a Hooters reference. The fajitas at Sneaky Dees however are no joke. As servers rush out of the kitchen holding a plate of steaming food the restaurant packed with a downtown crowd who have obviously taken part in this ritual before heaves in anticipation. The decibel level is certainly high causing one to strain to carry on a conversation. When the food arrives all attention is diverted to eating. Choices of chicken, steak, shrimp, vegetable or any combination thereof are available for consumption. The steaming hot plate comes complete with refried beans, a variety of vegetables, fried rice, and topped with the main meat or veggie filling. Bowls of salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and tomatoes are available for toppings to add to the white flour wraps which come in a heat encompassing container. The only regular fajita topping that appears to be missing is the cheese. Is Sneaky Dees subject to the same bylaw not allowing Toronto hot dog vendors to serve cheese in their somewhat crusty environment? Disregarding this minor aberration, the chicken and steak fajita is fantastic and a large order satiates my party of three. At $14.95 on the Tuesday half price night, I come away with a deliciously refreshed perspective on an old establishment and a newly ordained ritual to further integrate myself into the downtown west culture.

Il Gatto Nero

656 College St
Phone: 416-536-3132

 

On my quest to find vegetarian, low carb, low fat, low sugar, and high fibre food, I must admit that it was a difficult task when my friend Daniel and I set out to eat dinner in Little Italy last Friday night. I could only think of two dishes we would encounter : pasta or pizza. I was hoping that there would be some nice place that would serve something different. We started at College and Palmerston and browsed the menus outside of each and every restaurant along the Little Italy stretch (I am referring to the Little Italy along College Street between Bathurst and Ossington, not the Little Italy along St. Clair west.

When we approached Crawford, we gave up (we were hungry and desperate) and walked into Il Gatto Nero, a cool, funky cafe/bar/bistro with an awesome 20 table outdoor patio. Inside the decor was gorgeous, cathedral ceilings, deep burgendy walls with hints of beige and nice art on the walls. It looked like a modern Italian bistro or Trattoria as Daniel said, very chiche, cool, and funky. The decor looked like an old style Italian bistro with prints you only see in Bistros.

Dimly lit, the atmosphere was really nice. Some people were very dressy, while others dressed down. Althought it felt trendy, it did not feel pretentious

Laid in hardwood floors, wood tables and chairs, a spectacular, large bar with a beautiful array of beers, wines, and liquors can be seen from the entrance. The place was crowded with hoards of people at the bar, almost resembling a casino. The only cheesy thing were the two big television screens and one large movie screen at the middle of the restaurant adjacent to the bar.

Mostly comprising wooden tables, Il Gatto Nero also had some extra high tables with bar stools. The ambiance was not calm and relaxing, but loud and chaotic, with a small non-smoking section (it was a bar afterall)

We quickly ordered our meals. The menu did not give me many vegetarian options. I saw one pasta dish and one spinelli (will explain later) and one pizza dish. I decided to order the vegetariano spinelli, a thin wrap filled with yucky goat cheese, grilled zucchini, tomatoes, organic greens, and grilled peppers ($9). Daniel ordered a sausage spinelli with an assortment of roasted vegetables($12). I have to admit that I was disappointed with the menu. There were not
enough vegetarian selections (only 1 of 2 pasta dishes and 1 pizza and 1 spinelli) but staff claim that any item on the menu can be made vegetarian

Staff were extra friendly, patient, and attentive. It is always good news to hear that they accept Interac, and VISA