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.

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


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,

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

Utopia Cafe and Grill

586 College
(416) 534-7751

A whole mish mash of food awaits you at Utopia, a small cafe and bistro with a funky name, located right in the heart of Little Italy. They serve a variety of dishes from Grilled Angus Sirloin to Half Roast Chicken to Veggie Burritos to a Hamburger served with goat, swiss, and cheese and eggplant, zucchini, and roasted red peppers.

Wine is served by the glass and there is a large variety to choose from. Staff are very friendly and there is an exposed kitchen so you can see the cook prepare most dishes.

It seems most of the menu consists of quesadilas and burritos with interesting fillings. Some of those fillings are inspired from Mexican, Italian, and Indian cuisine. I enjoyed the quesadilla with pesto, cheddar & monterey jack cheese, salsa, and sauteed portobello mushrooms. It came with a side order of coleslaw or field mix salad and rice & black beans (I chose coleslaw and field mix salad) .

They are very considerate and accomodating to vegetarians. The waiter told me straight out that they are considerate and accomodating to vegetarians since the owner is vegetarian and they could always make substitutions. I was relieved. The waiter asked me what I wanted to avoid and I told him. He gave me the various options of vegetarian dishes on the menu and there were many.

They serve many burritos and quesadillas with soy protein or tofu and they told me that they could make anything vegetarian. I was also happy that when I asked for a diet Coke, they asked me if I wanted a regular size or a large. Most places like to charge more so they assume you want large, thus charging you more. Some burritos and quesadilas include the Grilled Lamb Burrito (that’s what Daniel ordered), Steak Burrito , Grilled Chicken Burrito ,Grilled Sausage Burrito, Curried Chickpea & Potato Burrito ,Grilled Vegetable Burrito ,Chicken Goat Cheese Burrito. Some quesadilas included the White Bean & Tofu Quesadilla ,Grilled Eggplant Quesadilla ,Mushroom & Pesto Quesadilla , Chicken Quesadilla , and the Steak Quesadilla.

They also serve a variety of hamburgers like the Utopia Burger (a burger with the works plus goat, swiss and cheddar cheeses, grilled eggplant, zucchini, roasted red peppers and sauteed mushrooms), Swiss and Mushroom ,Mediterranean Burger (lettuce, tomato, Bermuda onion, tzatziki and feta cheese ), Grilled Bison Burger , Homemade Chicken Burger , Homemade Charbroiled Burger , and of course the Veggie burger.

Sandwiches include the Vegetarian Souvlaki (with soy protein!), Chicken Breast Sandwich , N.Y. Sirloin Sandwich , Grilled Chicken Club , Baked Chicken & Pesto , Grilled Veggie Sandwich , Spicy Italian Sausage Sandwich , Grilled Tuna Sandwich , Smoked Salmon Sandwich , Tandoori Chicken Sandwich , and the Pesto, Mushroom and Asiago Cheese sandwich. All dishes are served with field mix salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Sandwiches range from $8.00-$9.00

Service was very slow but the ambiance was great. Covered in beautiful abstract artwork that is for sale, exposed brick, dim lighting, exposed kitchen, tables spread out throughout the cafe in front, and a beautiful back terrace that is half enclosed, half exposed, this place is definitely on my “A” list of places to come back and eat. They also serve a weekend brunch from 12pm-4pm. Some brunch dishes include the Chicken Pesto & Cheddar Cheese Omelette , Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Goat Cheese Omelette , Smoked Salmon & Swiss Omelette , Utopia Scramble (three scrambled eggs served with sausage and home fried potatoes), the traditional Steak & Eggs, Daily Quiche served with a field mix salad and a balsamic vinaigrette, and other dishes like the breakfast burrito with bacon or sausage.

Even though most dishes are beef, chicken, lamb, or sausage, there are many vegetarian options for the fussiest and strictest of vegetarians like myself. Prices are between $8.95-$15.95 for dinner and $6.00-$9.00 for weekend brunch. The only drawback to Utopia was the long long long long wait. I would definitely go back, though. They accept Interac and VISA.


546 College Street West
(416) 923-4138

Located right in the heart of Little Italy, at College near Grace, this wonderful cafe and bistro can be described as very “Toulouse-Lautrec”. Kalendar resembles a scene from the movie Moulin Rouge or the setting of some of Annie Lennox music videos. When you enter this place, you go back in time to an old 1880’s cafe.

The place is gorgeous with lots of varnished mahogney or oak furniture, an old bar with a large assortment of wines, liquors, and mixed drinks. There are two disinct dining halls separated by this central bar, which acts as the hub of the restaurant. One dining hall is quite small. It contains about 7 tables and the bar resides on this side. The other dining hall looks like an old fashioned restaurant with many more tables. The kitchen is in the basement so you never see them cooking. The menu is very limited and I would describe the cuisine of funky Indian or Fusion or Italian. They mostly have Indian cuisine but they also serve some Italian dishes like pizza and pasta and Belgium fare like mussels.
On this two page menu, I ordered a scroll number two. This scroll was essentially a wrap made of Roti (like Chapati or Poori or Nan bread) with hummus, grilled peppers, grilled artichokes, grilled eggplant, and herbed mayonnaise (hold the Mayonnaise- yuck!)

My friend ordered Scroll one which was a chicken variety with some vegetables. Both our scrolls came in two sizes ($8.95 small and $12.95 large) and we ordered the larges sizes with a vegetable salad with a balsamic viniagrette.

I ordered a Diet Coke for a drink and he ordered some dark beer that looked like Coke. Tables are small and people are kind of squashed together in the smaller dining room. I did take a look at the large dining room and it was beautiful. With art on the walls, dim lighting, mahogney or cherry wood furniture and wood panelling, this place was definitely the place to be on a Saturday night.

The only problem was that the menu was so little. It seems that they only have trendy funky Indian cuisine with a couple of Italian dishes (well, this place is in Little Italy, right?)

Brass Taps Pizza Pub

 495 Danforth Av (416) 466-3403
157 Roncesvalles Avenue – (416) 536-6678
221 Carlton Street – (416) 966-9440
934 College St. (416) 533-4333

Some places specialize in specific type of food. Brass Taps is a toned down, casual version to Il Fornello. If you decide to dine at Brass Taps, don’t go for the burgers, wraps, or pub fare, since it’s just mediocre. Go for the gourmet pizza and the excellent Sunday brunch.

Centrally located in Greektown at Danforth and Logan and on the cusp of Little Italy at College and Ossington, this pub is known for its gourmet pizza (many different varieties and you can even build your own pizza and choose your own crust!) . Some Brass Taps Pizza Pubs play cheesy 80’s music and some hard rock and roll. Decor looks like your typical pub- bar stools, woodwork, and a large bar with an extensive selection of wine, beer, and hard liquor.

Also contains comfortable seating with large tables and booths as well.

They serve brunch Sundays from 11:30am-2:30pm and the menu is fairly extensive. I usually order granola with fruit and yogourt but since the menu has recently changed (perhaps due to new management?), I decided to have the Garden party egg white omelete.

The service is prompt and portions are big. I went with three friends and they had a mix of different items, French toast club sandwich with banana, peanut butter, and nutella, my other friend had a bagel with provolone cheese and red pepper, and another friend had a pizza frittata, which is an open faced omelete on top of pizza dough with pizza sauce and veggies.

All of our dishes arrived fresh and were under $10.00. Average price for brunch items was $5.95-$7.95. I received the wrong egg-white omelete, (I got a mushroom and cheese egg-white omelete). I told her kindly but timidly that I got the wrong item, so she re-ordered the omelete for me for free. Woo-Hoo.

The egg-white omelete was big and fluffy and had a lot of sauteed vegetables, and it came with roasted potatoes in a rosemary, garlic, and herb saute, and it came with four slices of toast. I did not eat the toast or potatoes but I was very satisfied with the egg-white omelete.

Soft drinks are expensive so be warned but portions are big, the 80’s music was absent that day but the overall ambiance was friendly and accomodating. I was thoroughly impressed. The server’s name was Shelley and she was super nice. Looks are deceiving because I would have never thought that this place served brunch- it simply looks like a pub. Many locations in Toronto. Extensive selection of vegetarian meals and excellent vegetarian pizza dishes. Please note that even though Brass Taps all share almost identical menus and the same name, they are not affiliated with each other. In sum, this beats the overpriced trendy il Fornello by a long shot. Some locations like the Little Italy location (on College street) offers free concerts (my friend Christy and I saw Shaye perform there), and other events. Very friendly service. Accepts all cards.