Best Pasta in Toronto…how about Vancouver?


Last January, I was in Toronto for 2 weeks art directing a food magazine. I was surrounded by amazing ingredients, talented stylists and foodie photographers. I was also given a nice meal allowance per diem to try an amazing restaurant each night. It was a beautiful time that I’ll always treasure. One time being my experience at Terroni on Queen Street. I was strongly urged by photographer Jim Norton (“I eat there once a week. No lie.”) and food stylist Lucie Richard (“Get the bucatini! Everything is good…but THAT is incredible!”) to go–and I did. It was jam packed on a freezing snowy Tuesday night with many neighbourhood types who chatted with the staff like they were old friends. Like “Cheers”? No sign of Norm & Clavin, but cozy like it. I ordered Lucie’s recommended dish and was NOT disappointed. terronimenuEverything tasted so fresh–AND flavorful. Chatting with the guy at the bar, it’s family run, pasta is made fresh daily, cooked to perfection, all fresh local ingredients other than the olive oil. (They travel to Italy every year to find the best batch for Italian cooking and bring it over in large quantities to use in the kitchen and sell bottles to their patrons.) I didn’t think I was that hungry, yet it was so simply and beautifully prepared that it was the best pasta I’ve ever enjoyed. I even told my waiter to let the kitchen know “They made one lady from Vancouver VERY VERY happy. It was worth coming all that way for tonight’s dinner.” The loud whoops and cheers that erupted from the kitchen minutes later terronis1put smiles on everyones faces. It was a great night. I couldn’t stop talking about it at the studio the next day. So on my last day in Toronto–3 days later–the gang ordered from Terroni for lunch so I could savor it one more time. Even takeout, it was INCREDIBLY good. So I ask of you, have you tried Terroni? If so, what do you think/recommend? (I heard they have other locations but the Queen St. is the original and best to hang out at.) And most importantly, where could I get this kind of pasta in Vancouver? I’ve dined at Trattoria Italian Kitchen numerous times and have yet to try Campagnolo or LaBuca, but…suggestions?? Does anyone in the city make fresh pasta like this?


12 Responses to “Best Pasta in Toronto…how about Vancouver?”

  1. Posted on February 17th, 2009

    I think that Cibo Trattoria is the best pasta in Vancouver – made fresh with all organic ingredients. Closely followed by La Quericia.

    Campagnolo and LaBuca are good but not that good. Trattoria doesn’t come close.

  2. Posted on February 17th, 2009

    A bit of a hole in the wall and out in the sticks, but the Golden Boot Caffe has the best pastas (oh the sauces!) I’ve had in the Lower Mainland. Unpretentious, authentic pasta dishes. Great pizzas too. Best kept secret in Coquitlam but blink and you’ll miss it.

  3. Posted on February 17th, 2009

    I love the tagliarini at Campagnolo, but I suspect from the mixed reviews that they’ve had on this site so far that it can be hit and miss (I’ve had it 3 times, all hits). In any case, it’s 4 blocks from my house, and there’s a wine bar in the back serving good wine at decent prices, so I’ll be back.

    I’m certain Cioppino’s serves up a mean pasta, but I haven’t scraped up the pennies to get down there. Yet.

  4. Posted on February 17th, 2009

    Well, you must try Campagnolo and La Buca, and indeed Cioppino‘s is a solid choice for good pasta in Vancouver (Pino knows exactly what he’s doing), but so are some of the old standbys, such as Il Giardino, CinCin Ristorante, Quattro, Villa del Lupo, and Amarcord. But these are formal dining rooms, not the casual Italian bistro environment I prefer.

    Pull yourself away from downtown and the Italian offerings along Commercial Drive are great bang for the buck without the pretense. Lombardo’s and La Rocca, both near Commercial and 1st Ave never disappoint. Just down the street is Marcello Pizzariea with excellent pizza. And for old school family dining, Nick’s Spaghetti House is always good fun—hey, they should know a thing or two about Italian food as they’ve been serving it for 51 years!

    An added bonus about eating Italian on Commercial is being able to take in a walk along The Drive for a espresso and a gelato as well as some interesting people watching!

  5. Posted on February 18th, 2009

    I live here (Toronto) and the review is right on the money… one the very best pasta dishes I’ve ever had.

    Let me make my point clearer. I have an Italian mother, and this is one the very best pasta dishes I’ve ever had.

    I’ve been to the other locations, but the original Queen St. W. location seems to be the only one that serves that sauce recipe with the bucatini.

    Anyway… awesome.

  6. Posted on February 19th, 2009

    Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. I did try Lombardo’s for the first time last year and loved it. Trying to find a Vancouver match for that specific bucatini dish that only Toronto Dave & I can vouch for! ;D Took a look at some of the menus above that had stuffed pasta on the menu vs. something authentic, simple and fresh like Terroni’s. If there was only 1-3 from your big list of 12 Mark, what do you suggest?

  7. Posted on February 27th, 2009

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen bucatini on a menu here in town. Can’t say I agree with Mark about Nick’s – it’s old school and kind of spaghetti and meatballs – nothing special in my opinion. I’m a big fan of Marcello’s Spaghetti Aglio e Oglio – garlicy, tomato-y and spicy, but don’t often order pasta when I go out. Question for you Nancy: do you think Terroni’s would give you the recipe?

  8. Posted on February 27th, 2009

    Haha. Well, I managed to trick a well-known local pizza place into accidentally giving me their BBQ Chicken recipe (ask me offlist). Terroni’s, I’m guessing it’s all the fresh or particular ingredients (which Italian vineyard did you get the e.v.o.o. from?). Plus, they MAKE their pasta fresh daily, so I’m already one down. Where is Marcello’s located?

  9. Posted on March 2nd, 2009

    Marcello’s is on Commercial Drive. Mark linked to it in his comment.

    So, just came across this today via Owen Lightly’s Butter on the Endive blog (thanks Jackie). Try Mario Batali’s recipe for Bucatini All’Amatriciana (which was referenced, but not reproduced in Owen’s post).

  10. Posted on March 2nd, 2009

    Thanks Ben! Over the weekend I found Mario Batali’s recipe in “The Babbo Cookbook” and another slightly simpler one w/same ingredients in “David Rocco’s Dolce Vita”. So I’m on my way to starchy tomatoy goodness!

  11. Posted on March 10th, 2009

    You simply must go to La Quercia right away. They make some of the most exquisite, delicately treated pastas at a reasonable price. Plus is such a homey place to eat. Oh, and everything else there is wonderful.

  12. Posted on July 10th, 2009

    Does anyone have a recipe that could give me something along the lines of Cincin’s Bolognese? Its sooo good. And nothing like a “meat sauce” I’ve ever tried.

Leave a Reply

If so desired you may use HTML in your comments. Links, bold/strong and emphasis/italics tags are all accepted! However more than one link will flag you as spam so write carefully!

Our Sponsors

These are our friends, neighbours and some of the best food resources around. They support us. We support them. You should too.