WEST END PASTA WARS
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a foodie in this town that hasn’t heard of Rob Gentile. It’s safe to say that the chef-restaurateur is one busy guy, palling around with Jamie Oliver, plotting foodie retreats in Umbria and heading up a food company in addition to holding exec chef duties at a handful of restos. But his original Buca — on the buzzy King West strip — is where it all began. Everybody still adores the nodini, glistening with EVOO, and the toothsome duck egg bigoli swimming in a ragu of duck offal. But let’s not forget the rotating housecured salumi, which may include soppressata and prosciuttini, and that whole fish branzino with preserved lemon and bariole olives. There’s a reason the place has been hopping since 2009. 604 King St. W. & 53 Scollard St.
Before there was La Palma, there was Campagnolo. Chef Craig Harding and wife Alexandra Hutchison’s love letter to Italian food has been drawing the pastaratti to Dundas West since before it was cool. The homey environs make you feel like you’ve stumbled into a Tuscan villa overseen by an eager nonna, keen to feed. A mound of super-fresh ricotta is the perfect cloud-like consistency, warm and ready to spread on house-made bread with roasted grapes. Even more comforting are the pastas: agnolotti come stuffed with the fruits of the season, whereas the mainstay all’amatriciana means strands of spaghetti bathing in spicy tomato-and-guanciale sauce, finished with a snowfall of Parm. Not to be missed. 832 Dundas St. W.