#6 Pasta Baldassarre When Leandro Baldassarre moved his pasta manufacturing business into its space on Geary Avenue, his plan to serve lunch became ensnared in licensing red tape. So, for half a year, he operated Pasta Baldassarre as a speakeasy, with only locals knowing to check Instagram for announcements of daily menus. Now that Baldassarre is legit, the lunch counter is no longer Toronto’s little secret, and the queue for the nine seats is often out the door. There is a revolving collection of lunch specials: chestnutfilled buckwheat medaglia, tortelli di zucca, agnolotti in sage butter, cavatelli with anchovies and rapini. Beyond the cliquey appeal, Baldassarre is a worthy destination because they serve a superb bowl of pasta. 122 Geary Ave. #33 Ramen Isshin It took a long time for Japanese ramen to become popular in Toronto. When it finally did, in 2012, the trend proliferated quickly, much of it mediocre. But since then, a few purveyors have risen above expectations, their broth a little more complex, their noodles a bit more springy. The long menu at Ramen Isshin has the classics, multiple vegetarian options (with vegan noodles available) and a penchant for experimentation — cold ramen with okra and kimchee, black sesame tan tan ramen, curry tsukemen. The standout Red Dragon ramen manages to surprise with a variety of flavours and textures — wok-fried pork bits and braised pork belly slices, peanuts, fermented chili paste, a blend of red and white miso and tonkotsu broth — while remaining sufficiently tethered to the concept of ramen to not seem gimmicky. 421 College St.