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Toronto/Little Italy

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Toronto : Little Italy
Revision as of 23:12, 2 June 2008 by (talk) (added listing Il Gusto)
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Toronto/Little Italy

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Little Italy is in Toronto.

Bending itself along College Street from Bathurst Street to Dovercourt, bounded by Harbord Street to the North and Dundas Street to the south, Little Italy is one of the numerous Italian neighbourhoods in Toronto, and is the best known. The heart of this trendy district with a European flair is College and Clinton Streets. Trendy bars, restaurants and shops emanate In both directions, offering a wide selection of comestibles and tchotchkas to would-be patrons. During the summer months, locals from near and far sun themselves on boulevard patios or enjoy an elixir in the balmy evening air.

Vacated by suburb-seeking Canadians of Anglo-Saxon descent, the affordable Victorian homes that line the side streets of this neighbourhood were bought up by Italian immigrants, many of whom found work on the railroads and in road construction. This influx of Italians in the community led to the opening of a number of Italian-owned businesses along College Street. It was during the 1920’s that this area became recognized as the residential and commercial centre of Toronto’s Italian community.

After the Second World War, Canada relaxed its immigration policy triggering a massive influx of Italian immigrants to Toronto. A large proportion of these immigrants made their way to College Street West, buying property from the previous generation of Italian immigrants, who, during Toronto’s boom years, moved to St. Clair West (Corso Italia) or more distant suburbs such as Woodbridge. Later, as the Italians moved out, the Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese families moved in. In recognition of its history, the local College Street business association officially adopted the “Little Italy” moniker in 1985. Today, Little Italy's population is quite ethnically diverse, all the while maintaining its Italian-European flair.

More recently, the area's influence has begun spread westwards with the opening of a number of trendy bistros and cafés towards Ossington Avenue. While not quite as recognisable as the stretch east of Dovercourt, the once-downtrodden area is beginning to follow the cue of Queen West further to the south, and is experiencing growing interest from those seeking "the next hip area".

Get in

By public transit

The number 506 (Carlton) streetcar line runs through the middle of the district along College Street, and can be caught at Main Street, College and Queen's Park subway stations or at any street-level stop along its route.





  • Il Gusto, 796 College Street (NE Corner College & Roxton), 416-588-7490. Il Gusto is a relatively new addition to an up-and-coming area, and if the food is any indication, it's here to stay. The ravioli, served al dente with a superbly fragrant tomato sauce, is particularly good, as is the veal scallopini. Inside, the decor is warm and inviting, with exposed red brick and large windows, but the newly-built raised patio is the best spot to watch this transforming neighbourhood during the warmer months. Reasonable.
  • Cafe Diplomatico & Restaurant, 594 College Street (506 Carlton streetcar west from Yonge or Queen's Park), 416-534-4637. A fixture in Little Italy, Cafe Diplomatico has been serving authentic Italian food and heated politcial discussion for years. The patio is especially popular. <$50 for two.




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