Where Origin and MasterChef Canada’s Claudio Aprile eats in the burbs
We're going on the road with some of the city's top chefs and restaurateurs to explore their favourite suburban restaurants. Claudio Aprile tells us what's good in North York and Maple
For the past decade, chef Claudio Aprile has helped sculpt the city’s culinary scene with his innovative kitchens. His first restaurant, Colborne Lane, became the breeding ground for some of Toronto’s current top chefs (Jonathan Poon, Steve Gonzalez, Matt Blondin, Jonathan Bower, Romain Avril). When Aprile isn’t running between his two Origin locations or the MasterChef Canada set, he’s asking his fellow cooks where they love to eat in the GTA. “I get tips from the guys in the kitchen. When they tell me about a place—it doesn’t matter where or what it is—I’ll go check it out.”
2057 Lawrence Ave. E., 416-750-8898, phometro.com
Aprile sure does love noodle soup. “Some of the best dishes I’ve had were in random back alleys in Southeast Asia. These are punchy, bright flavours and ingredients that really speak to me.”
Go-to item: Pho tai (rice noodle soup with beef).
Tasting notes: Pho Metro’s broth goes through a long process where heaps of bones, vegetables and herbs are simmered. “I love the broth—it’s not clear. It’s so complex and well-rounded with many nuanced flavours.”
2086 Lawrence Ave. E., 647-351-2015, crownpastriesbaklava.com
Aprile says that the sweets at Crown Pastries are the best he’s ever had. “When you eat something like this, and you see all the care and detail that goes into it, you just know that the chefs who made it are really passionate and really driven.”
Go-to item: Wardeh, rose-shaped phyllo pastries stuffed with whole pistachios.
Tasting notes: “Everything is soaked perfectly and the textures are incredible. They’re not overly sweet and the rosewater flavour is beautiful. Every layer adds something new: crunch, softness, nuts, balanced spices, rosewater. These are the same intellectual properties that govern a three-Michelin-star dish.”
800 Sheppard Ave. E., 416-730-8555, tarosfish.com
The Japanese seafood counter and grocery store is around the corner from Origin North, so he often grabs a quick meal here. Taro’s main draws are its sashimi, sushi and and hot plates (like deep-fried soft shell crab and torched salmon).
Go-to item: Gindara black cod.
Tasting notes: Marinated with miso, the delicately flaky and smoky fish is an umami bomb.
Pho Mi Viet Thai
2354 Major MacKenzie Dr., Maple, 905-417-5284
Aprile recently discovered this family-owned spot. “You have to try the curried noodles,” he says. “The chef is a total gangster—he doesn’t speak English, and man can he cook.”
Go-to item: Bun ga xao cari (Stir-fried chicken with curry on noodles)
Tasting notes: A heaping bowl of chicken (or beef) is tossed with curry and served on a mound of vermicelli and chopped vegetables. The thick and fragrant peanut-y curry clings to the noodles.
2354 Major MacKenzie Dr. W. #9., Maple, no phone, waffleu
Aprile recently discovered this one-year old dessert bar. “There’s only one guy behind the counter—no servers. He’s so passionate about what he does, it’s very inspirational. It’s just great to see a chef touch each ingredient and prepare food with so much pride and love. Those are the two basic characteristics that all great cooks must have.”
Go-to item: A Liège waffle with Nutella and banana.
Tasting notes: “I like to keep it classy and simple—Nutella and bananas really complement the waffle’s cakey texture.