For over a year, the windows on the northwest corner of King and Brant have sported signs reading “Alimento Fine Food Emporium: Coming Soon.” Last week, Alimento finally opened, giving King Westers one less excuse to avoid using their kitchens. We stopped by to take a look.
Behind Alimento are Marco, Joe, Albert Jr. and Anthony Contardi, four brothers who come from a long line of cheesemakers (black and white photos behind the bar show their grandfather making cheese). The shop is a modernized version of a traditional Italian marketplace, much like Eataly in New York, with both a grocery business and a restaurant. Previously home to an EQ3 warehouse store, the renovated space features the staple King West exposed brick look.
Alimento’s grocery store offers a large selection of specialty deli meats, cheeses (including homemade bocconcini, burrata and fior di latte), antipasti and olives. There’s also a bakery and biscotti bar stocked with items made by Italian baker Andrea Mastrandrea (Forno Cultura) and even a fresh flower stand for some old-world nostalgia. The restaurant side features a long marble mozzarella bar, a few small tables, and a bar in the back with coffee and pastries in the morning and wine as the afternoon rolls around. Tucked in the back, a large oven churns out focaccia sandwiches and pizza as well as bottled drinks and prepared salads and pastas.
A full sit-down menu is available from lunch through dinner, with most of the produce sourced from the grocery side. All dishes are traditionally Italian: roasted beet caprese with homemade fior di latte and basil ($9), a cheese platter featuring fior di latte and goat milk formaggio fresco along with aged caciocavallo and trecce ($21), a salumi platter ($23). There are also pastas like the squid ink fettuccine nero with cuttlefish, garlic and oregano ($15); pizzas ($11–$19); and secondi like a 14 oz. bone-in rib eye ($27) and a whole lemon and olive oil branzino ($25).
Alimento Fine Food Emporium, 522 King St. W., 416-362-0123, alimento.ca