Inside Freebird, a swanky new market in Etobicoke for house-made pizza, pasta, pastries and groceries

Inside Freebird, a swanky new market in Etobicoke for house-made pizza, pasta, pastries and groceries

Freebird, a new market for all things artisanal in south Etobicoke, is the pandemic outgrowth of 10tation, a 22-year-old catering company that operates out of the same building. When Covid put the kibosh on large gatherings, owner David D’Aprile saw an opportunity to leverage his commissary kitchen toward a neighbourhood-focused market complete with specialty groceries and an extensive prepared foods section. And thus, Freebird Market took flight.

WATCH: Take a tour of Freebird Market on TikTok

Freebird Market
Chef Jason Maw (left) with owner David D’Aprile.

It’s quite an operation: a nearly 10,000-square-foot production space, under the direction of executive chef Jason Maw, produces a truly impressive array of food that can be used to either to round out a home-cooked dinner (think tasty preserves, soups and marinated meats) or supplant it entirely with vac-packed, ready-to-serve meals.

Lining the shelves are a mix of house-made specialties and high-end grocery products from other makers. Flavours range from classic to creative—the salad dressing section alone stocks everything from Greek and white balsamic to an espresso-spiked coffee-based concoction.

House-made ravioli stuffed with chai-braised pork and served with aromatic Taleggio cheese and pear. Taleggio and chai may not be obvious dancing partners, but with an excellent pasta buffer, they’re surprisingly cohesive. $16


Freebird’s sticky, tender pork belly is cured for three days in a cardamom-anise brine, pressed, and braised for eight hours. After getting portioned out, it’s seared for shatteringly crispy sides, glazed with maple syrup and served with a sweet, piquant grape mostarda. $2.50 per slice


Classic osso buco served on polenta with blanched heirloom carrots. Versions of this dish have been around since the early 19th century, and for good reason. $28 plus $6 for the carrots


The wide range of ready-to-serve meals, meanwhile, has virtually everything needed to minimize the effort-to-reward ratio for dinner. Some are stand-alone dishes, like Peruvian seafood stew and beef bourguignon, but it’s also a game of mixing and matching components. It’s possible to pick up a tender beef agrodolce, osso buco or lemon pepper Wagyu steak, then add on sides like mashed potatoes or blanched heirloom carrots.

This Peruvian stew absolutely brims with seafood: shrimp, mussels, squid, monkfish, scallops and clams are rounded out with potatoes and finished with coriander, poblano chili, and aji amarillo. $25 for two portions


Fresh casarecce pasta with rapini, sausage and burrata. Restaurant-quality food for your own dining table (or couch, or bed—reap the benefits of takeout whatever way you please). $15


Tender braised beef with agrodolce, ”happy mash” and rapini. $24 for the beef, $9/$17 for the mash, $7 for the rapini


At the counter, you’ll find a rotating range of salads, sandwiches, fresh pasta, Roman-style pizza and roasted meats. One heavy hitter is the impeccable porchetta sandwich, carved to order and topped with sautéed red onions, arugula and special sauce.

A selection from the counter includes (from right) a slice of potato-and-rosemary pizza bianca, a margherita panzerotto, a saffron arancini, a slice of classic pepperoni, and a slice of rapini and sausage


On the left, a fancy fish sandwich with filet of sole, tartare and slaw. On the right, a seeded bagel with lox, pickled onions, cream cheese and arugula. $13 each


Porchetta in one heck of a sandwich with arugula, sautéed red onions and special sauce. $16


And that’s just the savoury stuff—dessert is no afterthought here and includes adorable tiramisu jars, freshly baked bomba and delicate mini cakes, to just a few of the sweet treats.

Like all the desserts on Freebird’s menu, the apple pie crust is free of shortening and preservatives—it’s just butter and flour doing the heavy lifting here. Also in this array: croissants, chocolate almond teacake, opera cake, rugelach, amaretti with orange blossom and Black Forest cake


More desserts from the bakery section. A molten lava cake (all it needs is 30 seconds in a microwave), a lemon tart, a s’mores bar, a pistachio cannoli, lemon poppyseed coffee cakes and a cinnamon roll


Making bomba, pure clouds of joy stuffed with pistachio, ricotta and gianduja. $4.50 each


Organic beverages are also on offer here, including a line of house-made juices, like the activated-charcoal-and-lemon-infused Afterparty. Tea (including stuff from top-notch Quebec-based company La Bonne Fille) and coffee is available at the counter. A liquor licence is forthcoming, at which point Freebird hopes to get into the wine game, stocking lesser-known labels you won’t find at the LCBO.

There’s no seating, however, so you’ll have to enjoy your goodies at home…or on the way home.

Freebird Market, 232 Norseman St.,, @freebirdmarket