Just Opened: we review three of the city’s new restaurants
Religious burgers, heavenly house-made bread and a world-class oenophile
THE BURGER’S PRIEST
1636 Queen St. E., 647-346-0617
The battle for the city’s best burger just got more heated. The loosely packed, hand-formed, cooked-to-medium patties at this tiny Catholic-kitsch place have a legitimate claim. They’re gloriously simple: Alberta beef that’s ground in-house a few times a day, plus exquisitely insubstantial buns that can be accessorized in any of the old-school ways. (If you want caramelized passion fruit, you’d best look at a heathen establishment.) The Option, made from two roasted portobello caps sandwiching a mix of cheeses, rolled in panko and deep-fried, is the city’s first joyful veggie burger. The Pope is a double cheeseburger, plus The Option, all on a single bun. (It’s also a death wish, in case you were wondering.) As for the name, the proprietor, a former seminary student, claims to be “redeeming the burger one customer at a time.” He’s even installed confessional privacy screens in place of sneeze guards. Cheesy, yes. But that’s the point. Unlicensed. Cash only. Closed Sunday.
588 College St., 416-516-5861
Among the soulless chop houses and martini bars of Little Italy, Frank Parhizgar’s new place is a welcome change. His bread plate, all made in-house, is beyond good: a crispy epi loaf, eggy brioche puffballs, a light focaccia and a bread stick that doesn’t at all suck. He rolls his pastas won ton thin, whether as a gorgeous wrapper for lobster ravioli or as a decent squid ink fettuccine that’s classic red-checked-tablecloth Toronto. Meats are nicely done, particularly St. Jacob’s pork three ways (crispy belly, rack and loin), though accompaniments like braised red cabbage feel too autumnal in the dead of summer. The dessert menu is a French cliché. The wine list could use some love. Closed Monday. Mains $15–$30.
333 King St. W., 416-599-6585
A host hustling for business on the sidewalk is almost always a sign of cheap, mass-produced dishes within. But the newest spot on the theatre district’s restaurant row proves the exception. Chef Chris Palik’s menu of fresh, seasonal, Italian-inspired food borrows from Paese’s Bathurst location, placing more emphasis on meat. Enjoyable homemade pizzas and pastas, like orecchiette with spot prawns and salty ham hocks, successfully merge Italian tradition with Canadian ingredients. Desserts are superb, especially the unbelievably moist pistachio and brown butter cake. The wine list pairs well with the food, as it should—this is only restaurant in town with an in-house master sommelier. Mains $17–$30.