Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Tasteful Noods

A saucy survey of the city’s best bowls of pasta

By Alex Baldinger and Rebecca Fleming| Photography by Vicky Lam | Food Styling by Matthew Kimura
| January 31, 2022
7 Numbers’ penne alla ricotta

25 Simplicity is the secret ingredient in this bowl from Eglinton’s long-time Southern Italian outpost. Adorned with nothing more than grated cured ricotta and strips of fresh basil, the penne rigate is tossed with Rosa Marinuzzi’s signature plum tomato sauce, which clings to every ridge. $12.75. 516 Eglinton Ave. W., 307 Danforth Ave., sevennumbers.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Eataly’s agnolotti del plin brasato

24 Never outgrew the butter noodles phase? Neither did we. That’s why we love this bowl of teeny crimped pockets stuffed with a pork-veal combo and glistening with the good stuff. And the complimentary bread was born to soak up the pool of liquid gold at the bottom of the bowl. Don’t let a drop go to waste. $23. 55 Bloor St. W., eataly.ca

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Antler’s ricotta cavatelli with wild boar ragu

23 Chef Michael Hunter lives up to his surname, eschewing more traditional beef and pork for his signature tomato ragu in favour of braised wild boar. The meaty sauce is tossed with house-made ricotta cavatelli and, for a final act, crowned with sheets of salty parm. $28. 1454 Dundas St. W., antlerkitchenbar.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

F’Amelia’s braised rabbit pappardelle

22 Cabbagetown’s cozy trattoria is still turning out one of our favourite plates of pappardelle. Wide ribbons of fresh house-made pasta are tossed with oyster mushrooms, black kale, garlic confit and—the star protein—big chunks of tender, thyme-and-rosemary-braised rabbit. $29. 12 Amelia St., famelia.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Bar Vendetta’s cacio e pepe crown

21 A good bowl of cacio e pepe isn’t hard to find around here these days, and for that we are thankful. But only one version in town announces itself to the table like royalty, and that’s this crown-shaped creation found at Jen Agg’s Dundas West restaurant. A frilled sheet of pasta is curled into the shape of a regal headpiece, the inner surface filled with lightly sweet ricotta, pecorino, black pepper and lemon zest. $23. 928 Dundas St. W., barvendetta.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Frankie’s Italian’s fat mac ragu

20 If an algorithm could produce the perfect bowl of midwinter comfort food, the result would taste something like this bowl of saucy nostalgia from Riverside’s casual Italian joint. Jumbo house-made macaroni noodles—like KD on steroids—are buried under an avalanche of slow-cooked ragu. There’s both beef and pork in there for good measure, and it’s finished with fresh parm and basil. $17. 892 Queen St. E., frankiesyafrankies.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Gusto 501’s mafalde ai funghi

19 For mushroom maximalists, there’s no topping this bowl at Janet Zuccarini’s Corktown dining room. Porcini, portobello and oyster mushrooms hug every nook and cranny of the ridged noodles. And if that isn’t fungi enough, it’s finished with a truffle cream sauce that binds everything together. $26. 501 King St. E., gusto501.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Gio Rana’s butternut squash crespelle

18 Folded like pocket squares over a savoury-sweet squash purée blended with silky mascarpone, the pasta crêpes are a must at this east-end landmark known as the Nose. They’re draped with a sage butter sauce that is among the city’s most soppable, so don’t skip the foccaccia. $15. 1220 Queen St. E., @thenosegios

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

La Palma’s 100 layer lasagna

17 This hundred-ply slab of goodness at Craig Harding’s Cal-Ital kitchen is a true culinary calling card. Does it have as many layers as it claims to have? Does it even matter? The brick-shaped wodge of feather-light lasagna is a masterpiece of alternating pasta sheets, béchamel and bolognese, charred on top in all the right places and served on its side so the noodles stand at attention. $25. 849 Dundas St. W., lapalmato.myshopify.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Tutti Matti’s pappardelle with braised brisket

16 Chef Alida Solomon’s Entertainment District restaurant just celebrated its 19th year serving top-notch Tuscan fare. Her handmade pappardelle is a menu mainstay for good reason. The noodles—fat, tender and preternaturally yellow from the Conestoga Farms eggs—are topped with unbelievably unctuous pulled brisket braised in a red wine sauce loaded with tomato and garlic. $32. 364 Adelaide St. W., tuttimatti.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Dova’s rico e pepe

15 At his Cabbagetown sequel to King East’s Ardo, chef Roberto Marotta puts a Sicilian spin on the Roman classic cacio e pepe. He tosses thick-cut spaghetti with creamy fresh ricotta instead of punchier parmesan to produce a mellower—yet no less satisfying—counterpoint to the small mountain of toasted black pepper that gives the dish its trademark bite. It’s finished with grated Sicilian pecorino. $22. 229 Carlton St., dovarestaurant.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Osteria Giulia’s raviolo al’uovo

14 At Rob Rossi’s swanky new Yorkville spot, a single super-sized raviolo comes filled with a trifecta of Italian cheeses (ricotta, pecorino, grana padano), black truffles and an egg yolk, which, when the pasta pocket is ruptured, flows like golden lava into the waiting pool of brown butter sauce. It’s all covered in a flurry of truffle shavings. $29. 134 Avenue Rd., osteriagiulia.ca

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

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Piano Piano’s tortelli con bolognese

13 No best pasta list would be complete without a bolognese. Chef Victor Barry’s brings a trio of tortelli—oversized postage stamps of pasta stuffed with ricotta and parmesan and swimming in the real star of the dish: a pool of supremely satisfying beef ragu. $26. 88 Harbord St., 623 Mt. Pleasant Rd., pianopianotherestaurant.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Ascari Enoteca’s spaghetti alla carbonara

12 Few pastas are as satisfying as the classic carbonara, and Ascari’s rendition is as cravable as it gets. A tangle of toothsome noodles is tossed with house-made morsels of guanciale, showerings of grana padano and pecorino cheese, and the star of the show: a bright-orange egg yolk sprinkled with black pepper and practically begging to be swirled among its bowlmates. $26. 1111 Queen St. E., ascari.ca

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Amano Trattoria’s tagliolini with P.E.I. mussels

11 This supremely slurpable dish at Amano’s moody new St. Lawrence spot tosses house-made tagliolini in a sauce of white wine, chili and garlic, along with pudgy P.E.I. mussels and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs. It’s like the delicious pasta incarnation of moules frites. $19. 9 Church St., eatamano.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Viaggio’s ’nduja and bone marrow mafaldine

10 For this must-order dish at Jon Vettraino’s trattoria, fat and squiggly pasta ribbons come covered in a tomato ragu, jazzed up with bone marrow and ’nduja for a luscious, smoky and spicy sauce. It’s riddled with charred rapini to cut through the richness, then covered like a snow-capped mountain with parm. $28. 1727 Dundas St. W., viaggiorestaurant.ca

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Ardo’s gnocchi

9 On the menu since the King East restaurant opened in 2016, these little bundles—golden brown on one side, beautifully tender on the other—are so addictive they could be eaten by the bucket. They’re served on an off-the-charts-silky sauce that gets its umami oomph from porcini mushrooms and a generous dusting of fresh parm, set off with pops of brunoised heirloom carrot. $24. 243 King St. E., ardorestaurant.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Enoteca Sociale’s cacio e pepe

8 The gold-standard version of this rustic Roman classic comes from the Dundas West kitchen helmed by chef Kyle Rindinella. House-made spaghetti is tossed with fistfuls of pecorino and a tongue-tingling dose of freshly ground black pepper. It’s all swirled together with a bit of starchy pasta water to create a sauce that has as much bite as the perfectly al dente noodles. $18. 1288 Dundas St. W., sociale.ca

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Spaccio’s tonnarelli alla norcina

7 This truffle-topped standout is now available at Terroni’s Corktown production kitchen, where you can watch as the noodles are made fresh by flour-dusted pastaios. The al dente tonnarelli arrive tossed in a garlicky sauce of crumbled spicy pork sausage and pecorino, blanketed with paper-thin shavings of Italian black truffle. $26. 22 Sackville St., terroni.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Wynona’s lumache with duck confit

6 There’s always a short list of seasonal, painstakingly house-made pastas at chef Jeff Bovis’s Gerrard East dining room. One that lingers long in the memory is this bowl of snail-shell-shaped curls: they’re piled with big hunks of slow-cooked duck confit, ribbons of sautéed maitake mushroom and an alluring dollop of creamy stracciatella on top, its mellow flavour offset with a hit of bright-green arugula pesto. $27. 819 Gerrard St. E., wynonatoronto.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Superpoint’s spicy rigatoni

5 Our reigning pasta champs (reginette with braised beef cheek, 2017) are back, this time with rigatoni in a tangy tomato sauce amped up with fermented chilies. The spicy noodles are a-okay on their own, but for a few extra bucks, add an orb of fresh Ontario burrata from Sofia, Superpoint co-owner Jesse Fader’s pandemic-born cheese project, to take it up a notch. $27. 184 Ossington Ave., superpoint.ca

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Nodo’s duck ragu pappardelle

4 With three locations from Leslieville to the Junction, this pizza-and-pasta joint has become one of the city’s most dependable places to carbo load. The creations are more contemporary than classic, and we like none more than these broad ribbons of house-made pappardelle tossed in a meaty ragu that gets extra oomph from generously spiced Quebec duck, and a bit of crunch from flecks of crispy sage. $22.50. 1192 Queen St. E., 794 St. Clair Ave. W., 2885 Dundas St. W., nodorestaurant.ca

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Oretta’s canestri alle cime di rapa

3 This verdant pasta dish gets its Incredible Hulk–like hue from a creamy rapini purée. The bitter green veggie—which also appears in the bowl, braised—cuts through the richness of the pork sausage crumbled among the chubby canestri noodles, which are like the delicious offspring of rigatoni and elbow macaroni. $21. 633 King St. W., oretta.to

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Sugo’s spaghetti

2 For a classically comforting, back-to-basics binge—and over the past couple of years, that’s where our heads have been at—there’s the spaghetti from this Bloordale red-sauce joint. What arrives at the table is a profound pile of noodles swimming in a rich and tangy veal-and-pork ragu, sprinkled with parm, parsley and pepper. Pro move: crown your noods with a huge sugo-covered meatball for the full experience. $24. 1281 Bloor St. W., sugotoronto.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

Famiglia Baldassarre’s tortelli di zucca mantovani

1 People stand in line for an hour or more during the week to get a taste of Leandro Baldassarre’s incredible pastas. The menu changes daily, but this seasonal staple is so popular that it spawned its own line of hoodies adorned with the name of the dish. Perfect pockets of handmade pasta are stuffed with squash or pumpkin and crushed amaretti cookies, then tossed in a butter sauce and flicked with parm to balance all the sweetness. Yes, it’s elusive, but the payoff is worth it. (And you might even score some merch while you’re at it.) $18. 122 Geary Ave., famigliabaldassarre.com

Toronto's best bowls of pasta

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