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Food & Drink

What’s on the menu at Alice, Little Italy’s chic new spot for upscale diner fare

Including street-style corn, tomahawk steak and a bananas foster martini

By Erin Hershberg| Photography by Jelena Subotic
A spread of food from Alice in Little Italy

Name: Alice Contact: 488 College St., alicetoronto.com, @alicebevy
Owners: Afif Khan, Matthew Haddon Chef: Zicco Accessible: Washrooms are not accessible

Little Italy was screaming for a culinary overhaul, and courtesy of new restaurants like Martine’s, Casa Paco, DaNico and Contrada, it’s finally happening. The latest addition to the neighbourhood’s all-stars roster is Alice, a deeply TikTok-able new spot for cocktails, street food and creatively upscaled diner offerings.

The owners of Alice sitting outside on their patio
Matthew Haddon and Afif Khan, the co-owners of Alice, sipping drinks on their back patio

Afif Khan and Matthew Haddon, Alice’s co-owners, had previously opened Wonderland Cannabis Dispensary and were itching to expand their entertainment footprint. “Building a restaurant seemed like a natural fit,” says Khan. The two are unabashed about being new to the food-and-drink world, and they’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. Instead, they’re looking to make the ride as smooth as possible, with classic smash burgers, tacos, tomahawk steaks and beautifully crisp Korean cauliflower bites. The breadth of their selection is similar to what you might find at a chain restaurant, but elevated by a playful spirit and superior execution. It’s best eaten on the patio, a checker-floored backyard-like space inspired by Palm Springs.

The food

Alice has everything from street corn to salmon tartare to spaghetti. It’s a something-for-everyone approach that runs the risk of being nothing to anyone—but in this case, every dish is given star treatment, making for a perfectly realized vision. The deep-fried calamari is tender yet crisp; the street corn strikes a balance between sweet, spicy and salty; and the steaks are beautifully crusty on the outside and pink and juicy where it counts.

A plate of corn
For the street corn ribs, deep-fried “quarters” of corn are sprinkled with zesty Tajín, thinly sliced chives and parmigiano-reggiano, which takes the place of the queso fresco found in traditional esquites. The ribs are drizzled with spicy aïoli and served with lime wedges. $12

 

A bowl of penne in tomato sauce
One of a handful of pasta dishes on the menu, the spicy penne alla vodka is cooked al dente in a silky tomato sauce that’s been slow-simmered with heavy cream, chilies, onions and garlic. $24

 

A platter with steak, Caesar salad, corn and mozzarella sticks
The tomahawk steak platter centres 56 ounces of seasoned and grilled Butcher Shoppe steak. It’s served with chimichurri sauce, hand-cut french fries, panko-crusted mozzarella sticks, street corn ribs and a creamy caesar salad with house-made croutons. $169

 

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A standard Caesar salad
The umami-forward caesar salad (hello, anchovies!) is also available on its own. A bigger mountain of freshly grated parmigiano is a coveted add-on. $16 ($18 for extra cheese)

 

Two taco shells that are filled with Big Mac ingredients
The BMAC Tacos are a clever upmarket take on the eponymous Big Mac. Steamed corn tortillas are filled with crispy ground beef patties, then covered with iceberg lettuce, dill pickle slices and diced white onion. Finally, the tacos are smothered in Alice’s secret sauce. $19

 

A plate of burratta with tomatoes and herbs
Thick-cut heirloom tomatoes provide the juicy backdrop for burrata cheese with fresh basil. Drizzles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar unify the dish. $23

 

A colourful plate of beef carpaccio
For the carpaccio, thin slices of beef are nestled in a pool of high-quality olive oil. Fresh arugula, a crackling of black pepper and huge chunks of parmigiano-reggiano add brightness, nuttiness and tons of umami. $25
The drinks

The cocktail card is an unapologetically vibrant, fruit-forward list of libations that aims for subtle surprises (a spicy margarita with scotch bonnet instead of jalapeño) and delightful twists (an espresso martini with salted caramel and punchy chili liqueur). A globally diverse, accessible wine program is on its way.

A very pink cocktail
In a nod to the patio’s Palm Springs energy, the house cocktail, the Alice, is a blend of cactus pear syrup, Spirit of York pink gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice and Chartreuse. The drink is shaken, strained and poured over a large ice cube. $17

 

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A small yellow cocktail
For the Garden Party, smoky mezcal and tequila are complimented by a tangy and sweet mélange of ginger syrup, lime, pineapple juice, muddled cucumber and fresh cilantro. The drink is finished with a splash of ginger beer and garnished with a slice of dehydrated lime. $18

 

A brown drink in a small glass
The Bananas Foster Martini is a spin on a traditional sour. It’s made with house brown sugar, banana caramel, lime juice and dark rum. The drink is shaken with egg white, and there’s a sprinkling of nutmeg for extra warmth. $16

 

A spicy take on a margarita
For the Scotch Bonnet Margarita, simple syrup is simmered with scotch bonnet peppers, then strained and cooled before joining the usual suspects—lime juice, triple sec and tequila. It’s rimmed with Tajín and Himalayan salt. $17

 

Alice's house espresso martini
Alice’s espresso martini uses ancho chili liqueur in addition to a mix of vodka, coffee liqueur and house-made salted dark chocolate sauce. It’s probably best not to eat the whole Thai chili garnish. $18
The space

“The supper club is back,” says Haddon, “so that’s what we’re aiming for here.” Alice has two floors, each with a distinct aesthetic. The moody top level has a cocktail bar feel, with wood floors, an ebony stone bar, mirror balls and neon accents. The exposed brick walls, marble tabletops and tufted banquette seating downstairs caters to more of a serious dining crowd. But the highlight is the patio, a whitewashed, cactus-filled terracotta space that is more Santorini than Little Italy.

A wide look at the patio
A closer look at the patio tables
The moody upper floor
More of the moody upper floor
The downstairs area
The lower bar
The storefront

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