What’s on the menu at Romi’s, a new bakery and market from ex–Parallel Brothers chef Tomer Markovitz
Including challah, verdant falafel and out-of-this-world chocolate chip cookies
Name: Romi’s Bakery and Market
Contact: 744 St. Clair Ave. W., romisbakery.com, @romis_to
Neighbourhood: St. Clair West
Chef-owner: Tomer Markovitz (Parallel Brothers)
Chef Tomer Markovitz moved to Toronto from Tel Aviv in 2016. His first gig was as head chef at Parallel Brothers, which quickly became the unofficial hummus-and-tahini capital of Toronto. After a couple of years, he pivoted to restaurant consulting and private chef services. “I love restaurants,” he says. “To me, there’s nothing better. But the one thing that’s not so great about this industry is work-life balance.”
When his daughter, Romi, was born in 2021, Markovitz decided to open a spot that would allow him to spend evenings with his family. And so, the idea for Romi’s namesake bakery was born. Here, Markovitz focuses on his culinary roots. He learned how to make hummus from a Jaffa hole in the wall, falafel from a friend in Tel Aviv, and the rest from more than a decade of running restaurants in his hometown and abroad. “At the beginning, I said to myself, If this is my profession, if this is my path in life, I want to know everything I can know,” he says.
The first thing customers see when they walk in is a wall of challah loaves—each baked that morning and laid out in all their plush, golden glory—in flavours like sesame and Nutella. Guests can grab a coffee to go and something else from the bakery section, like a flaky rugelach or a nearly one-pound chocolate chip cookie, or order from a menu of more substantial fare. There’s a glorious hummus bowl, parsley-green falafel and a challah-bound schnitzel sandwich, to name a few options. There’s also a fridge stocked full of house-made goods like baba ghanouj, shakshuka sauce and (of course) Markovitz’s signature hummus. The market’s selection will be expanded as Romi’s settles into the neighbourhood.
Coffee is the main event here. Markovitz partnered with Montreal-based micro-roaster Jungle for its first break into the Toronto market. Their excellent beans are used throughout the third-wave-style coffee menu—americanos, cappuccinos and flat whites, all executed with the utmost care. There’s also organic tea from Honest Leaf (whose proprietor lives around the corner), available hot or in a not-too-sweet cold-steeped hibiscus spritz.
It’s a warm, sun-drenched room with gorgeous coffered ceilings, an open kitchen and counter seating around a central coffee bar. The walls, lined with shiny challah, are bookended on either side with offerings from Romi’s prepared food and spice selection. There’s more seating out on the side patio; the front patio is reserved for dogs and strollers. Come one, come all.