What’s on the menu at Romi’s, a new bakery and market from ex–Parallel Brothers chef Tomer Markovitz

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

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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.”

Related: Toronto’s 10 best, most bountiful hummus bowls, ranked

Chef and owner Tomer Markovitz

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 food

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.

Romi’s take on the kale salad pairs the ubiquitous leafy green with napa cabbage, dried cranberries, mint, walnut and scallion. The star of this salad is Romi’s house lemon vinaigrette, which is for sale by the bottle. Free of vinegar and acidified entirely with lemon juice, it’s zingy without packing too much of a punch and would be at home in almost any salad. $17


Here we have one of Romi’s rotating hummus bowls. This one includes garlic, black pepper, caramelized onion and mushrooms cooked in gluten-free soy sauce, all served on silky hummus and accompanied by spicy zhug, tahini and chickpeas. It’s topped with a drizzle of olive oil imported from Kalamata (also available by the bottle). $17


Naturally, Markovitz won’t reveal all the ingredients in his vividly verdant-on-the-inside falafel, but parsley, coriander, scallion and mint are definitely involved. These bright, herbaceous spheres are served on Romi’s hummus. Three for $9, six for $15, or nine for $21


The falafel also makes its way into a sandwich dressed with tahini and zhug. All of Romi’s sandwiches have a similar array of ingredients besides their main protein—pickles, cucumber, tomato, lettuce and challah. What you’re seeing here is only half the sandwich—these are hefty, shareable portions. $15


Here we have half of a chicken schnitzel sandwich, with mayo, cucumber, tomato, lettuce and pickles. Fun fact: all the sandwiches on this menu are versions of those Markovitz’s mother used to pack him for school lunches. $16


And here, half a breakfast sandwich, loaded with an omelette, mayo, cucumber, tomato, lettuce and pickles. Customers can opt to swap mayo for tahini (or tahini for mayo in the other sandwiches). $13


These are among the best, most decadent chocolate chip cookies in the city. They’re fairly traditional, but the difference comes down to the ingredients—Madagascar vanilla paste in place of extract, top-tier chocolate and butter, and so on. They have crisp edges and gooey insides, and each one is big enough to share. $5


Romi’s delectable double-fudge brownies—another case where superb ingredients shine through in an otherwise traditional baked good


Markovitz puts the finishing touches on a batch of Nutella rugelach, before tucking them into the oven


Here’s the finished product


The challah wall (the best kind of wall) includes mainstays like sesame and seeded alongside daily specials.


Here’s a closer look


And a whole mouth-watering spread
The drinks

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.

The space

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.

Knick-knacks and spices, including a killer house-made ras el hanout ($15)