There are many great pasta places in Toronto. After my first post about Toronto restaurants, I didn’t know whether or not to continue the series. It might not the best time to talk about restaurant recommendations because we’re basically all stuck at home now but we all still gotta eat. Some of us are still going to order takeout because it’s something we enjoy during these dark days. It was one of mine.
There is no way I have only 3 favourite restaurants in Toronto. There are so many restaurants in the city but I couldn’t squeeze everything in. If I wrote in detail about each, the post would be too long. I separated the restaurants by categories so today, I’m going to talk about the best pasta places in Toronto. There are some pretty drool-worthy ones here.
I’m always talking about Asian recipes and Asian food but it’s not the only thing I eat. I also have a love for pasta. Good news: all my favourite pasta places are downtown, which means that you can take the TTC (Toronto’s transportation system) to get here. The locations are more convenient compared to the other restaurants in my previous post.
People usually have a strong preference between tomato-based or cream based pasta. My friends and I certainly have had discussions about them before. I’m a creamy pasta type of girl. I never understood the hype around tomato sauce. I do admit that I can’t eat as much pasta with cream sauce because it’s more filling. If you’re looking for tomato-based pasta dishes, you can go ahead and skip this post. It’s not for you.
1) Trattoria Nervosa
75 Yorkville Avenue
Nervosa is located in Yorkville, an upscale shopping and dining area in downtown Toronto. I’ve been coming to Nervosa for as long as I can remember and it’s always busy no matter what time. Even if you come here at 3 pm, a time where no one is eating lunch, it’s still crowded. The least crowded time is right when it opens. That’s the time I used to meet my friend. Nervosa has a patio upstairs as well as outdoor dining downstairs. Customers like to eat there during summertime. Toronto might be cold for most of the year but our summers are beautiful. I really hope that COVID cases will go down in the summer so we can eat out again.
This restaurant is so popular that there’s a video on YouTube showing Beyonce and Jay-Z exiting the restaurant. I wonder who told them about Nervosa? That person certainly has good taste because if anyone asked me where they should go eat in downtown Toronto, I would say Nervosa too.
My #1 is the mafalde ai funghi aka creamy mushroom pasta. It’s one of the most popular dishes and I guarantee you will see people order this while you’re there. The pasta dish is technically vegetarian. That doesn’t matter to me but I like that they added three types of mushrooms (porcini, portobello, and oyster). It adds a variety and the dish would be boring without them. The pasta shape is also interesting. It’s long and squiggly. They use the mafaldine shaped pasta. It’s a very filling dish. I’ve found many places that make cream pasta to be bland but this flavour is perfect. The cream is rich and tasty.
Another famous dish is their cavolo nero, which is a kale salad. I can’t tell you much about this one because I’m not a kale salad kind of girl. You know how I have to get the mafalde ai funghi? My friend has to get the kale salad. I tried it once and thought it was a bit sour. It’s probably the lemon vinaigrette. You can also add a side dish. My friend gets the grilled chicken breast and boy, do I like that. I always have a bite of hers. The chicken is so moist and tender. What’s the secret, Nervosa?
2) Pizzeria Moretti
328 Wellington Avenue West
Moretti was a recent new discovery. My best friend wanted to try this place on her birthday exactly a year ago after seeing their fettucine all’astice (lobster pasta) on Instagram. The lobster pasta was disappointing but I remember seing the truffle mac and cheese on the menu.
I’m not a huge fan of mac and cheese. I’ll eat a bit of it if someone orders it but it’s not a dish I will order on my own. After internally debating whether or not to get it, I did. I’m glad I did because this is the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. No, really. Thinking about it now makes me drool. It’s creamy, cheesy and the black truffle paste is what makes it stand out.
I can 100% say that without truffle, that one ingredient, it wouldn’t be one of my favourites. I haven’t had it many times because shortly after trying it for the first time, COVID hit. This place was on UberEats but as you may know, I lived in midtown Toronto so Moretti didn’t deliver to my area. Now that I’m back in Hong Kong, who knows when the next time I’ll be able to eat Moretti’s truffle mac and cheese?
3) Dimmi Bar & Trattoria
140 Cumberland Street
Dimmi is only a few minute walk from Nervosa, which means it’s also in Yorkville. Why does Yorkville have such yummy pasta restaurants? I get the fusilli con pollo at Dimmi. It’s a pesto cream pasta with chicken and mushrooms. I always ask for sprinkled parmesan cheese on top. Watching the cheese melt into the pasta while steam is coming out is satisfying. I love hearing that sound when you mix hot pasta. I never get pesto pastas at restaurants unless it’s pesto cream pasta. This is the only place where I eat pesto pasta. Pesto alone isn’t satisfying like something isn’t quite right. It’s because the cream isn’t there. See how crazy I am for creamy pasta?
After COVID hit Toronto in March 2020, the only time I went out to eat was at Dimmi. It was in September 2020. The weather was nice, the cases were relatively low and it was outdoor dining. I had no plans eating out until this whole thing was mostly over but I made an exception for this place. However, I was extremely cautious when I ate out. I only took off my mask when I ate and had it on all other times. I got paranoid so I was worried I would catch COVID-19 during the 15 minutes or so I had my mask off. Thank god I was okay.
Good Italian restaurants might not immediately pop into your head when you think of Toronto but surprisingly, the city does have a lot of good Italian restaurant options. Have you tried any of these? If not, do you have plans to?
For more restaurant recommendations, check out Boston’s seafood restaurants if you’re near the area or will be visiting there soon.