Yorkville is known for its poshness, with celebrity studded dinners at Sassafraz or people watching at Remy’s patio. Before the Lamborghinis and Ferraris line Cumberland St. for happy hour, are there any workaday eats and treats for the locals? We set out to find out. Here’s a handful of eats and treats to occupy those summer lunchtime hours.
Caffe di Portici
At the corner of Scollard and Yonge, across from the Masonic Temple now MTV, Caffe di Portici’s patio and its adjacent park gives a little extra sense of space so rare downtown. Yes, I do realize the area was once called Uptown, but sprawl keeps moving these lines up.
We started with an Insalata di Pasta -- tri-colour fusilli, artichoke, grilled vegetables, red onion, balsamic vinaigrette. It tasted really fresh and healthy, a pleasant surprise for a starter the we almost considered an afterthought.
The real reason we’re here is the scrumptious pizza. They have an excellent crust at Caffe di Portici. Not quite Neapolitan, in that it’s not really elastic, but it has excellent firmness and chewiness. What I do love about their pizza the most is the option to add 2 eggs. Having runny yolks from eggs baked into your toppings is amazing. And the rest of the toppings are kind’a unique too.
We had the Chorizo Pizza -- chorizo, green onions, potatoes, cheddar on tomato sauce + of course 2 eggs. I love potatoes on my pizza. These weren’t your common scalloped potatoes, but nicely seasoned soft chunks. And the chorizo tasted pretty authentic too, with great seasoning and a good bite.
Yet another Frozen Yogurt place you may ask? Well yeah! The quality of froyo at Yoco doesn’t even approach Menchie’s, but location, location, location. If you happen to be chillin’ in the park right by former mayor Barbara Hall’s giant $250,000 rock, you’d be more inclined to cross the street than ride the 2 or 3 subway stops to the Annex.
Yoco has kind of an Asian twist, as you can also order smoothies and bubble tea. There’s a lot of fruity yogurt flavours as well, and even a green tea flavour. My advice is stick to the fruity flavours, avoid the normal flavours like chocolate or cappuccino as the base yogurt has a more sour note than typical froyo. The mango and green apple flavours were decent though.
Maybe they should’ve spent less money on the fancy Sony LEDs above the yogurt dispensers and a little more on the ingredients.
Metropolis Bake Shop
The oddly named “bake shop” is actually a Korean lunch spot where you can get your filling yet healthy meal on the cheap. For $7 you can get bibimbap -- rice, glass noodles, beef, carrots, bean sprouts, mushrooms, spinach and a a fried egg + a side soup and kimchi. For the same price you can get a hot soup instead.
The photos below are of pork bone soup, and a spicy beef soup. The soups come with lots of veggies + a bowl of steamed rice and some sides that randomly change from kimchi, to pickled potatoes, to tofu. The pork bone soup actually has tons of meat in it if you’re not squeamish about breaking a pig’s spine apart and picking in between the joints. An excellent flu season meal. The soups are also very hot as they are served in the pot they’re cooked in and vigorously boil for minutes after they arrive at your table.
Metropolis is in the Cumberland Terrace, on the ground floor by the Bay Street entrance. It’s a relatively quiet spot right beside high glass windows that let a lot of light in from Cumberland St.
Crème is tucked away in the Renaissance Courtyard, a little alley joining Cumberland St. and Yorkville Ave., right beside the old Four Seasons hotel. It has a great secluded patio that is bright and airy yet shielded from direct sunlight most of the time.
We had a Cappellini with a more than ample amount of fresh mussels, lobster, and calamari. We also had the best salmon dish. It had a very decadently creamy and rich sauce with a lot of buttery and woodsy mushroom taste. The salmon was stuffed with spinach and sat on a bed of perfectly cooked potatoes and asparagus, topped with a juicy slice of tomato. That was a yummy weekday lunch!
To end our Yorkville lunch adventures we have some authentic gelato.
.Gelato Simply Italian
I don’t know if I want to call it Simply Italian, .Gelato, or just that gelato place. Either way, they have some of the best gelato I’ve ever tasted. Certainly as good as anything I've had in Florence, though there are specific spots in Toronto that do particular flavours better than others. It’s located in this little nondescript spot under a parking structure beside Hemingway’s that used to be a sandwich shop. Looking at the pictures you can only imagine how good everything tastes. I order with my eyes coz all the flavours are in Italian. I mean I have a rough idea of what things are, but since you can see chunks of the fresh ingredients, visuals are a pretty safe guide.
My favourite flavour thus far is Bruttomabuono, which is essentially Ferrero Rocher in gelato form, with tons of crunchy hazelnuts and globs of chocolate hazelnut ribbons in a chocolate base. The vanilla strawberry is also a good bet with loads of fresh strawberries. The hazelnut gelato is also really good. One time they had a balsamic flavoured gelato which was tasty but excessively sweet. There are also heavier frozen custards and lighter sorbets. A good and bad thing about this place is that the flavours always change. It’s good in that you can try different things, it’s bad in that the next time you drop by for something you love, it might not be there any more.
So that’s a brief sampling of Yorkville food in daytime. A little French, a little Korean, a little Italian. It’s a great neighborhood to walk around, with an eclectic mix of shops and places to eat.
Posted by: Mark Rodas