Four years after Canada’s first-ever Eataly opened at Bay and Bloor, we’re getting a second outpost—and this one, located in what was once a Pickle Barrel, comes with free parking. That makes us one of only two cities in North America to house more than one of the Italian-food meccas. In fact, by early next year, we’ll have three—a Don Mills location is also currently in the works. Why all this investment in Toronto? According to Tommaso Brusò, CEO of Eataly North America, “Toronto is where we want to be. The GTA is growing, and the people here have a great appreciation for good food.”
At 25,000 square feet, the Sherway Gardens location is half the size of the Yorkville flagship, but that doesn’t make shopping there any less overwhelming—and we mean that in the best way possible. The market boasts an enormous grocery selection, a mozzarella lab, a cheesemonger, a deli, four quick-service counters (for baked goods, coffee, gelato and pastries) and two sit-down restaurants. It’s a cornucopia of Italian comestibles that’s best enjoyed with an espresso or Barolo in hand. That’s right, the entire space is licensed, which means you can sip while shopping.
Related: A survival guide to Eataly
Toronto just became the second city in North America to house more than one Eataly. The Italian emporium’s sprawling new spot at Sherway Gardens includes two sit-down restaurants, four quick-service counters and a massive grocery store. For the rest of the tour, check out http://torontolife.com #torontorestaurants #italianrestaurant #eatalytoronto
♬ Old-fashioned Clapboard – DJ BAI
There are 363 seats spread across the space. Hungry visitors have the option of a formal sit-down meal at one of the two dine-in restaurants, Il Pastaio or La Pizza e La Pasta. For something a little more casual, customers can settle in at one of these high-tops. (Come spring 2024, a patio will add another 90 seats.)
This glass-encased island of cheese and cured meats is stocked with about 200 different items (many of which are DOPs), including 300-day-aged gorgonzolas and rare parmigiano reggianos such as Vacche Rosse, made from the milk of heritage-breed red cows. The cheese selection will change seasonally, so over the course of a year, 500 varieties will make their way into this vitrine.
The salumi selection is a mix of cured meats from Italy and Ontario, with the bulk of the offerings coming from the Boot. Expect to find Italy’s most famous DOP prosciutto crudos (Prosciutto di Parma, Prosciutto San Daniele, Prosciutto di Modena, Prosciutto Toscano, Prosciutto di Carpegna), some of which are aged for up to 30 months, as well as decadent charcuterie-board musts like Gran Biscotto Rovagnati al Tartufo, a truffle-studded prosciutto cotto.
Those with a predilection for fresh cheese will gravitate toward the mozzarella lab, where fior di latte, burrata and stracciatella are made throughout the day. Not into Canadian curds? Eataly also carries freshly flown-in mozzarella di bufala and burrata.
The wine section, populated with about 500 labels, stocks bottles from all 20 Italian wine regions, including Tuscany (Brunello, Sangiovese) and Piedmont (Barolo, Nebbiolo). They also carry amari, vermouth, aperitivi and spirits—all Italian, of course. However, because the location has a restaurant license, customers buying bottles to go must also purchase food. There are also fridges lined with chilled beer and wine.
More than 100 different dried pasta varieties are sold here. Customers will find everything from gluten-free noodles to rare pasta shapes, like busiate (a long, spiralled Sicilian pasta) and pici (a thick hand-rolled pasta, kind of like a fat spaghetti, from Tuscany), as well as ones flavoured with things like lemon, truffle, chili and cuttlefish ink.
More than two dozen fresh pastas—a mix of filled, flat and bronze-extruded—are also made on site. Highlights include black truffle agnolotti, prosciutto ravioli, chitarra, lumache and gnocchi.
In the grab-and-go fridges, customers will find heat-and-eat meals, including fresh pastas, sauces, meatballs, soups, sides and snacks.
The mercato features hundreds of products, including hard-to-find extra-virgin olive oil, Modena’s best balsamic vinegars, exquisite tomato sauces (we’re partial to the stuff made from yellow tomatoes), and an extensive selection of chocolates and cookies.
For the holidays, the store will stock 40 different kinds of panettone, including Eataly’s brand-new line of the sweet bread, which comes in four flavours: classic, orange-and-chocolate, pistachio cream and pandoro.
La Panetteria and Pizza alla Pala is just one of the four quick-service food counters. Here, they make panini and Roman pizza: thick-crusted, bakery-style pies made from hand-stretched, long-fermented dough. The pizzas are cooked at exactly 581°F in an electric Moretti oven with a stone floor. This is also where you’ll find all the freshly baked bread, including 10 different types of focaccia.
La Pasticceria, the pastry counter, is where you’ll find Eataly’s many just-made sweet treats, including tiramisu, biscotti, cannoli, panna cotta, cakes, cornetti and more. It’s located right next to Il Gran Caffè for a perfect mid-afternoon pairing.
Here’s the fourth food counter: a gelato bar with more than a dozen rotating flavours (all made with local Ontario milk) on offer year-round.
There are only two other Il Pastaio restaurants among Eataly’s nearly 50 locations. The fresh pasta–focused restaurant will double as a school, with classes to start next year. That’s why there’s a mirror behind the cooks—it allows diners to get a better glimpse of how the magic is made.
Agnolotti del plin are filled with roasted veal shank and served in a veal sugo with soffritto, escarole, house-made Italian sausage and parmigiano reggiano. $29
Malloreddus alla Campidanese (a shell-shaped, hand-rolled semolina pasta infused with saffron) is served in a sausage ragu and topped with pecorino Romano. $27
Fans of the flagship location will be familiar with La Pizza e la Pasta, what Eataly calls its “signature experience.” The pizza-and-pasta concept is found in all North American Eataly locations.
The pizzas served at La Pizza e la Pasta are all Neapolitan style. This one’s a margherita, baked in a 900°F wood-fired oven fuelled by oak and beech logs. The kitchen can crank out hundreds of these every day, as the oven can fit about six pies at a time and each one takes around a minute to bake. $19
The primi options will include familiar pastas such as spaghetti cacio e pepe ($25), tagliatelle alla bolognese ($29) and spaghetti al pomodoro ($18).
Here’s one of the secondi: a grilled Mediterranean branzino served with Taggiasca olives, capers and chopped tomatoes. $49
This PEI rib-eye steak is a show-stopper. It’s accompanied by crispy parmigiano reggiano potatoes. $44
In celebration of the restaurant’s newly launched house panettone, it will offer the iconic holiday confection as a dessert item, served with a choice of whipped mascarpone, chocolate sauce or Chantilly cream.