Also referred to as College Street West, Little Italy is known for it’s superb Italian-Canadian restaurants. During the weekends the streets are buzzing with visitors and locals dining on the outdoor patios. The Italian trattorias have a casual, family-friendly vibe and they are all about good, traditional recipes cooking with fresh ingredients.
Little Italy isn’t a 100% Italian neighbourhood – while there is a strong Italian community there is also a significant Portuguese population located around the Portugal Village shopping centre and the First Portuguese Canadian Cultural Centre.
Must Visit Spots in Little Italy
- La Forchetta Ristorante is the classic Italian dining experience, with pasta and meat dishes originating in the Old Country. Plus – they have a superb wine list to pair with your entree.
- If you are into live music there are a lot of great places to check out in Little Italy, including the Mod Club or the basement of Nightowl.
- Check out Cafe Diplomatico. Known as “The Dip” by locals, this coffee shop and restaurant has become an institution for caffeine fiends in Toronto. It also serves up all of the Italian classics including paninis, pizzas and more. If it looks familiar to you, it’s because filmmakers often use it as a set.
- Rita’s Italian Ice serves up delicious frozen treats in a ton of different flavours – the ultimate treat for a warm day.
- Check out the Italian Walk of Fame – where stars line the sidewalk with the names of famous Italian Canadians.
Large numbers of Italian immigrants came to Toronto in the early 20th century, settling in the area around College Street in the affordable Edwardian homes there. Most found work on the railways or in road construction and many started businesses in the area.
It was during the 1920s that Little Italy really became recognized as the commercial and residential centre of the Italian community in Toronto. These days the area is home to the largest Italian community that is located outside of Italy and it is a popular area of the city for visitors to explore.
How to Get There
It’s quite simple to get here via the TTC. You can arrive from Queens Park or start from College Station on the Yonge-University-Spadina Line. Then, from there you can catch the 506 Carlton streetcar towards High Park traveling west on College Street. You can disembark anywhere between Bathurst Street and Ossington Avenue.
You can also travel from Bathurst Station on the Bloor-Danforth Line. When you exit, catch the 511 Carlton Towards Exhibition streetcar traveling south on Bathurst Street. You can disembark at College Street West. Exploring this street on foot is a delight, give yourself plenty of time to dip into the little shops and cafes to sample what they have to offer.