Welcome to Little Italy
A vibrant, walkable, and social community
Little Italy is a diverse, vibrant, and lively community. The Victorian and Edwardian row houses and attached homes are as prominent today as they were a hundred years ago. Added to the mix, however, are more modern buildings and homes as well as mid-rise condominiums. While the shopping and restaurant districts on College and Dundas Streets are busy and bustling, the side streets are still quiet, tree-lined, and mainly residential.
One of the most remarkable things about Little Italy is its “walkability.” Nearly everything you need for daily life is readily available within walking distance. By default, this creates a very social community where neighbors know one another. Locals congregate at the cafes, live-music venues, restaurants, and festivals. When city life becomes hectic, they head for Bickford Park for a nature walk and some relaxation.
What to love
- Beautiful Victorian and Edwardian architecture with gables and spires
- Close to the University of Toronto and its many activities
- Upscale fine dining, trendy cafes, and bars
- Live music and festivals
- Fantastic ethnic foods, from Italian to Portuguese to Japanese and more
- Excellent public transportation to rapidly connect anywhere in Toronto
Little Italy can best be described as vibrant and alive. The locals are a diverse mix of people from hipsters all the way up to retired seniors because there’s something to please everyone in this neighborhood. Everything is within walking distance, and cab fare or searching for a parking spot isn’t usually necessary. There are dance clubs, live music, cafes, festivals, and the College Shaw Branch Public Library.
Dining, entertainment & shopping
Bar Raval is a great spot in Little Italy for a fun night and an outrageous cocktail. They also serve Spanish-inspired dishes. The shrimp a la Planxa makes for a great lunch. Of course, in Little Italy, one must have Italian food on occasion. Hands down, it’s instant “amore mio” with the smoked duck breast risotto at La Forchetta Ristorante.
Skippa is a fine Japanese restaurant where the sashimi and the sourdough bread with miso-infused butter will keep you coming back. But what’s life without dessert? It’s always a good time for Sicilian Ice Cream, based on a family recipe that has been passed down for generations. How does a chocolate caramel bombetta sound to you? A visit to the Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa is perfect for stress relief and relaxation.
You won’t have to travel far to do some shopping after lunch. If you’re in the market for a fine, handmade, haute couture hat, you must visit Lilliput Hats for an upscale experience in fashion. But if you’re feeling quirky and you’re into vinyl, check out Shortstack Records, a three-time nominee for the best record store in Toronto by NOW Magazine. When you live in an eclectic neighborhood like Little Italy, the choices are varied and surprising.
Things to do
The annual Taste of Little Italy festival is one of the high points of summer with games, live music, Italian food, and more. It brings visitors from all over Canada and strengthens the bonds of community members. And speaking of community, if live entertainment is what you’re after, check out The Axis Club for year-long events. For a slower pace, enjoy wildlife and nature walk at Bickford Park, a somewhat hidden sanctuary amid the hustle and bustle.