#CityBites – The Best Restaurants in GTA

It’s time to come out of hibernation. Here are eight dishes worth hunting down from a handful of the GTA’s most inspired chefs.

Is there anything more satisfying than sinking your teeth into a perfectly cooked steak, organic and aged to perfection, or a fresh seafood dish garnished with vibrant local produce? City Life brings our distinguished epicures a menu of local fare that is the perfect combo of comfort and class, and there’s something for everyone.

1. Villaggio Ristorante

Since undergoing a major facelift this winter, Villaggio Ristorante has reopened with a fresh, modern vibe and a new spring menu. In Villaggio’s Polpo, octopus is marinated with fresh herbs and lemon, then grilled and served with mashed potatoes and confit tomatoes. The dish is finished with a balsamic glaze and extra-virgin olive oil.

Chef: Matteo Napoleoni
Dish: Polpo
Address: 110 Nashville Rd., Kleinburg, Ont.

2. TheSmoke

Chef Cam Dyment, owner and executive chef of TheSmoke, is serious about barbecue. The Rib and Wing Combo includes hickory-smoked pork back ribs, with over a pound of signature smoked wings. The ribs are dry rubbed with two delicious rubs, a sweet rub on the top and TheSmoke’s basic rub on the underside, then smoked with hickory pellets for five to six hours. Finally, the wings are rubbed with the chef’s secret chicken rub and smoked for two and a half hours (drool!).

Chef: Cam Dyment, executive chef
Dish: Rib and Wing Combo
Address: 3560 Major Mackenzie Dr. W., Vaughan, Ont.

3. Joey Restaurant

Joey Restaurants serve up internationally inspired fare, influenced by bold flavours from around the world. The Katsu Chicken Salad is one of Joey’s newest dishes rolling out as part of the fresh spring menu. “Chicken Katsu” is a Japanese dish built around a seasoned crispy chicken breast, popular in Hawaii. This is the foundation to the Katsu Chicken Salad, topped with a refreshing salad of green papaya, kale, vegetables and peanuts, all tossed in a miso carrot dressing.

Chef: Chef Rupert Martin, CCC, VP of Culinary Operations East, Joey Restaurants
Dish: Katsu Chicken Salad
Address: CF Sherway Gardens, 25 The West Mall, Etobicoke, Ont.

4. Smash Kitchen + Bar

Chef Mark Esguerra is classically trained in French and Italian cuisine. He began his career in Toronto’s top restaurants, Canoe and Auberge du Pommier, and quickly rose to be the opening executive chef of Smash Kitchen. Smash Kitchen + Bar focuses on southern comfort cuisine and its techniques revolve around smoking and braising lots of meats. The Half Rack and Mac features a half rack of BBQ ribs, L.A. mac and cheese, chipotle-lime-roasted corn and a creamy coleslaw.

Chef: Mark Esguerra, executive chef
Dish: Half Rack and Mac
Address: 4261 Hwy. 7, Unionville, Ont.

5. 255 by Alta Rossa

With more than 35 years in the industry, 255 by Alta Rossa provides a fresh new take on authentic Italian cuisine. The restaurant’s modern interior and rustic charm set the ambience for a unique gourmet experience. The Bumble Bee Pescatore al Vino Bianco is a fine combination of clams, garlic and shallots, sautéed in white wine and fish stock, and tossed with sea scallops, mussels, shrimp and octopus over an al dente bed of fresh pasta.

Chef: Gabe Tatangelo Occhiuto, executive chef
Dish: Bumble Bee Pescatore al Vino Bianco
Address: 255 Bass Pro Mills Dr., #703a, Concord, Ont.

6. XXI Chophouse

XXI Chophouse offers an incredible variety of carefully selected organic local meats, along with a wide selection of wild fish from different regions of the world. Chef Sam Khalil strives to bring to a guest’s table the finest-quality product using innovative cooking techniques. For the Tomahawk Steak, XXI always selects the finest cuts of meat and dry ages it for a minimum of 60 days. This helps to reduce beef moisture in order to increase flavour and to soften meat tissue, resulting in a tender and flavourful steak.

Chef: Sam Khalil, executive chef
Dish: 48-oz Tomahawk Steak
Address: 21 Nashville Rd., Kleinburg, Ont.

7. Stonefire Bar and Grill

Stonefire’s chic and upscale décor pairs perfectly with Chef Mauro Venchiarutti’s menu, boasting the ideal combination of classic and contemporary dishes. Chef’s Lobster Marinara includes a delicious squid ink linguine with fresh scallops, mussels, baby clams, black tiger shrimp and broiled Atlantic lobster tail in a zesty marinara sauce.

Chef: Mauro Venchiarutti, owner and executive chef
Dish: Lobster Marinara
Address: 8700 Bathurst St., Thornhill, Ont.

8. Gourmet Bistro

Nestled in the heart of Thornhill, G Bistro presents patrons with classic gourmet bistro fare and original creations with globally inspired flavours, as diverse as the community it caters to. The Surf and Turf features a flame-grilled, 11-oz choice Chicago ribeye with pan-seared jumbo scallops and black tiger shrimp, served on a bed of cheesy cheddar mash and glazed fresh market vegetables. This delightful dish is finished with a red wine demi-glaze.

Chef: Donna Fillmore, owner, and Shawn Shapiro, events coordinator
Dish: Surf and Turf
Address: 8707 Dufferin St., Thornhill, Ont.

photos by carlos a. pinto / dolce media group

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