Fun with Food in Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market district

(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Even though I lived in Toronto for three years in the early 1990s, I cannot claim to have seen all the city had to offer.  In particular, for reasons that are unclear, I never made it to St. Lawrence Market while I was living there.  Given its proximity to Union Station, I have managed to stop by on a couple of recent visits to Toronto.  If you are at all interested in “specialty foods”, I think it is well worth a visit.

Jarvis Street, just north of St. Lawrence Market, in downtown Toronto
The corner of Jarvis and King Streets, just north of St. Lawrence Market, in downtown Toronto

While the Market clears out as its 7:00 p.m. closing time approaches (that’s when I took the photo at the top of this post), it is extremely busy during the day.  Some of this is tourist traffic but there is still quite a local presence:  tourists generally aren’t showing up at the 7:00 a.m. opening.   Weekends are particularly busy and you may be tempted to give it a pass in the late morning or early afternoon.

I was in search of unusual cheese on this visit.  One of the vendors had lengthy descriptions of its imported offerings and something called “Parrano” caught my eye.  One of its slogans is “the Dutch cheese that thinks it is Italian”, so I asked for a sample.  Indeed, as advertised, it combines the texture of Gouda with the taste of Reggiano Parmigiano…I quickly declared it my new favourite cheese and picked up a wedge to bring home.

"G For Gelato" on Jarvis Street in Toronto
“G For Gelato” on Jarvis Street in Toronto

I also picked up some red Cerignola olives from one of the other vendors.  These are very large and mild-tasting olives but their radiant red colour makes them an interesting, albeit not essential, olive for snacking.

There has been a considerable amount of recent development in the Market neighbourhood.  While not all of it appeals to me, there was one restaurant that I wanted to try:  the innocuously-named “G for Gelato”, specializing in pizza and gelato.  These are two very important foods and I wanted to find answers to two burning questions:  did it live up to its billing as having Toronto’s best gelato?  And did its pizza also attain the heights suggested by its many positive on-line reviews?

My "Prosciutto Contadina" pizza at G For Gelato (featuring lots of arugula)
My “Prosciutto Contadina” pizza at G For Gelato (featuring lots of arugula)

The gelato was excellent.  It’s made on site so it wasn’t cheap…but neither was it extortionate.  I tried two scoops (Dark Chocolate Whiskey and Amaretto DiSaronno) in a cup and I’d have to agree that this was the best gelato I’ve had in Toronto, if not Canada.  There were about 30 flavours and they all were artfully presented.

Although we had intended to have gelato the night before when we had dinner at the same restaurant, our pizzas were quite substantial and we didn’t want to stuff ourselves before the concert.  The pizzas were also very good – certainly in the first tier, with top-quality and well-matched toppings.  Prices were comparable to other Toronto restaurants  but “G is for Gelato” includes taxes in its price.

Friday night in downtown Kingston
Friday night in downtown Kingston

We will definitely return here for more gelato…and, if it is at the right time of day, we will sit down for a no-nonsense but high-quality Italian meal.   Between “G For Gelato” and “Jumbo Empanadas” in the Kensington Market, I always look forward to eating in downtown Toronto!

We expect to go on another road trip next week – stay tuned!