T.O.’s best spaghetti and meatballs

Top Toronto chef Grant van Gameren tucks into the classic old-school Italian comfort food


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Top Toronto chef Grant van Gameren tucks into the GTA’s best spaghetti and meatballs, the classic old-school Italian comfort food.

 

WINNER: LOVE AT FIRST BITE (pictured above)
The Big Ragu, 1338 Lansdowne ave., $16
“This one smells delicious,” van Gameren says. He happily reports that the sauce has a nice acidity, the meatballs are the perfect consistency, the noodles are properly al dente and the salt is spot on.

Meatballs like Nonna makes
Abruzzo Pizza, 9010 Yonge St., $10 + $1 per meatball
The flavourful sauce in this dish stands out right away. “The meatballs’ consistency is like a Nonna’s meatball,” van Gameren finds. “It’s more like an emulsified, Mortadella texture, which I really like.” The meatballs are really traditional, he adds, with a good, fine grind. This dish is a definite runner-up.

Lots of love in sauce
Hey Meatball!, 719 College St., $11
“The sauce looks like there’s been a lot of love put in to it,” chef says. The noodles are nice and bouncy, and the meatballs spiced and moist. He wishes there were a tad more salt, but it’s also a close runner-up.

A homemade basic
Cafe Diplomatico, 594 College St., $10.99 + $3.29
“This one looks homemade,” van Gameren says. It’s a basic take on spaghetti and meatballs, he says, for anyone who doesn’t like a lot of spice or seasoning. Van Gameren finds it a bit lacklustre.

On a citrus note
Camarra Pizzeria Ristorante, 2899 Dufferin St., $11.95 + $4.95
The combination of spices in these meatballs is quite unique, van Gameren says. He’s not a big fan of the citrus note he detects in this dish’s flavour profile. The pasta, however, is cooked to perfection.

Chunky sauce adds spunk
Paisano's, 116 Willowdale Ave., $15
Van Gameren appreciates the chunky tomato sauce in this dish. Though the meatballs are nice and moist, he finds them a bit bland. The pasta’s nice, van Gameren adds, but the sauce could be cooked a little longer.

Meat lover’s delight
Rossini Restaurant, 1988 Avenue Rd., $13.50
This is the only dish that has a Bolognese sauce, van Gameren says. “The more meat, the better.” The hearty sauce is a hit, but he finds the noodles overdone, and overall, this dish doesn’t leave the warmest impression.

Flavour’s the spice of life
Quattro 4 Ragazze, 1792 Danforth Ave., $11
Van Gameren immediately comments, “The meatballs are super tender and moist.” They have a strong taste, which he suspects is either aged beef or a game meat. The meatballs are sweeter than he would like, but they complement the tasty, original spice blend well.

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