If you were asked to list your essentials to a perfect neighbourhood, what would make the list? For me, one of the essential neighbourhood amenities would have to be a casual restaurant to stop in for a bite and a glass of wine with a good chance of running into a friendly face. Wouldn’t you agree? In The Junction, the Annette Food Market is exactly that.Located at 240 Annette Street, just east of Quebec, this fun neighbourhood spot was named after the original grocery store that occupied the building. Owned by Max and Amara Mancuso, the restaurant is also conveniently located right next door to The Good Neighbour Espresso Bar, also owned by the couple. The Good Neighbour is one of my faves. I stop in for a caffeine fix whenever I’m in the neighbourhood. I wrote more about it for the Urbaneer.
I spend quite a bit of time working in The Junction, but I haven’t had an opportunity to stop by Annette Food Market until now. Walking into this place automatically puts a smile on my face. At dinner time, there is a friendly buzz with guests sipping cocktails at the bar and others enjoying one of the many wine selections offered and starting on their freshly-prepared dishes. The Mancusos display their love for wine with over 20 varieties on the menu. But don’t fret if you’re not a wine connoisseur. The wines are cleverly categorized on a chalkboard that runs the length of the dining room to help patrons navigate the wine options.
This charming space seats about 30 in the main dining room with additional seating in a private dining room available for special events and larger groups. The simple and warm decor fits the friendly vibe of this eatery perfectly. After all, less is more when creating a cozy place. Give me charming wood and brick accents, a bit of reclaimed furniture pieces like the church pews here, marble top tables and lots of bar seating and you’ve got my attention. But add a glow of the wood-burning oven and the sent of fresh pizza and garlic goodness and my heart is yours forever!
The wood-burning oven was inherited from the pervious owner, and thank goodness because a Neapolitan-style pizza is a classic crowd pleaser. Needless to say, we order two. Its super-thin crust, which is made from dough aged for three days, is salty, crispy and chewy in all the right places, with a nice amount of char. The staff encourages ordering dishes to share, which is a great way to try a variety of dishes on the menu. Most are Italian-influenced, rustic dishes – house-made pastas, short ribs and roasted vegetables, and of course, pizzas.
Although we should have probably stopped at the pizza, we couldn’t resist an order of the risotto balls. Needless to say, we gobbled those delicious morsels of cheesy goodness in seconds! I really wish I had more room for pasta because I just have a feeling it would not disappoint.
As the food was terrific, the service was equally great. Although we didn’t make a reservation, we were seated right away and offered refreshments. Even though the restaurant was busy with the beginning of the dinner service, our server was always around keeping an eye on our table, making sure we were happy with the food, yet not overly attentive (you know what I mean?). I’m glad I finally had a chance to try out this spot. It was well worth it!
What’s your favourite neighbourhood eatery in Toronto? Do you have a go-to pizza place? Are you looking for a new neighbourhood to call home and would you like to find out more about life in The Junction? Let me know in the comments below.