The family behind Grande Cheese have opened up the beautiful Alimento Fine Food Emporium on King West in Toronto. It's a little slice of Italian food heaven, with each authentic item specially curated for the store. The site has sat vacant for over a year and it's a pleasure to see how the space has translated into a specialty food store. Alimento's interior is surrounded in exposed brick walls, supporting beams and rustic hardwood.
If you do plan a visit, make sure to pick up a bottle of their house label olive oil for only $11. You can even bring the empty bottle back for a refill and you'll only be charged $9.50. I'm trying to make the switch to higher quality olive oil as I am told that you can't be sure what other oils that cheaper versions have been mixed with.
Getting our fill
Fell in love at first sight with their Italian cookie and biscotti bar. Mix and match a bunch as hostess gifts or to serve with a strong coffee for dessert next time you have guests.
The amaretti cookie was soft on the inside, crispy on the outside and my top choice. It deserves to be savoured.
Desserts-to-go in a handy jar are $5/each and make a great little birthday present for a co-worker or individual desserts that your guests can pick and choose from. Layered beautifully were the Tiramisu and Italian Birthday Cake.
Of course, being owned by Grande Cheese - expect a fancy cheese counter. They plan on making fresh mozzarella on-site soon. Since I moved from the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood to the west side, this will be my destination for charcuterie. Bread is also baked in-house.
We found a wide variety of prosciutto, salami and mortadella at their deli counter.
Olive and antipasto bar (above). The fresh pasta is also made specifically for Alimento, to meet their high standards for what they think pasta should be. At $3.49 a package, it was not any more expensive than your average grocery store.
Imported olive oils and vinegars
Alimento doesn't have a fresh produce section, but they do carry some basics like potatoes and in-season fruit.
Attached to the store is a the Mozza Bar with cheese tastings, charcuterie, pasta, pizza and aperitvo for the King West set.
The restaurant gets lots of bright light and a long marble communal table runs along the side. Alimento Fine Food Emporium, Toronto - www.Alimento.ca. 522 King Street West, metered street parking in front. (416) 362-0123.