An odd thing happened over the past year: one after another, some of my favourite restaurants closed up shop and reopened as something new. It wasn’t that they were flops—the owners or chefs had decided they wanted to change course, go back to their roots or simply chase their bliss. This has worked out well for the hungry public. The class of 2019 has originality and heart to spare in every wood-fired steak, meticulously arrayed seafood plate, rustic bowl of pasta and glass of low-intervention wine. Here’s a tour of the most exciting new restaurants right now.
Best New Restaurants 2019: Constantine
Constantine is one of the Best!
The chef Craig Harding’s Campagnolo and La Palma are the laid-back, tanned distant cousins of Toronto’s Italian restaurant family: lighter, more seasonally minded, more Californian. At his new restaurant, occupying most of the ground floor of the Anndore House, a new boutique hotel, he’s taking a culinary side trip to Lebanon, Greece and Spain. He’s still making his signature bubbling and blackened cacio e pepe pizzas and handmade pastas, but the real treats come from the wood-fired grill: whole sea bream, skin charred and drizzled with Greek olive oil; kebabs of sumac-dusted lamb belly smeared with labneh; and especially plates of charred red cabbage (with pickled apple and chunks of walnut) or tabbouleh (with pomegranate seeds and grilled radicchio). There’s a small side café with takeout pastries, which you’ll wish was closer to your office, and a romantically low-lit bar that’s become, in the months since it opened, one of the nicest places downtown for an after-work curative.