Sugo

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope you all are having a great week so far.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I love finding great new local restaurants to try! And as much as I love checking out new places and trying new types of cuisine, there’s also something to be said for an old favourite: a classic restaurant where you know the food is good and you’ll always have a great experience. The restaurant I’m going to review today is one of those places: they serve up delicious comfort-food dishes in a friendly, unpretentious environment. If you live in (or near) Toronto and are a fan of Italian food, you’ve likely heard of it – in fact, it’s become a bit of a cult favourite in the city! The restaurant I’m talking about is Sugo.

Located on Bloor Street West near Lansdowne, Sugo was founded by co-owners Alex Wallen and Conor Joerin in 2017. It was an immediate sensation! In a city dominated by high-end Italian restaurants where you can expect to pay upwards of $25 for a small plate of pasta, Sugo – with its affordable prices, large portions and unfussy atmosphere – was a refreshing change.

Sugo is a seriously popular spot, they don’t take reservations, and their space is small – maybe about ten tables. All this means that if you’re hoping to dine in, you should show up right when they open, or expect a wait – and sometimes, you’ll wait even if you show up early! We arrived on a Sunday just before their opening time of 11:30am, and there was already a line forming down the block. Luckily, we were able to be seated right away, but they offer a first-come, first-serve waitlist once they’re at capacity. The small, no-frills space is decorated like a classic Italian joint, with red-and-white checkered tablecloths, and framed covers of vintage boxing magazines adorning the walls. 

In my opinion, the best way to eat at Sugo is to bring a small group, order several dishes, and share everything family-style. I’d been to Sugo with my parents before, but recently, we went the four of us (me, my parents and Tania) to introduce her to Sugo’s famous pasta dishes. 

We started with a classic appetizer: the garlic bread. It was fluffy, buttery and very garlicky: everything garlic bread should be! Note that Sugo doesn’t serve regular bread, so you’ll have to get the garlic bread if you want a carb to go with your… well, carbs. (Hey, I told you this was comfort food!) An order of garlic bread includes three slices, so keep that in mind if you’re sharing – we probably should have ordered a second plate, but we were saving room for the next dish: a Caesar salad. This is a classic Caesar: romaine lettuce tossed in a creamy dressing and topped with pancetta, croutons, and lots and lots of parmesan (just the way I like it!) In fact, everyone was a big fan of this salad.

We had ordered three main dishes to share: the spaghetti pomodoro, gnocchi and eggplant parmigiana. Both the spaghetti and gnocchi are served with a hefty portion of Sugo’s famous red sauce (“sugo” literally means “tomato sauce” in Italian) and topped with fresh parsley, parmesan (on the spaghetti) and whipped ricotta (on the gnocchi). You can’t go wrong with any of Sugo’s pasta dishes, but the eggplant parmigiana was everyone’s favourite – it was so good! (You can also get chicken or veal parmigiana.)

Despite us all being stuffed after our lunch, we had to finish with something sweet. We shared a plate of cannoli, which includes two chocolate chip cannoli and one pistachio cannoli (my favourite!)

You may (or may not) be surprised to learn that I’m already thinking of what to order on my next visit to Sugo: I’ve been meaning to try the meatball sandwich, as well as their famous tiramisu. (You can view the full menu on the restaurant’s website.) You can also keep an eye on their Instagram where they share news about their rotating specials, such as this delightful-looking Spaghetti Pesto Cream!

Just last month, Sugo’s owners opened a new restaurant – Bar Sugo – right next door to the original location. Bar Sugo serves many of the same appetizers and mains as Sugo, but with a notable menu addition: pizza! I can’t wait to try it out.

Have you been to Sugo? What’s your favourite dish on the menu?

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