Located in one of Toronto’s last artisan/manufacturing strips, Famiglia Baldassarre supplies the city’s chefs with 27 types of fresh pasta of Italian tradition. And for two hours, four days a week, this fresh pasta shop also offers a lunch menu of two pastas and two sauce options. As the window of time to dine-in or takeout is quite short, you can expect a line before doors even open.
Although a popular lunch option in the neighbourhood, this spot used to keep a low profile out of necessity. For over a year, owner Leandro Baldassarre did not have a licence to serve food and would post the lunch menu on the business Instagram hoping not to get caught by city inspectors. In a way he was operating a pasta speakeasy, which we love. With great risk comes great reward.
It may not be a secret anymore, but it’s still truly something special. The line was particularly lengthy the Friday we visited, so we were thankful to be allowed to come in early to film and photograph Leandro and his team at work. There is such beauty in stretching hand-pulled mozzarella from fresh milk, folding impossibly-long sheets of pasta for ravioli, and the precision of piping the fresh ricotta and spinach filling. Not to mention the luck we had in seeing them crack open a brand new wheel of parmigiano that had just arrived.
It is clear than the quality of ingredients, but also of the work is paramount at Baldassarre. We asked Leandro if he would open longer hours, but he replied that he wouldn’t be able to until he had the right team in place to ensure that it would not compromise the quality.
As lunch service began we dove our forks into fresh Ravioli in Blanco and in Rosso. There is nothing quite like savoury pasta you’ve just seen made by hand with your own eyes. Superior flavour, texture, and hospitality. Be sure to get some bread from the communal bread basket where you order so that you can mop up every last bit of sugo.
In addition to lunch on-site, products are served at some of Toronto’s most popular restaurants (*cough cough* Piano Piano and O&B to name a few) and you can try their products at home from local shops across the city.
Visit Famiglia Baldassarre at 122 Geary Avenue.