La Palma is a sleek and elegant Italian restaurant and cafe spot in downtown Toronto's West End. It serves as a takeaway spot during the day and transforms into a smart and fashionable restaurant with polished cocktails at night. They also serve breakfast and brunch, and it is very clear that La Palma wants to bring a cool, balmy and sexy Californian vibe to Toronto's buzzing city.
La Palma used to be one of many cute cafes situated along Dundas West. During its construction and remodel, the new owners (Harding and Hutchison) decided to recreate the space while still preserving the hub spot that carries a little bit of everything. This is great because the food caters to a spontaneous dining public, as their careful menu of gourmet and ready-made Italian eats are perfect for an elegant dining room and a blanket at your local park. (Trinity Bellwoods, perhaps?)
One of La Palma's most notorious and classic dishes is the mozzarella and bolognese 100-layer lasagna ($18). It is not only beautifully presented, with a crispy torched parmesan crust overtop garnished with fresh basil, but with every bite, the lasagna delivers a soft crunch on every single layer. This recipe is actually based on the owner's nonna's recipe: rested overnight, then fried in olive oil to get a crispy crust on the edges. It is truly delectable.
The owners wanted the new menu to be a tad healthier than most (remember, California vibes), and for the food and overrall aesthetic to hearten and encourage a Venice Beach atmosphere. This latest casual spot offers a menu that is all northern Italy inspired but with a lighter twist, illustrated through their pastel colored dining room and gentle, laid-back Californian appearance.
They also offer other Italian dishes like oxtail gnocchi ($17), Campagnolo donuts ($3.50), mackeral escabeche with caramelized scallions ($10), and aged Ontario striploin cooked to fatty, tender perfection ($49).
La Palma's interiors are gentle and balmy, with collective pastel colours beautifully painted on their walls, giving off an old Hollywood and art deco vibe. An impressive aqua-coloured mural with slashes of drippy black and baby pink envelops the restaurant walls, and it is very pleasing to the eye. It resembles beachy street art, very dissimilar to Toronto's vibrant street arts. To add to the allure, there are specially-commissioned nude paintings that hang in their bathrooms. La Palma is pure California cool with an Italian twist.
La Palma is located at 849 Dundas St W. in Toronto, and the are open Monday to Friday from 11:30am to 11pm, and weekends from 9am to 11pm.
For more info, please visit their website.