What sets Maker Pizza apart from all the other local pizzerias and restaurants? Our process. From beginning to end. Dough to final bake. Every step requires a laser-like focus. Right down to the finishings.

Do you feel that the combination of toppings that you offer are unique? Yes. Very unique. We offer harmonious flavour  combinations that grab your attention and jolt your tastebuds. The creative mind of Matty Matheson is a beautiful thing.

My favorite crust is the sesame crust. How did you come with that idea? It’s brilliant! That was Matty's idea. And it works exceptionally well with our dough. Something great to look forward to at the end of every slice. 

What inspired the menu at Maker Pizza? Delivery pizza especially has become so redundant. A pizza delivery chain adds Soppressata or thin crust to its menu and that's considered breaking the mold. Our goal was to create a menu that would obliterate the mold. And we have. The Maker menu has something special for every pizza lover.

Are there any future plans in expanding the menu further? Yes. Next week, in fact, we will be adding three new pizzas and one new salad to the menu. We are also making some minor changes to some of our existing menu items. We always strive to be better. There will probably never be Maker menu that is set in stone.

What’s your favorite pizza on the menu? The Siena Margherita. It showcases our dough and sauce. It is the Maker blueprint. Everything starts and ends with the Siena Margherita.

What was the biggest challenge that you faced when creating the pizza menu? Bar none, the biggest challenge was the dough. The goal for Maker from day one was to create a hybrid pizza that is a cross between a delivery pizza baked in an electric oven and a gourmet pizza baked in a wood burning oven. Creating a woodburning texture on what is truly a delivery style pizza.

I have quite a few friends who are home cooks, and they inspired to be in the food industry. What advice would you give to home chefs who are inspired by your style, and your cooking? I'm not a cook by any stretch of the imagination. But if you're passionate about what you're doing, do it more often. Inspiration can come from anything. A classic film. A beautifully crafted cup of coffee. Or a perfectly prepared Maker pizza.
Shopbake.com is Toronto's first online bakery marketplace offering an on-demand service that's solely based on sweets. The premise of the business is that they deliver baked goods from local bakeries or home bakers right to the customer's doors within a 90 minute time frame. 

I received a complimentary gift package this past weekend with some of the baked goods that are available to order online from ShopBake. I absolutely love sweets, and I often crave baked goods randomly throughout the day. So this service is something that definitely appealed to me. My package included chocoberry popcorn from Toronto Popcorn Co, Valentine royal iced cookie from Le Dolci, shortbread cookie from Mary Macleod's Shortbread, Hello Dolly gluten free bar from Sweets from the Earth, conversation heart mini cookie Pack from Branded Bites, and candy sushi from sweet C bakery. The box came with a nice variety of baked goods/treats, and was shared between my fiancé and I. I liked that it was delivered in a prettily-wrapped box (pictured below), so it's great as a gift for any occasion.

Shopbake.com allows customers to order and receive baked goods easily with a click of a button on their website (that is also mobile-friendly). They source baked goods from a variety of local bakeries such as Le Dolci, Toronto Popcorn Company, Jelly Modern Doughnuts, Short & Sweet Cupcakes, and more. There are plenty of other local home bakers available to choose from as well, which you can easily browse through to see on the site. It was pretty easy to browse through the list of baked goods and sweets online, and the search function yield plenty of results for specific items. The home page currently displays sweet treats that are Valentine's Day themed, which you can pre-order.

Personally, I don't have any dietary restrictions, but there is the option to search for baked goods that caters to one's dietary restrictions or specialty goods like nut-free, gluten-free, vegan, kosher, etc ...

ShopBake launched back in September 2014, and has since grown to amass a large number of vendors. Customers have the ability to customize their orders, and there are a variety of treats available from cookies, cupcakes, donuts, cupcakes, and etc ... It's also a great gift option for those who have sweet tooths, or just enjoy the occasional treat. Valentine's Day is coming up this Sunday, and there is still time to send that special someone a sweet treat from Shopbake.com.


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Disclaimer: The baked goods provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Le Dolci Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

ShopBake (shopbake.com)

by on Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Shopbake.com is Toronto's first online bakery marketplace offering an on-demand service that's solely based on sweets. The premise...
 Maman Toronto is a lovely bakery/cafe located on the mezzanine of First Canadian Place offering a taste of Southern France. It was a little tucked away in First Canadian Place (where the food court is), but it has a very rustic yet inviting ambiance. The entire cafe was adorned with cute bunny ceramics with flowers, wooden communal tables, and mosaic tile flooring, so it was very Instagram-friendly. There are already plenty of Instagram photos of their pretty coffee cups for your perusal online. Their menu also changes daily, and they offer an assortment of baked goods, coffee drinks, sandwiches, salads, and more.

Everything is baked fresh daily, and from locally-sourced ingredients. Maman recently launched tapas dishes on their menu, and I had the pleasure of attending the media preview of Maman's new tapas menu unveiling two weeks ago. The new menu was created by Michelin-starred chef, Armand Arnal, whose dishes are family-inspired recipes. Chef Armand Arnal is the head chef at the acclaimed La Chassagnette in Arles, France, and he has definitely added a lot of French flair to our city with the addition of Maman. As part of their cinq-as-sept bar program (5 pm to 7 pm); they also have a carefully curated wine and cocktail list that perfectly complements the tapas dishes served.

Herbes de Provence - calvados, lillet infused with herbes de
provence,lemon juice, sugar & egg whites
Le Vert - blanco tequilla, chartreuse, cucumber, lime & matcha

The new French inspired tapas menu features a selection of small and light sharing plates called "tartinettes" (the French version of tapas). Many of the tapas are served on toasted French baguette topped off with a variety of toppings. What I liked best was that customers are given the opportunity to customize their own tartinette board, and there are a few options available on the daily menu. Each tartinette costs $2.50, and the full menu can be view at http://mamantoronto.com/aperitifs/.

There were several tartinettes available that evening for tasting, and I was delighted that many of the combinations had flavors that worked rather well together. The kitchen produces contemporary French tartinettes dishes such as smoked ham with savora mustard & cornichon, roasted cauliflower with 2 year aged cheddar, smoked salmon with red onions, lemon & dill, and truffle "croque maman". Maman Toronto's new tapas menu caters very well to those who seek to partake in unwinding after work before dinner with their friends or colleagues. Maman Toronto is open Monday through Friday for breakfast, lunch and cinq-á-sept, and Saturday for brunch (closed on Sunday). Check out their website for their daily menu, as it changes everyday.

 Sweets - chouquette, canelé, and cream puff with whipped cream and pineapple

** All photography taken by Joey Salmingo ** 

Address: 100 King St W, Toronto, ON M5X 2A2 (First Canadian Place)

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mamantoronto/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_mamantoronto_/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mamantoronto
Website: http://mamantoronto.com/

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Maman Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Maman Toronto

by on Tuesday, February 09, 2016
  Maman Toronto is a lovely bakery/cafe located on the mezzanine of First Canadian Place offering a taste of Southern France. It was a lit...
Located on Avenue Road between Lawrence and Wilson is a relatively new restaurant, Francobollo Posto Italiano. It is one of the many restaurants from the Substance Food Group; the team behind Terra, Rusty's At Blue, and Sarpa restaurants. I had the pleasure of attending a menu tasting at Francobollo Posto Italiano about two weeks ago, and had a delightful dinner. Francobollo offers classic Italian fare, and its menu consists of several selections of insalate (salad), antipaste (first course), paste (pasta), secondi (second course), and rotational desserts. This North York restaurant distinguishes itself from others by presenting a very warm atmosphere with no hint of pretentiousness from the start to the end of our dining experience. 

The overall space was brightly-lit, and has a very modern yet romantic ambiance. Francobollo Posto Italiano is split into two levels. The first floor is for casual diners while the second floor has the capacity to cater to large parties. 

We couldn't make up our minds on what dishes to get, so we left it in the hands of our capable server to recommend some.

For a starter, we got the Barbabietola ($14)heirloom beets, goat cheese, green pistachio, baby arugula, wildflower honey & balsamic vinaigretteThe heirloom beets are cooked sous vide involving placing them into a plastic bag, and soaking them in water or a temperature-controlled environment. This method helps to retain the natural flavors, and coloring that would otherwise be diluted. I love how the balsamic vinaigrette added a very citrus flavor to the overall dish.

Another starter that we got was the Polipo Sottovuotto ($18) - 75° octopus, quinoa, butter lettuce, orange-red onion-caper-mint salsa. The dish consists of thinly cut octopus on top of a bed of quinoa, and butter lettuce. It was layered properly to give you a palette of various flavors, and it was a beautiful presentation for an appetizer. The octopus was fine on its own, but you do have the option to add more lemon to it.

Francobollo Posto Italiano has a great selection of house-made pasta, which all sounded amazing. However, J ended up opting for the Gamberi E Capesante Alla Brace ($37) - grilled jumbo black tiger prawns & day boat scallops, lemon & sea salt, as his main course. I would love to come back on another occasion to try one of their pasta dishes.

I can't stress enough how well-presented the plates are at Francobollo Posto Italiano. The main course, Filetto Di Manzo Alla Griglia (8oz) ($38) - grilled certified Angus beef tenderloin, wild mushrooms, bone marrow & fresh thyme jus, arrived beautifully plated. The beef tenderloin itself was well-seasoned, and had a good sear to it. Beneath the steak laid a handful of perfectly cooked vegetables. The wild mushrooms and carrots really added a nice taste to the beef without overpowering the dish. I was told that each component of the dish was pan-fried, and cooked separately to give it a district layer of taste.

I had the enjoyment of cutting each tender piece, as it was cooked exactly to my liking (medium rare). I was rather impressed with the quality considering Francobollo is an Italian restaurant and not a steakhouse. Lastly, the bone marrow was prepared in a way that it was first scooped out then put back onto a crispy bone. The bone marrow got a little dry towards the end, but was not an issue when paired with a glass of red wine.

The Risotto Mantecato is composed daily (MP). Risotto is a very versatile dish, so there are several ways to prepare it. The one that we ordered had a nice creamy texture, and pieces of the duck was cooked well. 

The selection of desserts change daily, and during our visit this delectable Nutella Cheesecake was featured on the menu. As mentioned plenty of times throughout my blog, I have a major sweet tooth, so I always anticipate dessert. The Nutella cheesecake came at the right temperature, as it was nice and cold without any freezer burn. What I would like to heavily emphasize is the generous portion of the cheesecake that was topped off with a glaze of cherry sauce. The dessert was a nice finish as it was perfectly rich and creamy, combined with a nice crust, and full of Nutella flavor.

J opted for the Double Chocolate Tartufo, which is a classic Italian ice-cream dessert. I have had tartufo before, and normally it would be a large ball resembling a truffle. However, the one at Francobollo is sliced into four pieces, and covered in a wonderful blend of double chocolate.

We both left the restaurant with a truly fantastic fine dining experience, and full. Although touted as an upscale restaurant, I enjoyed the warm ambiance that the staff from Francobollo provided. I found the service to be rather top-notch, as our server was incredibly attentive, and provided much professionalism. Lastly, its menu of classic Italian fare is crafted using fresh and locally sourced ingredients, and is something that I appreciate from a local restaurant.

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Francobollo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Francobollo Posto Italiano

by on Friday, February 05, 2016
Located on Avenue Road between Lawrence and Wilson is a relatively new restaurant, Francobollo Posto Italiano . It is one of the many res...
Located on King and Portland; Portland Variety is brought to you by Milton Nunes of bakery-cafe, Le Gourmand on Spadina. The 2,400-square-foot space features a standing-room cafe at the front which serves pastries, and coffee drinks during the day, and at night, it transforms to a cocktail bar. Portland Variety recently added brunch to their menu, and released their winter menu back in December. I have stopped by Portland Variety on a few occasions for their coffee and pastries in the early mornings. However, I was not aware that they expanded their café where it currently has the capacity to seat 82 guests in the back until I attended the winter menu launch. It was there where I got a taste of new head chef Matt Cowan's Euro-inspired bistro dishes with a mix of Canadian cuisine. All of the dishes served the night of the media menu launch were shareable, and there was plenty of food.

The menu at Portland Variety features a fusion of Canadian, French, and Spanish cuisine offering shareable plates for both lunch and dinner.  I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the food, and there were a few highlights that I would recommend trying. One of the main highlights was the grilled octopus, which was juicy, and well-flavored. The octopus was charred, so there was a nice smokey taste to it. Normally, I find that the flavor of octopus tends to be rather mild, but the addition of the chorizo jam definitely added extra flavor to it. Another dish that I enjoyed was the Piri Piri fried hen flavored with hot honey glaze, which had a nice balance of sweet and spicy. 

Ceviche is a popular seafood dish in South America, and is available on the menu at Portland Variety. It's typically made from fresh raw fish, and marinated in citrus juices, which helps to cure the fish. Chef Matt Cowan's rendition is a beautifully presented and colorful dish. The Nikkei ceviche is filled with chunks of striped bass with a layer of aji de maracuya sauce making it a very refreshing and light main course. Additionally, Portland Variety also offers several small bites on the menu, and I enjoyed them all. However, if I had to choose, I would say that the cassava fries were the tastiest. It is definitely a healthier alternative as it was baked yet it still remains crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. The cauliflower "popcorn" was a crowd favorite, and is such a creative way to prepare cauliflower.

Lastly, the bite sized beignets was the perfect end to a great dinner. The deep-fried choux pastry is lightly powdered with sugar, and filled with sweet vanilla custard. As for drinks - Portland Variety serves up plenty of classic and in-house cocktails. If you're not a cocktail drinker, then there are draught beers, bottled beers, and sangria on the drinks menu. Dinner at Portland Variety was a very nice surprise, and I really enjoyed it as I left satisfied and full. The cafe/restaurant is open 7 days a week, and they have upped their game by offering brunch as well.

Iberico Chorizo Croquettas ($11)


Salted Caramel Old Fashioned ($14) - bulleit bourbon, salted caramel liquor, orange essence,
angostura & a&p bitters

Cassava Fries ($8)

Cauliflower "Popcorn" ($8)

Champagne a la Fouqette ($27) - piper heidsieck champagne, st. remy vsop, eau de tea syrup, yellow chartuese, mint, blackberries

Black Kale ($11) - chevre noir, pickled grapes, hazelnuts, burnt honey dressing

Roasted Heirloom Roots ($15) - burrata, tarragon, walnut pesto, herbs

Whipped House-Made Ricotta ($14) - spice roasted plums, pistachios, grilled sourdough

Nikkei Ceviche ($21) - striped bass, aji de maracuya, persimmons, taro chips

Grilled Octopus ($21) - chorizo jam

Piri Piri Fried Hen ($18) - hot honey glaze

Sticky Lamb Ribs ($23) - harissa & maple glaze, spicy peanut brittle

Braised Shortribs ($32) - truffled semolina polenta, glazed roots

Gnocchi alla Romana ($18) - kabocha & burnt butter puree, pinenuts, sage

Beignets ($7) - bite sized vanilla custard doughnuts

Address: 587 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M5

Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PortlandVariety/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/PortlandVariety/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/portlandvariety
Website: http://www.portlandvariety.com/

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Portland Variety Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Portland Variety

by on Monday, February 01, 2016
Located on King and Portland; Portland Variety is brought to you by Milton Nunes of bakery-cafe, Le Gourmand on Spadina. The 2,400-square...