Little Italy was established in the early 1900s, when Toronto saw an influx of Italian immigrants, many of whom opened mom-and-pop shops on College Street West. Though some Italian-Canadian-owned businesses remain, the neighborhood has grown to include a wider range of establishments loved by locals, including bars, boutiques, and restaurants.
Little Italy is broadly defined as the area on College Street between Ossington and Dufferin streets, and a few blocks north and south. Like many Toronto neighborhoods, Little Italy is best explored at a leisurely pace. A stroll down College Street offers window shopping, people watching, and a wide selection of trendy restaurants—food tours are especially popular in this neighborhood.
Things To Know Before You Go
- Little Italy is a must-do for foodies.
- Wear comfortable shoes and prepare for lots of walking.
- Make restaurant reservations in advance to skip the area’s notoriously long lines.
How to Get There
Little Italy is situated just west of Kensington Market on College Street and is easily accessible using Toronto’s comprehensive public transit system. To reach Little Italy, take bus 506 to College and Grace streets or bus 505 to Dundas and Grace streets and walk north to College. Alternatively, use Toronto’s bike-share program to enjoy a scenic 15-minute ride from downtown.
When to Get There
Many visitors opt to explore during the hustle and bustle of weekends and evenings to get a sense of the neighborhood at its liveliest. To avoid the crowds, go at 9am or 10am for a cup of coffee and sweet treat just as the shops are opening. An annual highlight is the Taste of Little Italy street festival, which takes place in June and features vendors, music, and carnival rides.
The Royal Cinema
While walking through Little Italy, it’s hard to miss the art deco–style movie theater sandwiched between shops along College Street. The Royal Cinema was built in 1939 by Ray Lewis, an influential woman in Toronto’s theater scene. In its glory days as a movie theater, roller rink, and dance hall, the Royal was a hub for the Little Italy community. The theater, which still screens independent films, is a popular attraction for visitors and locals alike.