This project considers the place of food production and consumption in Italian-Canadian culture, examining cuisine as one of the defining traits of cultural identity for Italian immigrants that settled within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) over the past one hundred years. It begins with an overview of the history of Italian immigration to Toronto and key neighbourhoods built and transformed by this diaspora, including the establishment of landmark food businesses that persist to this day. Using a sociocultural, historical lens, the project further highlights the impact and contributions of the Italian community on Toronto’s food industry, tracing the growth and enduring legacies of restaurants in the face of cultural demographic shifts towards the turn of the century. This project further outlines the importance of recognizing and preserving the culinary traditions of diasporas, particularly in times of crises that impact local businesses and threaten to erase the cultural footprint of immigrant communities. 

Throughout our research, we have been able to collect a variety of different images, advertisements, menus, and more from 1900 onwards. The exhibits, as can be found in the headers, highlight foundational businesses of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area that helped to create the Italian experience, life and culture in Canada, a country thousands of kilometres away from the source. 

Archival Photos

Archival images of Vesuvio's Pizzeria and Spaghetti House (now closed). 

Vintage Advertisements

Image of The Old Spaghetti Factory advertisement, c. 1970s. 

1983 Storefront

Image of the market's 1983 storefront, before the name was updated to a more accurate translation, "Colangelo Brothers Supermarket."

Historical Image Collage

Images of Il Gatto Nero, when it was still referred to as a "bar," a term in Italian referncing that of a café. 

Recognition of the Academia della Cucina Delegation

Image of owner of Mastro’s Ristorante Italiano receving Recognition of the Academia della cucina Delegation award, c. 1985. 

Historical Advertisement

Image of advertisement for La Luce Ristorante. 

Stained Glass Sign

Image of iconic stained glass sign outside of Frank Vetere’s Pizzeria & Tavern (now closed) locations. 

Historical Exterior

Image of exterior of Biagio Risotrnte, made available in 2007.