Turning half of a beer store into a tasty pizza place

Kathleen Murphy, Greg Morton and son Raif.
Pictured: Kathleen Murphy, Greg Morton and son Raif. Not pictured: Sarah and Ross Wave and son Davis. We give $100 to help pay for a meal for three Leasiders at any restaurant in our area, the M4G postal code, which includes Leaside, Bennington Heights and the Leaside Business Park.

When the Beer Store at Bayview and Eglinton closed in August 2014, many Leasiders probably took their empties to the LCBO on Laird and never came back.

But as our latest group of dining critics found out, if you were one of those, you’d be missing out on some pretty good food in an interesting place.

The Beer Store beside the Metro supermarket is back, in smaller quarters, but with some of the old space now home to Tosto Quickfire Pizza Pasta, open since last November.

It is clean, bright and airy, decorated in an industrial cantina style where everything is self-serve. You order at the front, receive a buzzer and pick up your food when the order is ready.

Tosto is a collaboration between chef Nicolas Wong and MTY Food Group, a Montreal-based restaurant conglomerate.

Our critics, two families, each brought a young son and made up a group of six: Kathleen Murphy and Greg Morton, son Raif, 9, of Rumsey Rd., and Sarah and Ross Wace and son Davis, 10, of Hillsdale Ave.

Here’s what Kathleen Murphy had to say:

I arrived a few minutes before our friends so I was able to set the table with cutlery, napkins, and water. We ordered the Caesar salad for everyone to share. Thumbs up! Their version includes arugula, which is a great addition. The kids loved it as well.

The charcuterie plate was fresh, tasty and presented nicely on a wood cutting board for us to nibble on. We love that the pizza and pasta are all made from scratch on premise in their open kitchen. You don’t find that in many pricier restaurants, and the quality of the fresh food is reflected in all the dishes we tried.

I ordered the carbonara, which I usually don’t because of the high calories, but I have to say it was definitely worth every bite and I will absolutely be going back for it again!

My husband, Greg, and Sarah ordered the brasato pasta. It’s a rigatoni, with braised beef, green pea, pecorino, ragu sauce. They both loved it and were very happy with their choice even though they found it hard to choose from a selection of 10 different pastas.

Ross ordered the affumicata (smoked) pizza, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, bacon, wild mushroom and green onion. When it arrived on its wood board it looked like a piece of art. Beautiful. (There was definitely a bit of pizza envy going on.)

The affumicata did not disappoint. Ross had ordered the share size, which is a very generous portion, and was impressed with it all around.

The kids ordered a single size pizza each. Raif had the affumicata pizza and thought it was awesome. He especially liked the big pieces of bacon and ate the whole thing. Davis ordered the margherita pizza and gave it a 10 out of 10 after eating his whole portion.

We (the ladies) had a nice bottle of white wine, reasonably priced at $24, and the guys enjoyed their $5 Peroni beer.

Our only complaint is that although the food was all ordered at the same time, Ross’s pizza arrived first, followed by the kids’ food, and by the time we got our pastas they had all finished their meal.

That lack of timing made the dinner feel a bit disjointed and made it harder for us just to relax and enjoy it.

We all agreed that overall the food is great, we appreciated the quality and enjoyed the atmosphere, and would be happy to go back again…although maybe in a smaller group.

Tosto Quickfire Pizza Pasta is definitely worth putting on your neighbourhood list of places to try.