Mon. Nov 29th, 2021

The deli means different things to different people. For some, it’s a place to fill up with sliced ​​salumi and charcuterie; for others, it is a place to catch up on a mile-high plate of pastrami and sour pickles. What unites the two visions is a commitment to thinly sliced ​​cold cuts and quality sandwiches, which is something we can all stand behind. Here is our favorite delicacy for everything from antipasti to pastrami.

1. Salumeriaen

For almost 40 years now, this Davisville gem has been home to – among countless other delicious things – Italian cold cuts.
The display cabinet in the tightly packed compartment is crammed with all kinds of imported meat, each with an old-fashioned red-and-white price tag: guanciale, capicollo, mortadella, prosciutto, salami you did not know existed (the oh-so lightly spiced casalingo, one with fennel, one other with truffle).

But the best and secret part of this place? Owner Carlo Celebre (who took over the business in 2006) or one of his friendly staff will take any of the aforementioned delicacies and make them into a sandwich for you. All you have to do is pick a bun and bring it to the counter – and then rely on the hands of their talented sandwich artist. They recommend that beginners get the house special, and for good reason: a ciabatta bun with thinly shaved prosciutto, spicy salami, fat slices of creamy buffalo mozzarella, spicy peppers, balsamic vinegar and fig jam – the secret weapon – are sweet and salty things -dream. 2021 Yonge St., 416-486-8327

2. Scheffler’s delicacy and cheese

Every inch of this stamp from St. Lawrence Market – open since 1955 – is being used to its full potential, packing a surprising amount of handicrafts into its 800 square feet. The current owner, Odysseas Gounalakis, worked in the market in the early ’80s, then bought Scheffler’s a decade later and turned it into a family affair. He added specialty antipasti to the range in the 90s and you can still find all kinds of olives, pickles, marinated artichokes and various stuffed things (cherry bombs, grape leaves), although it may take a while before you can serve yourself, salad -bar style, again. Over the years, the shelves and refrigerators were filled with olive oils, vinegars and spices from around the world, some of the best butter you can buy for money, hard to find gemstones like Peruvian sweet drops and – the reason we are here – delicacies. They offer the largest selection of prosciutto in town, cigarillo-sized saucisson sec (some flavored with truffle, others with espelette pepper) and not-your-average cold cuts like sliced ​​goose. 93 Front St. E., 416-364-2806

Photo by Caroline Aksich

3. Chantecler Boucherie

It was meant to be the dream team: a sister butcher shop to supply the kitchen of the French bistro next door, Chantecler, with only the best dry-aged meat, sourced from small Ontario farms. So in 2019, Chantecler caught fire and the landlord eventually sold the building before the restaurant could reopen. Despite it all, Daniel McMahon slaughters soldiers at the thriving boucherie slash deli. The former Black Hoof chef has created a one-stop-shop for the perfect preparation-free evening in. Grab a bottle of Italian natural wine, everything you need for a beauty of a charcuterie board – coppa, lonza, sopressata, pepperettes, a pig – and country-style liver terrine – so buy items like fresh heirloom eggs and Subtext coffee beans for the morning after. Oh, and that order? They turn them into some of the best sandwiches in town: roast beef, turkey club and – our favorite – the Italian hoagie, a sesame seed bun filled with Genuasalami, hot sopressata, Black Forest ham, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion and giardiniera. 1318 Queen St W., 416-628-3586,

4. Kingsway Meat and Deli

Run by siblings Adam, Greg and Ewa Wesierski, whose father, Hubert, started the industry, Kingsway Meat and Deli has been supplying Bloor West Village with Polish and Ukrainian staples for over 30 years. The European-style shop is your typical deli: a window clad with a cloak of sausage links, various other smoked meats wrapped like party streamers behind the counter and large plastic buckets filled to the brim with serve-yourself (at least in earlier times)) dill pickles, sauerkraut and herring . Most of the shop – including the kolbasa (both ham and turkey varieties) and the Oktoberfest and village sausages – are prepared at their factory outlet and smokehouse in Mississauga. Grab something kabanosy for snacks: thin, foot-long meat sticks laughing in the face of other peppers. Bags of frozen pierogies and plum-filled paczki are quite obviously not meat products, but provide excellent impulse purchases. 2342 Bloor St. W., 416-762-5365,

Photo by Daniel Neuhaus

5. When the Pig came home

A self-proclaimed “Toronto-style delicatessen”, this Junction store – beautifully made with subway tiles and a painted tin ceiling – draws a number of devotees, all to co-owner Ryan Gatner’s Montreal smoked meats, 13-hour fried porchetta or his kicky jerk chicken. Almost everything on the menu is made using grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free meat from local farmers, then salted, seasoned or smoked internally. It’s all available by weight or – it’s a delicacy and it’s all – turned into a sandwich. Their luxurious breakfast sami fills a soft milk bun with thick cuts of nitrate-free pea flour, an overly light egg, cheddar, kale and tomato (because vegetables), all finished with a splash of maple aioli – it’s Canadian bacon made better. 3035 Dundas St. W., 647-345-9001, when the pig came

Photo courtesy of Speducci Mercatto

6. Speducci Mercatto

Tucked away in an industrial part of the city, the Speducci Mercatto is one of the city’s best kept secrets. It wears a lot of delicious hats – it’s a café, a butcher shop, a grocery store for imported Italian goods and a full service restaurant serving homemade pizza and pasta along with glasses of wine and beer. But it’s the space in the back corner, the size of a walk-in closet, that houses Speducci’s pride and joy: chef Gabriele Paganelli’s line of award-winning spiced meat. There are sweet or hot cacciatore, three-bite stecchini and Paganelli’s famous non-Jewish salami – we are big fans of the spicy kind, made with Mennonite-raised pork and added hot pepper paste. They’re all stacked in front of a backdrop made up of various dried-up ham gams (and some wild boar) that age for prosciutto, and all come soon to a charcuterie board near you. 46 Milford Ave., 416-242-2777,

Photo courtesy of Sumilicious

7. Sumilicious

It’s hard, if not impossible, to find a better rendition of smoked meats from Montreal than the one from this Scarborough store, which has become a true destination for delicacy lovers. Bona fides are untraditional but unmistakable: Owner Sumith Fernando came to Toronto via Sri Lanka – with a 16-year pit stop working at Montreal’s famous Schwartz’s, where he absorbed every pepper-and-spice-rubbed secret (and added a few pieces) of its own) to salt and smoke a breast and cut it to thickly sliced, mustard-cut perfection. He also trades in turkey, chicken, salami and steak, but the signature smoked meat (it’s halal by the way) is his true business card. 5631 Steeles Ave. E., 647-347-8899,

8. Schmaltz Appetizing

Anthony Rose’s appetizing shop has all the standard fish-like toppings – smoked salmon, grav salmon, smoked sturgeon and, for the holidays, felted fish. It’s all available in vacuum or as part of a dish, and most can be ordered at a Bagel World bagel. All the classic side dishes (cream cheese, chopped eggs, tuna salad, rich sour pickles) are on the shelves. The place earns nostalgia points for carrying chubby New York Seltzer bottles. 414 Dupont St., 647-350-4261,

Photo by Daniel Neuhaus

9. Center Street Deli

Toronto’s herd of Jewish-style delicacies has been significantly diluted in recent years – zei gezunt to Katz’s and Yitz’s. But the best of the rest of the bunch – for both quality and ambiance – is this Thornhill classic, which trades on classic delicacies: smoked meats (ask for the old-fashioned if you like your peppery), corned beef, tongue, minced liver, smoked whitefish, knishes, matzoh balls and a whole slap of pickled goods. Expect a healthy amount of kibitzing from both staff and regular customers when you place your order. And yes, you would like some karnatzel and a rye bread to take home, that’s a given. 1136 Center St., Thornhill,

10. StariGrad

For almost two decades, Stari Grad has been the go-to deli for the people of Junction. The friendly staff cuts all the standard meat of the lunch and the salt into slices, but the shop also has cevapi: springy, shelled sausages. The shelves are lined with imported European and Mediterranean products like ajvar, a sour roasted red pepper spread perfect for sandwiches; kaymak, a clotted cream that is delicious on fresh bread or as a burger topping; and sweets, including boxes of Turkish Delight (and some bags of Turkish coffee there). Look into Solero, their newly renovated sister bakery in the same building, for freshly baked lepinja (a pita-like flatbread) and homemade burek, a pastry filled with things like minced meat and cheese – or grab a few from the delicatessen’s freezer case, when future cravings hit. 3029 Dundas St. W. and two other locations, 416-763-2562,

These lists (and many more) appear in Toronto Life’s 100 Best Food Shops special edition, which is available at newsstands now. To buy your own copy, Click here.

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