Top New Openings of 2018 in Oakville, Burlington, and Milton

This year has been a great one in terms of new restaurant openings across Oakville, Burlington, and Milton — and we’re just getting into summer 2018.

While Halton isn't necessarily the first area to come to mind when someone hears the term "food scene," anyone who overlooks these not-so-sleepy suburbs is missing out on a truly unique, diverse and eclectic mix of food options.
There truly is something for everyone.
Here's a look at some of the hottest new openings of 2018 so far, in no particular order.

Burlington
Downtown Burlington’s food scene just got a boost, Italian-style. It's welcoming another Italian restaurant and you may recognize the name. The Express Italian Eatery has opened along Lakeshore Rd. at Brant St. and it’s serving up pizza, pasta, steak and seafood. The new restaurant opened last month in the former Salvatore’s spot. It's from Hamilton -- there's a location by McMaster University and another on Grays Rd. closer to Stoney Creek. Burlington is the third location. The Express is named after the train in Italy which weaved through Bolzano, Milano, Florence, Bologna, Rome, Calabria and Sicily. The menu represents a fusion of northern, central and southern Italian cuisine. What's in store? Made to order wood fire pizzas, fresh in- house pasta and hand tossed gourmet salads. Popular dishes include the Mare Monte ($14). It comes with sauteed shrimp with mushrooms and spinach in white wine plus goat cheese lemon sauce. The Caprese Plate ($14) features freshly sliced tomatoes and bocconcini topped with olive oil, basil and balsamic glaze.
Then there's the Grilled Vegetable Salad ($14) which pairs zucchini, peppers and eggplant with seasoned tossed greens, balsamic vinaigrette, goat cheese and sun-dried tomato drizzle. But you'll really want to get the Ravioli al Brasato di Manzo. Why? Pillows are stuffed with braised beef then topped with sauteed red onions and mushrooms. It's comfort food that's flavoured impeccably (and reminds me of my university roommate Tania’s pot roast ... gone Italian). The Gnocchi, made in-house, arrives in a dreamy, creamy Rose sauce. It's topped with fried sweet potato chips for a layer of texture. If you're into sharing, you'll want to order the Venetian pizza ($16). It's got a thin crust plus asiago, soppressata, fresh rapini and pepperoncino, made in-house. It's fantastic and perfectly crispy. Service is great, and here's something special for the ladies: They give out blankets on the patio if you’re cold (or inside when the A/C is blasting.


El Inka

Burlington

Watching the local culinary landscape evolve is fascinating, as cuisine—much like clothing and decor—can seemingly come in and out of fashion. The North American palate, once typically associated with burgers and fries, has come to favour formerly exotic dishes such as sushi, shawarma, dim sum and, now, ceviche. And now, a restaurant that celebrates Peruvian food is in Burlington. El Inka opened in March 2018 and bills itself as offering a modern Peruvian dining experience. Its arrival in the city's north end couldn't come at a better time. Suburbia is winning, with Appleby Line and Upper Middle gaining cred as a legit destination -- weekend lineups are out the door at Industria and Beertown. For years, Peruvian restaurants were difficult to find—even in the culturally diverse and restaurant-heavy GTA. Traditional Peruvian foods differ from their once better known Spanish and South American counterparts, but they're just as rich and memorable. On the menu you'll find Seco de Cordero (lamb shank), Jalea (a crispy seafood platter), Escabeche de Pescado (breaded fresh fish fillet with onions, red peppers, aji panca sauce). You won't find empanadas on the menu, but rather Papa a la Huancaina (potato slices smothered in a spicy, bright yellow cream sauce), yuca frita (fried cassava) and anticuchos (marinated veal hearts). What about libations? To wash it all down, the list incorporates Peruvian pisco (it's fermented) in cocktails such as El Capitan (with sweet vermouth and bitters), Maracuya Sour (it has passion fruit juice, egg whites, lime juice, and white cinnamon), and a Detox Fresco with St. Germain, mint leaves, lime juice, and soda). We can't wait to devour their ceviche!

Photo courtesy of El Inka


Beldeni's Italian Kitchen

Burlington

Because you can never have too much burrata. Fine dining just got a boost in Burlington. This new Italian place along Harvester Rd. is something special: the food is fabulous, service is great, and the atmosphere is downright summery. They're serving up sizzlin' steak, seafood, pizza and pasta (which isn't made in-house). The restaurant features fresh ingredients and traditions. Among the appetizers you’ll find Imported Burrata di Puglia, with basil and arugula pesto, blistered cherry tomatoes, and crumbled prosciutto. The beet salad and salmon are also worth ordering. The location will ring a bell -- it's the former Walkers Fish Market (with the same herringbone flooring). Popular dishes include mussels pomodoro, porchetta panino, and linguini carbonara. The Nantucket-style decor is the perfect place for a mini-escape while remaining in the city.


Dar Nabati

Oakville

Come for the Eggless Egg Sandwich and leave with dessert -- a plant-based resto has opened along Lakeshore Rd. E. — so tell all the vegans, raw food enthusiasts, and Paleo/Crossfitters in your life. If you’re looking for a place to grab cheap eats in downtown Oakville, this is your next stop. Dar Nabati opened April 27 and is offering up a variety of light options. One of the very best items on the menu: Baked Egyptian Falafel ($5.95). They're made with fava beans and served hot, without a hint of dryness, and drizzled with tahini. (And I certainly don't miss the upset stomach which accompanies traditionally fried falafel). The Eggless Egg Sandwich ($8.25) is delicious, garnished with scallions and dill. You should try it.


La Creme de la Creme Creamery

Burlington

If you love dairy -and lots of it- you'd better keep reading ... there's a new dessert option in Burlington. And it's just in time for summer. It's the kind of place that boasts around-the-block lineups and endless photos/stories for the 'Gram. La Creme de la Creme Creamery opened on June 7 and it's already looking like a downtown favourite. What's the deal? It's 100 per cent real soft ice cream, dipped in Belgian chocolate. You can pick from 17 flavours, including white, milk and dark chocolate. Then there are 10 choices for toppings, including pretzels, toasted coconut and star sprinkles. Dulche de leche and raspberry are proving to be quite popular. Vegans, don't fret. There's a fresh option called the Fruity French Fondue. It includes fruit topped with dark chocolate (there's no ice cream involved). The family-run shop will be selecting a special cone each month known as Emma's Pick (she's the youngest daughter). June's selection is the Pride Cone (it's turquoise and all the cool kids are ordering it). The shop will be donating $1 from each small, medium and large Pride cone or cup sold to a local LGBTQ support group. If you'd rather sip your dessert, La Creme de la Creme also offers milkshakes (we got chocolate with real strawberries -- it hit the spot!). As for prices, the bill for a small cone and shake was just under $11. Service is absolutely wonderful, complete with an adorable young lady providing outstanding customer service at the cash register. Do yourself a favour and treat yo'self to the raspberry dip!


Industria Pizzeria & Bar

Burlington

Three words, Burlington peeps: all-dressed pizza. The city now has a slice of la belle province with a chic new restaurant and bar that's large, airy and fun. Ottawa already has one at Lansdowne Park. But this is the first location outside of the Hwy. 417 corridor - formidably penetrating the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) market - and that's something worth bragging about, no? Industria Pizzeria & Bar, also known as Industria Brasserie Italienne, is in the former Fraticelli's location. The menu starts with small bites, or sfizi, such as the Salmon Tartare Bomb and Grilled Lamb Chops. Salmon arrives with green onion, rice krispies, sesame seeds, and coriander aioli. Then there's the most popular dish: Gnocchi Poutine, which arrives with a sweet demi-glace. Pizza, naturally, is served up with a pair of scissors, just like Nonna would've wanted. There's a separate section on the menu with white pizza (minus the tomato sauce) -- the Industria Pizza comes with beef, yellow cheddar, iceberg lettuce, onions, pickles, Industria sauce, and sesame seeds. We went with All-Dressed because, MONTREAL (if you're unfamiliar, it's typically got pepperoni, mushrooms and green peppers ... Industria's comes with red peppers, though). For carnvivores, there's a 100 per cent Beef & Capicollo burger, ribs, and steak. Those in search of libations can find themselves at the bottom of a vino list offering up everything from chianti to an Australian shiraz. The interior is what you'd expect from Montreal: super-stylish and, well, industrial. Overall, the atmosphere is casual, with chic lighting fixtures and friendly service. There's also a gelato bar with flavours you're accustomed to (chocolate, lemon, pistachio). We even spotted a vegan option! Desserts are made in-house and gelato flavours change daily. We can't wait to return for a drink on the patio -- keep in mind, they don't take reservations so expect a lineup on weekends.


Ricarda's

Oakville

There's a bicycle by the entrance in downtown Oakville and an interior you'll love. Plus, there's jazz with Sunday brunch. A popular Toronto-based Mediterranean bakery, cafe, and restaurant is now open at 219 Lakeshore Rd. E. Ricarda's offers up everything from flatbreads to the aforementioned weekend feast, plus dinner and cocktails. There are plenty of vegetarian options, including custom salads. The Quinoa and Spinach burger is a hit, featuring balsamic-glazed portobello mushrooms, pepper jam, and smoked cheese (there's also feta in the burger). It's served with a green field tabbouleh salad or shoestring fries.

The restaurant's Toronto location is on Peter St., right in the entertainment district and boasts a substantial food menu. It's best known for its upscale-yet-unpretentious vibe and vast array of eats such as quiche, flatbread, pizza, and wine. The new Oakville menu is curated and early best-sellers include the Carnaroli Risotto with black truffle oil, wild mushrooms, aged balsamic glaze, and hibiscus sea salt flakes (I will legit try just about anything with hibiscus). Appetizers include Coriander & Cumin Crusted Yellow Fin Tuna (with quail eggs, green beans, nicoise olives); Provimi Veal Carpaccio (arugula, truffle honey, feta, green apple); and a Candied Walnut Salad (which includes my favourite: figs!).

Healthy bowls are offered for the gym rats in your life: Israeli Couscous Mix; Grain Spelt; and Yellow Lentil & Chickpea Salad are among the choices. For the carnivores, the Canadian Five Spice Lamb Shank features garlic mashed potatoes, heirloom carrots and cipollini onions. Then there's a seven-ounce Grilled Flat Iron Beef with leek confit, nicoise olives, piquillo pine nuts salsa, and butternut milk whipped parnship. Ricarda's replaces Ristorante Julia, which closed earlier this year. With its airy, brass-heavy interior and great service, it will no doubt satisfy locals who can never have enough fantastic Mediterranean eats.


West End Social

Oakville

This downtown Bronte spot means Oakville's nightlife is about to get lit. Or at least slightly more legit. A new bar/restaurant has made its debut. West End Social is in the former Coach & Four location near the corner of Bronte Rd. and Lakeshore Rd. W. The legendary pub closed last October. Catch Hospitality Group - which owns many of Oakville's top restos, including Cucci, Plank, Tavolo, and the Firehall - has taken over the location at 2432 Lakeshore Rd. W. The space was completely gutted. West End Social is currently taking shape and it's being billed as a piano bar -- this means there's live music plus bites and cocktails. Aesthetics are important, so let's talk looks: the lounge features a 25-foot bar, custom banquette seating, and gorgeous lighting. It'll be open until 2 a.m., unlike most Oakville spots. In terms of tunes, live piano will be featured Thursday through Saturday with DJ's spinning late into the night. As for bites, small, shareable plates are being served up. And while the resto has been undergoing its makeover, it's been getting a lot of buzz locally. A visit here is a perfect way to simultaneously get your vitamin C-infused bevvies and shorten your Uber ride home.

Photos courtesy of West End Social


Boon Burger

Oakville
An Oakville burger war is about to go down. A hot-yet-casual dining experience just opened on March 9 ... it's creative and fun, much like a very nearby competitor. It started in Winnipeg, made its way to the west Greater Toronto Area (first in Burlington -- Hamilton's Ottawa St. location opened last month). Boon Burger Cafe - which proves you don't necessarily need meat to create a phenomenally satisfying meal - is now in the Fortino's plaza at Dundas St. and Neyagawa Blvd. That's in Vegebitez territory -- this means the ever-popular vegan movement is only going to gain traction in town. Boon Burger currently has a downtown Burlington location, where their Cowboy burger is the top seller. Dude, it's beyond delicious. Made from scratch, burgers are handmade, grilled, baked, and served on a whole wheat bun. New items have recently been introduced to the menu, including a round - not square - bun, poutine, and pizza. This Canadian chain, or "world's first vegan burger cafe," has mastered selling plant-based junk food for the masses. Hot sauce and other (less important) condiments are already on the table, surrounded by a massive roll of brown paper towels. Full of farm animals, the environment is quirky; friendly staff wear black T-shirts reading 'boonivore' on the back. Boon Burger has also scored bragging rights for Novemburger -- that's an annual burger festival which raises money for the United Way of Halton & Hamilton. It's time to get your eat on, Oakville.

Milton

The popular Streetsville Neapolitan wood oven pizza restaurant that's known for its rustic-chic interior, homemade southern Italian dishes and exclusive Italian wine selection, officially opened its doors in Halton at 22 Ontario St. S., across from the Milton Mall, in a former Re/Max realty office. Finally. It's an ideal place to break all of your new year's resolutions. With authentic Neapolitan wood oven pizza, the menu focuses on authentic Southern Italian cuisine. A variety of legit Napoletana pizzas include the Margherita Pizza, topped with San Marzano sauce, mozzarella fiore di latte, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil. You'll also find Romano pizza and homemade pastas, all made in-house. The Maccheroni alla Carbonara pasta dish includes pancetta, egg yolks, pecorino romano, and black pepper.

The menu also includes appetizers, fish and meat entrees, and desserts. The mozzarealla di bufala, and parmigiano-reggiano cheeses are some of the ingredients they use imported directly from Italy. Goodfellas boasts an extensive Italian wine selection which pairs beautifully with great eats. Meanwhile, the Georgetown location is now slated to open in summer 2018. It'll be at 29 Main St. S. in the former TDCanada Trust branch. And you'll definitely notice the financial influence in the design scheme. "We're going to keep the safes there," Rick Taddeo from Goodfellas' head office operations previously told inhalton.com, adding "the vault will be a dining room, you know, six to eight people. It'll be nice -- nice decor." The Georgetown resto will also see a rooftop patio "along with a convenient elevator" in addition to the main floor and basement dining areas. Goodfellas' current locations are in Mississauga's Streetsville and City Centre neighbourhoods, plus Toronto's Old Mill. "We're very familiar with the west end" of the Greater Toronto Area, said Taddeo. All menus - and price points - will be identical, said Taddeo.


Trish Juice

Oakville

There's beets, spinach, kale, and spectacular customer service in south Oakville. And it's not pretentious or overpriced. A brand new juice bar, Trish Juice, is now open along Lakeshore Rd. W. (meaning there's a good chance this cute resto might be near your home or work). It's a great breakfast, lunch, or light dinner option, especially after a particularly punishing training session in the weight room. Or if your hands are full with a baby -- the owner will stop what she's doing to help a mom with a stroller get in and out the door.

But back to the bevvies. I love me some fresh juice, and the beet juice, with carrot and lemon, didn't disappoint. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather eat my calories than drink them but there's one exception and it's a real juice made right before my eyes, full of brightly hued fruit and vegetables, poured into a tall glass. If you appreciate such healthy but tasty concoctions (the cranky old guy who runs my gym most certainly will!), you will want to check it out. Trish Juice is in the former K.B. Rugs spot. You'll find hip, trendy items such as Avocado Toast, (we tried the Hummus Toast, topped with alfalfa sprouts -- yum). The name may sound familiar -- if so, it's because you've seen it in Brampton and Mississauga -- both locations opened in 2017. This independently owned and operated juice bar will not only serve fresh juice, but also smoothies (including bowls), milkshakes, cocktails, salads, wraps, and quick health shots.

Even better news? All menu items are under $15 -- so it's perfect for anyone looking for a healthy, affordable lunch. Exhibit A: Avocado Toast - served on rye bread - is $2.99. Exhibit B: Salads and wraps are $5.99. Portions aren't stingy.

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