Commisso Brothers doesn’t really seem like a bakery. It’s set up like a convenience store. The shelves are full of dusty bottles of soda and esoteric Italian goods. In the back there is indeed a bakery counter with the usual selection of shortbread cookies and tartlets. You can smell bread baking, but most people come for the all-night steam table full of Italian casserole and pastas.
The steam table fare isn’t all that compelling, but the veal sandwich is well worth a visit. This is a peculiar Toronto staple that takes a beef (every place says it’s veal, but we’re not convinced) cutlet and smothers it in red sauce and peppers on a roll. The version at Commisso and Racco is different. It’s layered with sautéed mushrooms and is wet with juices from the steam table. The soggy “veal” cutlet is just okay. This sandwich is famous because it’s great late-night food, and because the house-baked bread and zesty tomato sauce are superb. Like all Toronto places, hot peppers here are face-melting. The combination of the piquant sauce and tasty veggies helps this sandwich go down like an overgrown slider.
There is no seating on premises, and the sandwich should be eaten before the wet bread completely disintegrates. Don’t even bother driving to a park. Eat it right away in your car or on one of the few benches out front.
Note that the bakery as well as its sister store (at 33 Eddystone Ave.) are infamous for being the sites of mafia violence. This location was bombed in the late sixties, and one of the Commisso Brothers was gunned down on Eddystone Ave. in 2000. Oddly enough, the rival family also operates a Southern Italian bakery in Toronto. However, the sporadic violence has nothing to do with cannoli recipes.
If you’re driving through Northern Toronto at night, this a good opportunity to experience local history and flavor without getting mired in city traffic. Just be sure to bring cash. Among the bizarre qualities of this place, it takes no credit cards.