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The Brunch Capital of Canada Is…

You Gotta Eat Here! host John Catucci eats out — a lot. No really, A LOT. So when he told us that Victoria, B.C. is the official brunch capital of Canada, we listened (and drooled).

“People there are obsessed with brunch,” says John, noting that brunch spots in the garden city always have lineups, and that whenever the YGEH! crew visits a Victoria restaurant at brunchtime, it’s packed like a sweet-cheese blintz (which you can find at Victoria’s The Village).

Why are Victorians so hungry, particularly on weekend mornings? Maybe it’s all that fresh ocean air. But more likely, it’s the sheer variety of delicious eats that’s inspiring them to throw off the covers and queue for breakfast.

Jam Cafe

After all, if you could stuff your face with a tower of red velvet pancakes, or a heaping of brioche French toast topped with caramelized fruit, wouldn’t you? If you prefer savoury, how about a double stack of pancakes layered with pulled pork and topped with a maple BBQ glaze, jalapeño sour cream and pickled cabbage? All of these dishes and more are offered at Old Town’s Jam Café, which serves breakfast all day long.

Mo:Le

Speaking of all-day breakfasts, Mo:Le serves them too, offering an array of Tex-Mex and vegetarian fare, like poached eggs with tinga, eggs benny, red pepper polenta with eggs and fruit salsa, and huevos rancheros.

Shine Cafe

What if you knew that a Scottish breakfast of potato scones, black pudding, fried tomatoes and crispy rashers of bacon was just a quick stroll away? If you’re near one of Shine Café’s two locations, it is.

The Village Restaurant

And if we told you that red shakshuka, Montreal smoked meat-festooned bennys and a heaping platter of meat, fruit and roasted potatoes could all be yours with a quick trip to any of The Village Restaurant’s three Victoria locations, you’d go, right?

John Catucci is a funny guy, but Victoria’s brunch selection is serious business. And by the way, the meals pictured here are just the top of the flapjack stack. Be sure to check out our You Gotta Eat Here! Restaurant Locator for more details on Victoria’s best brunches.

Ravioli Fatti

John Catucci on Why You Gotta Eat in Italy

Arrivederci, Canada! On Friday, April 8th, 2016, host John Catucci of You Gotta Eat Here! heads to Italy to sample some the finest cuisine the country has to offer.

First, John heads to Rome to discover three must-eat restaurants in the Eternal City.

john-in-italy

“It’s an incredible eating experience,” he says of the trip. “There’s a difference in just the freshness of the food. There’s something about the soil, about the sun. We can’t get it here.”

The host raves about one restaurant in Rome called Flavio that offers the most delicious pasta he’s ever eaten.

“They had a ricotta pasta with a fresh tomato sauce, it wasn’t cooked. It was just fresh tomatoes that [the chef] squeezed with his hands and put mint, thyme and a whole bunch of other fresh herbs and tossed the pasta in it. That was probably the most delicious pasta I’ve ever eaten!”

Flavio's Ravioli Fatti in Cas alla Velaveodetto

Ravioli Fatti in Cas alla Velaveodetto from Flavio

Unlike here in Canada, Italians believe in smaller portions. Dining is an experience and according to John, Italians don’t rush their meals like we often do.

“There’s no rush to turn over tables. They have an appetite for food. They want the best food possible and they’ll wait around for it. That’s part of the culture. It’s waiting around for a table, being seen, enjoying the moment and having a glass of wine with your meal.”

All'Antico Vinaio's Favalosa

Favalosa from All’Antico Vinaio

Just when he thought he was full, it was off to Florence where John tasted paninis — worth lining up all day for — at the busy All’Antico Vinaio. He notes the sandwiches, made fresh to order, cost only 5 Euros.

“There was one fennel-based salami that was so delicious. It was thin and shredded. The bread, they bake fresh all day. There are two other restaurants across the street, so they bake the bread there and bring it back across to cut it,” he says.

But what’s a trip to Italy without pizza? That’s exactly what John ate at Tonda.

Tonda's Capricciosa

Capricciosa from Tonda

There, they make their cacio e pepe pizza by shaping the dough, then laying ice on it before putting it in the  oven. This slows the cooking process of the top of the dough, leaving it moist, while the bottom becomes crisp. John adds that chef and owner Stefano Callegari uses 200-year-old sourdough for the tasty pies.

Tonda's Cacio e Pepe Pizza

Cacio e Pepe from Tonda

Tune in to a special one-hour episode of You Gotta Eat Here! Italy Edition on Friday, April 8 at 9 E/P. No passport required!

You Gotta Eat Here: Dining for One on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day can be tough for single people but going out to dinner that night can be a nightmare! With restaurants full of annoying couples smooching through overpriced prix fixe menus, it’s enough to make you hide at home with a pizza.

But this year is going to be different. This Valentine’s Day, don’t hide your single self inside your house, go out and eat your feelings! And these restaurants from the upcoming 5th season of You Gotta Eat Here! have meals so good, you’ll want to enjoy all to yourself.

Prohibition Montréal -  Fried Chicken and Deep Fried     French Toast - IMG_20016

1. Prohibition (Montreal, QC) – Fried Chicken and Deep-Fried Challah French Toast

If no one’s making you hollah at home, get yourself some of this deep fried challah French toast with crispy fried chicken instead. Prohibition takes chicken and waffles to the next level with deep fried French toast, which is exactly as delicious as it sounds.

Southern Pork Chop - IMG_81046

2. The Cure (Toronto, ON) – Southern Pork Chop

Is there anything better than a pork chop to make you feel better? How about a pork chop that’s been marinated in butter milk then pan fried in crispy, golden cornmeal? With a plate of cheesy grits and cucumber relish, you’ll be glad to have this meal at The Cure all to yourself.

Flavio al Velavevodetto - Ravioli Fatti in Casa alla Velavevodetto - IMG_98326

3. Flavio al Velovevodetto (Rome, Italy) – Ravioli fatte in casa alla velavevodetto

While those other suckers are spending their money on roses and chocolates, why not treat yourself to a trip to Rome! Flavio’s handmade ravioli stuffed with creamy fresh ricotta, smothered in fresh tomatoes and more ricotta will make you forget your own name.

 The Earl Grey Cake Donut - IMG_86304

4. Cartems Donuterie (Vancouver, BC) – Earl Grey Cake Doughnut

So no one sent you flowers for Valentine’s Day? Who cares? Cartems Donuterie makes an Earl Grey tea glazed doughnut with rose petals sprinkled on top. Flowers wilt, love fades, but a doughnut sprinkled with roses is forever!

Catch the season 5 premiere of You Gotta Eat Here! Friday, February 26 at 9 E/P and catch up on episodes online.