If you've ever walked into Kensington and found yourself following the tantalizing aroma of roasting jerk chicken to figure out the source, you're not alone!
The source of that mouthwatering aroma is Rasta Pasta, one of my favourite places to pick up a quick lunch (not fast food!) or something for dinner. Life is busy and although we cook dinner most nights, there are times when we just don't know what to make or hectic schedules means finding someone else to do the cooking for us. That's where Rasta Pasta comes in handy!
I was in Kensington doing some grocery shopping recently and picked up some Jamaica Mi Crazy Chicken with steamed veg for dinner that night at Rasta Pasta and got to chatting with one of the co-owners, Magnus Patterson about food, Kensington and what made he and his partner Mary Neglia, decide to open their own place.
What started out as a spot in the food court at El Gordo's, has now turned into two store fronts on Kensington Avenue with take-out at 61 and catering done out of 63. Rasta Pasta's cultural heritage brings together two of the most popular cuisines in a way that speaks to your palate and makes you feel like you just visited your favourite aunties house for dinner. Magnus and Mary blend their love of food, together with their Jamaican and Sicilian backgrounds, to create a hot spot for great fusion in Toronto.
Family, food and art in various forms, are central to Jamaican and Italian life and Rasta Pasta's menu is a gastronomic reflection of both cultures.
Magnus says that the idea for Rasta Pasta came from their summertime cook-outs with family and friends. Everyone kept telling them that they needed to start their own business which eventually led to them opening up in El Gordo's in September 2012. Having outgrown that space they moved into their own retail location at 61 Kensington Avenue in June of 2013 and expanded to number 63 last August.
Since opening their own place on Kensington Ave in 2013, Magnus could be seen outside Rasta Pasta cooking pan chicken. A sight and scent that became a part of the Kensington Market experience. Traditionally, jerk chicken is cooked in open ground pits in Jamaica but modern life doesn't lend itself to that practice which is where the "pan" came in. Steel drums are cut in half and used as grills and can be found in Toronto's Eglinton West neighbourhood and all along Red Hills Road in Kingston, Jamaica (late night pan chicken was the best after-club food in Kingston!).
Unfortunately, after receiving a complaint, the city stopped Rasta Pasta from cooking pan chicken on the street which makes no sense to me as there are so many vendors that have their goods/food outside their storefronts on the sidewalk. Part of the charm of Kensington Market is the variety of food and products that you can choose from right there on the street and it doesn't seem to be an issue in Eglinton West's West Indian community?? I really hope that the city will come to their senses and put Magnus back out there in time for the summer and definitely for Pedestrian Sunday's.
Now to the food. Their "Jamaica Mi Crazy Chicken" is extremely popular as is their signature dish, "Rasta Pasta". The flavours are authentic and the fusion dishes are a new take on some of your old favourites from both cultures. The jerk chicken is so good I eat it on its own! I need to branch out the next time I head in there because their menu looks amazing and everything smells so good. I think the jerk chicken panini "The Vatican" will be my next meal at Rasta Pasta but then again they do make a great curried goat called "Trenchtown Goat" or maybe "Dreadlock Pasta" will be the one...
I might just have to start at the top of the menu and work my way through the list every time I visit!
Prices are very, very reasonable and if you are fortunate enough to work nearby you can pick up their lunch special for only $4.99 between 11am-2pm. They deliver in the summertime but for the rest of the year you can try Hurrier delivery service which apparently will deliver a wide range of things for you, including your lunch!
closed on Mondays
Tues - Sat 11-7
61-63 Kensington Avenue
I really love this place, the owners and staff are friendly, the food is fantastic and the prices are great. Head over there for lunch, maybe pick up dinner for the family one night this week or have them cater your next event. One love xo