It might surprise you to think of Sudbury as an international destination, but you’ll understand once you start exploring the food scene in this Northeastern Ontario city.
To help you launch an eating-around-the-world tour in Sudbury, we’ve highlighted three of the community’s international food purveyors. Just beware: if you read this story before lunch, drooling may ensue.
Sudbury’s Perogy Princess
Her name is Mary Bedkowski, but this long-time Sudbury resident may be better known as the “Perogy Princess.”
Working from a licensed kitchen in her home, Bedkowski makes the Eastern European dumplings known as pierogi, filling them with cheese, potatoes, sauerkraut, bacon, or fruits. She also prepares cabbage rolls, pickles, jams, and jellies, selling all her products at Sudbury markets and local events.
She was one of the original vendors to supply Eat Local, Sudbury’s grocery co-operative, where many products come from within 250 kilometres (150 miles) of the city. Bedkowski says that at events like the annual Northern Lights Festival Boréal, her homemade goodies are a healthier alternative to what she calls typical “heart-attack-on-a-plate food.”
“I try to use as much local produce as I can,” Bedkowski explains. “My son’s gardens are huge.”
Bedkowski started her business more than 15 years ago, using her family’s recipes. Her parents immigrated to Canada from Poland, and she grew up eating “everything Polish.”
These days, “we’re swinging back to the whole food idea,” she says. “There’s a demand for home-based whole food,” like her wholesome pierogis and preserves.
The best compliment that someone can give, Bedkowski concludes, is that “my pierogis are like their mother or grandmother used to make.” That’s how she knows she’s living up to her title as Sudbury’s “Perogy Princess.”
Mark Gregorini’s parents were also immigrants, settling in the Sudbury region after leaving their native Italy in the 1960s. Today, the Gregorini family keeps many of their food traditions alive at Ristorante Verdicchio , the modern Italian restaurant that they originally opened as a 40-seat trattoria in 1994.
The restaurant has since expanded, relocating to a larger space on Kelly Lake Road, where the Verdicchio team cures duck prosciutto and other salumi in the restaurant’s basement curing room. They make many of their pastas and produce several varieties of vinegar. Kitchen staff grow herbs out on the back patio that doubles as a function space.
You’ll find those house-cured meats on their popular antipasti platter, while the pastas might include asparagus and ricotta-stuffed ravioli, or spaghetti tossed with clams, mussels, calamari, and baby shrimp. Among their heartier plates are roasted rabbit with lentil stew and sautéed rapini, beef strip loin served with a mix of kale and cherry tomatoes, and rainbow trout paired with polenta and a sweet pea purée.
“We take old recipes and modernize them,” Gregorini says, using both local products and ingredients like olive oil imported from Italy.
Their wine list is 100 percent Italian and, according to Gregorini, they typically have 4,000 bottles in their wine cellar.
On Tuesday evenings from now through the fall, Verdicchio hosts a family-friendly pizza night on their patio, complete with live music—a traditional Italian food celebration from their family to yours.
Vegan Mexican Food in Sudbury?
You might not expect that Northeastern Ontario would be an easy place to find Mexican food. Particularly vegan Mexican food.
But then you might not have visited Tucos Taco Lounge, a casually hip Sudbury restaurant and lounge that crafts Mexican-inspired dishes without using meat, seafood, eggs, or dairy.
Tucos’ chefs make “carnitas,” typically a slow-cooked pork dish, with jackfruit. Their “phish” tacos aren’t fish; they’re made with beer-battered avocado (an inspired idea!) and served with a salsa verde. Sopes—thick handmade corn tortillas—are topped with black beans, guacamole, pickled onions, and cabbage; even diehard carnivores are unlikely to miss the meat on this hearty plate.
You can dig into your Mexican fare as you sit at a wooden spool table on Tucos’ patio, sipping a beer from local craft brewers like Stack Brewing or Manitoulin Brewing Company. While it might not truly feel like you’re on a beach in Mexico, this urban retreat provides an almost tropical break in your Ontario summer.
And it’s just one more stop on a round-the-world eating tour—a tour you can take without leaving Sudbury.
– ### –
Travel writer Carolyn B. Heller is the author of Moon Handbooks: Ontario, a 480-page guide to the best activities and experiences, lodgings, food, and fun across the province.