1. Red snapper at La Bella Managua
At this Nicaraguan restaurant—the only one of its kind in Toronto—a three-quarter-pound red snapper is seasoned with roasted cornmeal, Cajun spice, and a trio of peppers (black, white, and lemon). Co-owner and chef Jesus Morales then pan-fries the fish and serves it alongside white rice, avocado salad, and tostones (green plantains). For snapper novices, Morales compares its mild taste to that of sole or tilapia.
Market price. 872 Bloor St. W., 416-913-4227.
2. B.C. sardines at Red Fish
Larger than their Mediterranean peers, B.C. sardines weigh in at four to five ounces, so only one counts as an appetizer here. Simply prepared with salt and pepper, this west-side fish is grilled, drizzled with a pickled-onion reduction, then garnished with a side of those pickled cipollini onions, along with a parsley salad and lemon zest. Chef and owner David Friedman suggests eating it whole—fillet, collar, cheeks, and all. When cooked properly, the flesh will be firm and fall away from its bitty bones.
$12. 890 College St., 416-733-3474.
3. Sea bass at Nami
Diners can watch their finned, clawed, or tentacled friends cooked to order on the Robata—a charcoal grill with Japanese origins that’s surrounded by bar seating. The sea bass is salted, skewered, then grilled over an open flame; covered in foil, it retains moisture so it stays juicy on the inside, but gets crispy on the outside. More adventurous eaters might prefer a whole eel tossed on the barbie.
Market price. 55 Adelaide St. E., 416-362-7373.
4. Halibut at Catch
At The Rushton’s sustainable-seafood sister restaurant, a P.E.I. halibut rings in at six pounds and can easily feed four. Chef Nigel Finley sears this bad boy on the grill before baking it, and finishes it off with a squeeze of lemon, some olive oil, and
a veggie garnish. Still hungry? There’s a 15- to 25-pound striped bass ($375-$625) that can be dinner for you and your crew, as long as the kitchen is given four days’ notice.
$175. 744 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-658-0568.