A recipe for change in Hamilton


Following the success of The Good Son in Toronto, Vittorio Colacitti recently launched Born & Raised on James Street in Hamilton. (Adrian Brijbassi/

Story by Adrian Brijbassi Managing Editor

HAMILTON, ONTARIO — The name of his new restaurant alone should give you an indication of the pride Vittorio Colacitti feels for his hometown. Born & Raised opened in July, bringing Colacitti’s acclaimed cuisine to Hamilton, a city that has struggled over the years to change its image as a working-class steel town with little in the way of culture.

Colacitti, however, knows the community intimately and is eager to be a champion for it. Similar to what Dale MacKay has done for Saskatoon, Jeremy Charles for St. John’s and a brigade of Alberta chefs for Calgary, Colacitti is aiming to bring notoriety to a part of Canada that is not known for its culinary offerings. As he explains it, Hamilton — which is 60 kilometres (38 miles) from Toronto — is ripe for chef-driven restaurants to emerge.


The pizzas at both Born & Raised and The Good Son are cooked slowly in a wood oven and topped with seasonal ingredients, including the heirloom tomatoes on this pie. (Adrian Brijbassi/

“There’s a strong food heritage here but it was lost,” says Colacitti, whose family has lived in the Hamilton area since the late 1800s. Born & Raised features pictures of some of his ancestors on the streets of the city from the early 1900s. “I think this community needs good restaurants to come in. I think it deserves it. I’ve always felt an affinity to this area. It’s where I’m from, it’s where my family is from, and it’s been a goal of mine to open a restaurant here, and the time just felt right.”

Colacitti, who was a contestant on the reality-TV show Top Chef Canada, is splitting time between Born & Raised and The Good Son, the excellent restaurant he opened in 2014 in Toronto’s dynamic West Queen West neighbourhood. Both restaurants feature outstanding pizzas and a diverse range of flavours (Jerk Shrimp, Sea Bream Ceviche, and Green Mango Salad). Their ingredients are sourced from quality suppliers in southern Ontario.

Fine Dining Emerges in Hamilton

While The Good Son is among one of many stellar restaurants in its neighbourhood, Born & Raised can immediately stand out among the sparse dining choices in Hamilton.  

“You can get missed in Toronto because there’s so much bustle and even on the block where we are with The Good Son, there are many incredible places to eat,” Colacitti says. “Here, If you can do something good you will get noticed. There’s a lot of affluence in Hamilton now, so it’s more relevant to have a good dining scene and a good arts and culture scene as new wealth is coming in because of the attractive housing market.”

With the average house price in Toronto hitting $1.28 million, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board, people are searching for other communities and Hamilton is winning over many Ontarians forced out of the market in Canada’s largest city. Recently, a rush of buyers has caused a 10 per cent year-over-year increase in Hamilton’s home prices, with the average property going for $478,613, according to the Conference Board of Canada. The influx of new energy from Toronto brings creativity and eclecticism.

Hamilton just wrapped up the James Street Supercrawl, a three-day arts festival featuring an array of outstanding musicians, contemporary art displays, and gallery shows. Such cultural experiences attract visitors, makes Hamilton seem fun and tempts people to migrate to it. Many of those who arrive are diners accustomed to the level of quality Colacitti’s enterprises deliver.

“We’re raising the bar and giving people an incentive to come out and dine in Hamilton. The demand is there so for us it’s about meeting demand and exceeding it,” says the chef, who spent time earlier this decade working in Rome, where he polished his skills and his understanding of food sourcing practices. “It’s not about being a good restaurant for Hamilton, it’s about being a good restaurant no matter where it is.”


Address: 224 James Street North, Hamilton, ON (see map below)


Jerk Shrimp at The Good Son is wrapped in potato strings and served with mango. (Adrian Brijbassi/


Address: 1096 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON
You Must Order: Charcuterie and Cheese platter ($19)

Adrian is the editor of and He also edited "Inspired Cooking", a nutrition-focused cookbook featuring 20 of Canada's leading chefs and in support of the cancer-fighting charity, InspireHealth. "Inspired Cooking" was created in honour of Adrian's late wife and co-founder, Julia Pelish, who passed away of brain cancer in 2016. Adrian has won numerous awards for his travel writing, travel photography, and fiction, and has visited more than 55 countries. He is a former editor at the Toronto Star and New York Newsday, and was the social media and advocacy manager for Destination Canada. His articles have frequently appeared in the Huffington Post, Globe & Mail, and other major publications. He has appeared on national and local broadcasts, talking about travel, sports, creative writing and journalism. In 2019, he launched Trippzy, a travel-trivia app developed to educate consumers about destinations around the world.


  • David O'Garr

    September 16, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Colacitti is late to this party, he’s not leading the way and describing Hamilton with having little to no culture is just pure ignorance. I was interested in checking this place out, but I think I might pass now.

    • David O'Garr

      September 16, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      However, to be fair most of this is probably because the slant of an ignorant writer who knows little to nothing about Hamilton, so I might give this chef the benefit of the doubt.

  • Dogstardom

    September 16, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    What a condecending shit article. We have been building the scene here for 20 years. Make sure we know what resturants you are backing so the hipster mafia can blackball it. keep your fucking toronto money out of our fair city.

  • Sarah Compton

    September 16, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    I can understand you wanting to say nice things about his restaurant but please do not denigrate the very vibrant restaurant scene that has been growing here for the last ten years. If anything, he is a band wagon jumper. James St. N. had several other great, already established restaurants along with its unique boutiques before he opened his.

  • Mark Turnbull

    September 16, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    “Born & Raised can immediately stand out among the sparse dinning choices in Hamilton.”

    Are you kidding me? Clearly you know nothing about Hamilton. Do some research fist before you post trash article like this. Does this sound sparse to you? Salt Lick, Knead Pizza, WORK, Jack & Lois, Zylas, Mesa, Acclimation, Wild Orchid, Lake Road, Radius, Mezcal, Uno Mas, Nellie Two, The Ship, Two Black Sheep, Rapscallion, FSH&CHP, Hambrgr, The Mule.. all of those restaurants are on James ST. Or a stones throw away.

  • Melanie Cummings

    September 16, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    This knob calls himself a travel writer but obviously hasn’t been to Hamilton to write accurately about its arts and culture scene, and this restaurant owner says he was born and raised but didn’t know we already had a vibrant restaurant scene before he came along with his latest iteration. Do your homework, people. You’ve been missing out on a great city for a loooonggg time.

  • Elizabeth Marsh

    September 17, 2016 at 12:49 am

    I moved to Hamilton from Toronto 4 years ago, and was thrilled to find tons of great restaurants on/near James N, within walking distance of my new home. Although I miss the late night food in my downtown Toronto neighbourhood, I certainly haven’t encountered the sparse dining choices the writer refers to. Perhaps he should go back to Toronto and let the rest of us continue to enjoy the fantastic Hamilton food scene.

  • Kelly

    September 18, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Did the writer of this article even check out all the great restaurants in Hamilton before writing this article. Ever hear of checking facts before writing an article.
    Born & Raised is not about to add to the sparse dining in Hamilton or on James St. He is late to the party there are many fantastic restaurants already there have have been there for years doing their thing. If this is how you come to open your business to an already vibrant dining area by basically saying because of you it’s going to be great. Thanks it was already great with many great dining reataurants and that is why you chose James St.

  • Rebecca

    September 19, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Is this a joke? Who in the hell wrote this article? Obviously the author couldn’t be bothered to do his job and actually do any research, otherwise he might have realized that Hamilton is flooded with amazing restaurants, and that the city is known for its incredible arts and culture scene. Everyone else is right, Born & Raised is years late to the party, and there are plenty of other amazing restaurants around the James N area worth dining at.
    Maybe the author should do a little traveling himself and get cultured on Hamilton.

  • Genevieve

    September 21, 2016 at 1:43 am

    This article is INFURIATING on so many levels. Like all of the other commenters have mentioned, this is not an accurate depiction of Hamilton in any way. There is actually an extremely diverse and exciting food and arts scene, and it was here long before Born and Raised. It will also be here long after. It is also upsetting that the author, who clearly did very little research on this beautiful and dynamic city, is the Managing Editor of this site. Absolutely disgusting and lazy journalism, if you can even call it that. This story should be pulled and replaced with something that actually reflects reality. Honestly. I certainly will not be visiting this site again.


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