Kara Mia, Halal Italian Restaurant in Vaughan

My husband’s birthday was just around the corner and after coming up with a disappointing list of intimate halal restaurants within the GTA, I decided to treat him to Kara Mia at the Vaughan location. We go there occasionally because we know the food is halal, the service is great and I’m greeted with an ‘Assalamalaikum’ each time. Plus, any time to eat awesome food not cooked by yours truly is a definite treat!

Almost everyone has been to Kara Mia, that’s why reviewing the restaurant was harder than I initially thought. We’ve all tasted their food, been catered to their hospitality and swapped a few friendly words with Executive Chef, Abderrahman Khallouk.

I read some reviews for Kara Mia to understand what Muslims and non-Muslims thought of the restaurant. A lot of people reviewed it positively for quality food, exceptional service and the obvious halal factor. A couple of reviews stated that the place was small and not capable of handling large parties, as well as the décor being less than average. I have personally been there a couple of times with a party of 8-10 guests and they always managed to keep a table aside for us. Mind you – we did make reservations. The size of the location is on the small side, but it gives off a cozy and intimate atmosphere. The walls are painted in a neutral brown tone mimicking the peaceful and soothing sensation of being in one’s own home. Having gone to Kara Mia numerous times, I was surprised I didn’t notice the paintings hung on the wall depicting Italian cities until that very day. All in all, I wouldn’t go as far as saying the décor is subpar. If you are looking for a fancy shmancy restaurant to wear your best outfit to, then Kara Mia is most likely not the restaurant for you.

Once we arrived at Kara Mia, the waitress greeted us, asked if we had reservations and guided us to our table. My husband knew from the night before what he wanted to order: Peppercorn steak with a side of grilled vegetables and saffron poutine (originally comes with fries, but we upgraded!) After browsing through the menu, I decided to go for the Fettuccini Kara Mia. It was something I’ve never tried before and I felt like treading on the wild side tonight. I also wanted to order something where we both can steal – er, share portions of our meal. For our drinks, we ordered a Peach Bellini and Pina Colada – obviously all virgin.

Kara Mia

While waiting for our drinks to arrive, I looked around and tried to view the restaurant in a different light. Depending on where you are seated, you can see the waitress making your drink, and the chef preparing your meal. You can tell the cooking/preparing area is clean and organized – kind of reminds me of my kitchen on a good day! I also noticed that every patron that entered the restaurant would make their way to the kitchen area to have a chat with the chef. Talk about friendly! We received our drinks with cute umbrellas, which were subsequently given to a child sitting on the table next to us (he asked so nicely and said please! How could we refuse?) The Pina Colada was sweet and creamy, with a bit of needed tang. The Peach Bellini was smooth, refreshing and had just a kiss of sweet peach flavour which was what I was hoping for. Bonus points for both drinks as they were enjoyed without the synthetic taste of commercial mixes. Overall, the drinks were rated with four thumbs-up.

Kara Mia


My biggest pet peeve is when restaurants bring out the orders at different times – what are people supposed to do? Enjoy their food while the other person who hasn’t received theirs salivates? Fortunately, we received our orders together! The Fettuccini Kara Mia was an absolute surprise. The alfredo sauce was creamy and delicious and the best part yet: the dish had a good helping of grilled chicken breast. I wasn’t a big fan of the sundried tomatoes, so I swapped those with my husband for a chunk of saffron poutine. A word of caution: when ordering poutine, bear in mind that you will get full really quickly and will most likely end up with enough food for lunch the next day.

Kara Mia

We asked for our peppercorn steak medium-well and that’s exactly how we got it. My husband managed to eat his entire meal and was thoroughly satisfied. The vegetables were grilled to perfection and luckily, we didn’t end up with a dinky amount of fries in our poutine. I was thinking back to the menu and realized that the peppercorn and saffron sauce is used in a lot of their dishes – but hey, if it’s not broken, why fix it!?

After finishing our meal, we did what we rarely do after eating at Kara Mia: order desert. We asked for the desert menu and the waitress responded by saying there wasn’t one. She verbally described the two types of cake they had: one was something I couldn’t pronounce and therefore didn’t bother to indulge in and the other was mocha sponge cake. We received a healthy slice of cake to share between the two of us and it was gone within two minutes. I found both the cake and the whipped cream frosting delicious; however, we both agreed it slightly possessed that tell-tale odour of being refrigerated. I would stick with heading across the street to Vaughan Mills for some gelato.

All in all, it was the intimate birthday dinner I had hoped for; although my husband was getting annoyed with the amount of pictures I was taking, but too bad, so sad!

Kara Mia
3175 Rutherford Rd., Unit 39, Bldg. H, east of Highway 400, Vaughan

Shabnam is a restaurant reviewer for Halal Foodie, follow her on twitter at @Shabz_1221

Kara Mia on Urbanspoon

By: July 9, 2012


  • I love Kara Mia because they are consistent. Their food is always great, the servers are always friendly, the service is prompt and the chef always interacts with the diners. I also like the cozy feel of the Vaughan location.

    My favourites are their penne picante rose, saffron chicken and peppercorn sauce poutine.

    I will try the Fettuccini Kara Mia next time inshallah as per your review. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Thanks for the comment Nadia!
    Personally, I don’t have a favourite at Kara Mia. I pretty much love everything that I’ve tried. However, I don’t think I’ve tried the penne picante rose – since it’s your favourite, I will definitely try it next time I’m there.
    Let me know your thoughts on Fettuccine Kara Mia once you’ve tried it!

  • I actually am not a fan of Kara Mia. Every time I have been there, service has been horrible to the point that my family had to wait more than 45min for food one time, and the restaurant wasn’t even busy! I even had to remind my waitress twice that we had asked for drinks that she kept forgetting to bring, on a separate occasion. Their dishes are mediocre in the sense that they’re all stuff I can make at home (like the pastas, for ex). And funny you mention that you like when dishes are brought out at the same time because that has NEVER happened for us at Kara Mia! We always end up having to wait for at least one or two people to be served before we can start eating.

    Oh well, perhaps you’ve been there on their good days, but the experience has been ruined for me.

  • Hmm I realize now that you’re talking about their Vaughan Mills location. I’ve only been to the Mississauga one, perhaps that might be it.

    • Halal Foodie on September 3, 2012

      Yes, our review was on the vaughan location which has always been consistently great (been going for years) :) hopefully the mississauga location improves! Try vaughan and let us know what you think!

  • Assalam alaikum Maria! Since I personally haven’t been to the Mississauga location, I rather not comment on it. However, the consensus is that the Vaughan location (with the head chef on site) is the better of the two restaurants. I hope you can try to drop by at the Vaughan location and have a better experience. If you do drop by, let me know how it went! We love customer reviews!

  • We went to the Mississauga location for our very first time because it was open on a Monday. We had a great, friendly experience. We had an 18 month old with us too. Spacious, clean, and there were no more than 3 dining tables full at any one time so it was empty. I thought the service was great, the food was warm and lovely in presentation, and I would go back just to have that strawberry daiquiri. I did hear the Vaughn location is better so we’re planning to visit there soon. It didn’t blow me away but it was reasonable, esp. since it was halal. I would say it’s my first time ever having pasta that wasn’t homemade (i.e. at a restaurant). BTW, we took food home so the servings are kind of large, which is good.

  • I had heard a lot about Kara Mia, and unfortunately I was not satisfied. The food was bland and tasteless. I was really disappointed. I was waiting to go and check it out for a whole year. I do not think I will go again.

  • Food was great. The staff, named Rashie was really nice, helpful and always smiley. I wish they had a bigger space since we had to wait for 30 minutes. Please don’t forget to make reservations before going. Well done Kara Mia!

  • My experience at the Mississauga location was probably the worse restaurant experience I have ever had.

    I had heard a lot of excellent things about Kara Mia and was looking forward to it. But as soon as the food arrived, I realized things weren’t as great as they were made out to be. My burger tasted rancid and I told the server so. She took it away and then came back a little while later with the ORIGINAL plate and proceeded to tell me that the chef said the meat was fresh and there’s nothing wrong with the burger. She told me that I probably wasn’t used to the taste of onions topping the burger and that that is what I was tasting. (For the record, I have eaten many onions – raw, stewed, broiled, fried – and I know exactly how they should taste.) The server refused to admit there could possibly be anything wrong. She was, in a word, clueless. I couldn’t finish my meal of course (because, remember, it was rancid) and when the server came to clear the table, she saw my nearly untouched plate and asked if I was still working on it… “No, I already told you, I can’t eat this because it tastes rotten.” She was unfazed by this and just took the plate away. Again, clueless.

    I should add that my friend at the meal also didn’t have the best of luck with her dish, but at least she got to eat something.

    To end off the horrible evening, when I was paying for the bill (no, they did not offer to cover the (non)meal on the house or even give a discount), the cashier did not have change and asked me to wait while she went to get change from the business next door. I am completely serious.

    All in all, food was horrible and service even worse. I make a point of discouraging my friends from going there.

    If you are thinking of visiting this restaurant, please don’t! There are much better places to eat in the same plaza or anywhere else in the city. Don’t waste your time or money at this place.

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