Bricco Kitchen & Wine Bar in The Junction serves not only some of the city’s best Italian fare, it’s also one of the most stunning, original rooms in the country.
Owner Eric Gennaro says, "I wanted it to look like it's always been here. I didn't want to do anything trendy. I wanted it to be a classic, not a tail end of a trend. Constant with a capital ‘k.’ I love this furniture. It's a reflection of me." This is his first restaurant.
The furniture is all mid-century modern teak, bought from independent vendors across the province (Oshawa, Pickering, Aurora) as well as from people’s home. Treated with natural orange oil and beeswax on top, they are resilient. The 45 chairs and 15 tables create a stunning streamlined look across the spacious dining room. One of the best features? The Hans Olsen design compact dining set from 1953. When you tuck the three chairs in, they disappear into the edge of the table. Even the modular unit featured at the bar is an beautiful teak piece.
"We try to keep it consistent, keep it classic, keep it fresh," Gennaro says. "This furniture will not go out of style."
Art too, is simple yet still dramatic. After visiting a winery in Tuscany with a lot of installation pieces, he was inspired. "The art was not meant to be or do anything but enhance your experience."
The sculpture at the front of the restaurant was created by the famous Toronto Brothers Dressler, and is 16 feet long. After seeing the original Dressler’s piece, Gennaro, who went to York for Fine Arts, asked them to add to it and extend it out of the wall, "so that you’re underneath it, a part of it. I wanted it to be part of the space but not be defined by negative space."
Gennaro wants you to have a connection with the space. The winemaker Telmo Rodriguez who make a wine called Gahi gave Gennaro a limited litho of his label "g" - number 69 of 200. Lights are original Aalto Alvar. Even the building itself physically juts out, on an angle – very unusual for the street. Bricco is also the only detached, free standing building on the street other than the mosque next door.
This is one of the few dining rooms in the city where tables aren’t clustered together, where you won’t be forced to listen to a neighbour’s conversation. Forty-five seats are spread out across the bi-level space (the lower level will soon to open for private dining and will feature a curing cellar). This is how fine dining should be.
Service too is fine dining – all servers are experienced in the craft – but somehow it manages to be casual and fun. Not stuffy in the least. You won’t find servers in aprons and ties here.
And then there is the spectacular food.
Gennaro was a sommelier at Crush Wine Bar when he met Chef Justin Zamperin. Gennaro’s father is from the south in Calabria, and his mom is from Veroli (some of the food is served on wooden plates from Mum's hometown), so doing Italian food makes sense.
The menu – created by both Gennaro and Zamperin – is based is Italian, but they do draw upon other influences from Gennaro’stravels and Canada. Wine selections are from all over the world.
The room is so beautiful, you might be tempted to think the food is expensive. It isn’t. You also don’t have to come in for a full dinner. "Our goal," says Gennaro "is for you to come in, have a glass of wine at bar and try some antipasto." You don’t have to give a full commitment.
But after you try the food, you’ll want more. All pastas are made in house and the menu features local products. Traditional dishes get a new twist, and special dishes are carefully considered. Recently there was prosciutto done three ways, as an homage to Gennaro’s mother’s home town, where a saying goes – even the country bird sings the prosciutto is ready to eat. Daily specials are available and there is always a pasta special.
Speaking of pasta, here at Bricco, having pasta is encouraged in between courses. Antipasto translated is "before pasta." The pasta here is unlike anything else. It’s so light, you won’t be weighed down like you’ve experienced in the past.
Wine flights are thematic, focusing on either regions or grapes. What a great way to try out different varietals. Should you prefer your own vino, corkage is just $2 on Mondays. There are also themed wine dinners once a month. Recently, pinot noir was featured, with six wines and five courses ($85/pp).
Not only is Bricco a must for date-night, it’s simply a must - whether you’re out with the family or discussing business over dinner. Everything from the Grilled Octopus with Red Pepper and Marcona Almonds ($17) to the Tagliatelle with Tomato and Basil ($16) and homemade wild boar sausage with cannellini beans and black kale ($23), will have you swooning in your chairs. The stunning teak chairs that you’ll fall so hard for, you’ll be tempted to take them home with you.
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Bricco Kitchen & Wine Bar is open for dinner and drinks six nights a week, closed Tuesdays.