February 24, 2017
The Gist: Owner and chef Michelle Bouzide grew up in the biz - her family owned restaurants and food businesses, so it was a natural progression to opening up her own spot.
Little Sito is an ode to her grandmother and great-grandmother’s home-cooked recipes, now 100 years old, many of which Bouzide uses today.
"This (restaurant) is for her," she says. It’s even named for her – Situ in Lebanese means grandmother, and little was added for her tiny stature.
Some dishes may be familiar – hummus, tabouleh, fattoush salad - but others are peasant dishes that you don’t often find outside family homes. Dishes are meant to be shared. Bouzide says. "I love sharing this food with people."
Choose from mezza (starters), soup, salads, sharing plates, and mains that can also be shared. Most dishes range from $5-$16. Larger sharing platters for two – vegetarian $30 and meat $55 – are also available.
Grub: This home cooking is filled with healthy options. "A lot of it is straight up vegetarian"” Bouzide says, with many vegan, gluten- and dairy-free. selections as well. Only two dishes are fried – Falafel and Cauliflower. "It’s okay to have a few indulgences," she says.
Everything is made in house except for pitas and baklava - if the kitchen were bigger, Bouzide would make these here as well.
Libations: Choose from local brews ($7), cider ($7), wine ($8-$10/gls, $35-$45 btl) and a few cocktails including the after dinner Sito Royale ($9) made with espresso, brandy and Baileys Irish Cream.
Non-alcoholic options include coffees, teas and locally-sourced sparkling water.
Fixtures & Fittings: Bouzide and partner Mitch Perkins discovered a lot in the extensive renovations: In taking up the ceramic tile floor they found concrete underneath, and behind the dry wall were fake wood beams.
They kept the brick and concrete, and added plaster touches to the wall. Bouzide brought in plants from home and the result is a sleek modern room with rustic touches that's warm and inviting. A small bar smack dab in the center gives guests breathing room with seating available in the front and back.
You’ll feel right at home.
Off the Menu:
Red Lentil Soup ($5) Winter colds don’t stand a chance against this comforting thick puree of red lentils, onions and carrots, boosted with a hearty dose of freshly roasted cumin and black pepper.
Mjarda Mezza ($8) Bouzide says this is a "total peasant dish" that’s gaining in popularity, and served at breakfast in Lebanon. Canadian green lentils are cooked slowly with jalapenos, rice and caramelized onions.
Served with tahini sauce, pickled turnips and more onions, this satisfying fare will soon become your regular go-to order.
Jido’s Delight ($8) How can a dish so simple - cauliflower fried with only a seasoning of lemon juice and salt – be so addictive? Served with tahini sauce and zesty house-pickled turnip.
Loob'yeh B'zait ($12) Another slow cooked dish puts green beans in the spotlight.
Cooked with onions in olive oil and richly spiced with freshly roasted cumin, the beans get tender yet not soggy, awith a spicy finish. Served on rice with feta cheese and a side of fattoush salad, it’s a welcome change from all those other winter greens you've been packing away.
Hushwi on Hummous ($13) "You see this all over in Lebanon, but nowhere in North America," Bouzide says.
Satisfying without being heavy, Halal and antibiotic-free ground beef is sauteed with onion, pinenuts and spices, and served on a bed of hummus with fattoush salad.
At the Stove/Head Honcho: Chef Michelle Bouzide
FOH: Gerry Rozo
Map It: 840 Bloor St. W. (at Ossington)
Thurs to Sat 5-10pm
Phone It In: (647) 557-3145
Deets: The cozy room accommodates 30 guests. Take out is also available.
How Cool is This?! Back patio, brunch, lunch and full juice bar are in the works.
Check out our Facebook page for more photos.