Discover Canada’s Best New Bars
Toronto, ON
972 College St. W.  |  416-964-0606  |
By Nancy MatsumotoPhotos by Alanna Hale

Know before starting that the desserts are magnificent. Torta della Nonna, a wildflower-honey and pine-nut tart with vanilla mascarpone, is like a butter tart that studied abroad in Italy and returned looking stylish. And red fife gets a makeover in the tiramisu, where tender heritage-wheat sponge cake comes layered with custard, chocolate, espresso, dark rum and Italian brandy.

Chef Rob Rossi overhauled his meat-centric Bestellen space with the help of the design firm Guido Costantino. They’ve found the sweet spot between elegance and simplicity, just as Rossi has with his menu. Grey Italian wool walls, copper accents and terrazzo floors frame the space, while a candlelit amaro cart invites guests in for an aperitivo. This is the place to dress up and watch some serious cooking action from the chef’s bar, preferably while sipping a light and bitter Giulietta Spritz, made with an orange-peel-and-gentian-scented Aperitivo Bèrto from Quaglia. The skewered olive gets its own gold-rimmed plate for the pit.

Sweet sausage-wrapped Castelvetrano olives, breaded, deep-fried and dusted with pecorino, are Missoni-clad versions of the ubiquitous app. Grilled octopus with creamy cannellini beans gets a well-calibrated hit of acid in a bright caper-lemon-herb salsa verde. Pair it with a honey-nosed falanghina Campania off a wine list that roams the Old World but lingers on Italy.

“We didn’t know they were engraved until we polished and polished!” our server tells us of the elegant vintage cutlery. That could be the motto here: Polish and polish, until familiar dishes gleam anew.

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