The beauty of Giulietta isn’t in the new Toronto eatery’s bells and whistles. Of course, an intimate chef’s bar, fresh produce display and elegant amaro cart are all accoutrements worth mentioning, but they’re not what turns heads. Rather, in a culinary landscape where Italian cuisine endures regular reinvention, what sets this restaurant apart is its refusal to be defined.
Giulietta’s muted space, made up of soft grey tones, flecked marble, brick-coloured benches and woolen walls, is embellished by vintage wedding cutlery and perky jazz. A curious combination of fluorescent lightbulbs and glimmering votive candles conjures a sort of futuristically romantic atmosphere, while servers breezing from table to table are both cheerful and relaxed. Such complimentary contrasts, along with unpretentious drinks and vegetable-forward fare, is exactly what owners, chef Rob Rossi and David Minicucci, had in mind.
“We’re looking for new ways to provide people with the classics,” Rossi says of the dining concept, which opened late spring in Toronto’s Little Italy. “All the food here should under-promise and over-deliver.”
In a culinary landscape where Italian cuisine endures regular reinvention, what sets this restaurant apart is its refusal to be defined.
Giulietta’s flavours run the gamut of classic Italian cuisine with plenty of pasta, gnocchi, seafood, and meaty olives, but diverge from the ordinary when it comes to dishes like braised goat and Sicilian pistachio pizza. The menu aims to shine a light on its plant-based components rather than the standard carne—although those with a meat tooth will find an Ontario-raised porterhouse to their liking.
Unsure what to order? Seek the expertise of Giulietta’s enthusiastic servers—we did so and were met with an appetizer of prosciutto cotto and zesty fennel and orange salad that paired well with a sprightly Lambrusco spritz, a rustic saltimbocca de cappone (capon and prosciutto in a buttery, sage wine sauce) and scarpinocc (pasta filled with a biting Taleggio cheese, topped with hen of the woods mushrooms) made all the more memorable with a smoky glass of Frappato.
In fact, incorporating exceptional, seasonal ingredients into his menu is first and foremost for Rossi, who sources his capon from Ferme des Voltigeurs in Quebec, and brings the pepper for his cacio e pepe from Cambodia.
“I don’t want to have what every [other restaurant] has,” Rossi explains of his sourcing strategy, which ensures even the most die-hard Italian foodies find something surprising on the menu. “Here, everyone gets a handmade dish.”
Giulietta, 972 College Street West, Toronto, ON.
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