What sets Oretta apart from the dozens of other modern Italian restaurants dotting Toronto’s west side is its subtle, slick nod to Italy and its cuisine—you won’t find “rustic” wooden tables or focaccia-filled bread baskets here. Rather, the décor suggests an art deco interpretation of Italian beauty; the teal banquettes that circle Oretta’s perimeter are reminiscent of the waters along the Amalfi Coast. Its pink upholstered wall decal and shiny gold accents mimic Mediterranean sunsets.
The sister restaurant to Midtown’s Capocaccia Trattoria and Quanto Basta, Oretta is located on the ground floor of the recently built Thompson Residences development, which includes a swish rooftop pool and bar 16 floors up.
From outside, 25-foot windows reveal nearly the entire 200-seat restaurant. An impressive horseshoe-shaped marble bar designed by Toronto’s Commute Design takes centre stage. There’s also a private dining area upstairs and small café in the back.
While Food Network celebrity chef David Rocco is listed as brand ambassador, Toronto’s Christian Fontolan leads the kitchen. Dishes are inspired by the chef’s hometown in Italy, wedged between the mountains of Piedmont and the beaches of Le Marche, as well as places he spent cooking such as Lombardy, Bologna, and the Amalfi Coast.
“I try to stay loyal to Italian tradition, which to me, is based in cooking what my surroundings have to offer,” he says. “Back home, that meant nonna’s chickens and rabbits, her olives, herbs, and vegetables. At Oretta, my focus is on the colourful landscape of Italy’s flavours.”
On the menu, that translates to lightly fried olives stuffed with pork, and meatballs smothered in leek-tomato sauce. Pickled, smoked, and poached beets are brought to life with silky goat’s milk yogurt, and all pizzas and pastas are handmade in house. The tortelloni filled with heirloom carrots and ricotta, and tossed in brown butter, hazelnuts, and sage is a standout, while Fontolan’s favourite dish is the lamb shoulder, slow-cooked and served with cauliflower, potatoes, and mint sauce.
Coffee and Italian pastries are served in the café during daytime, and the restaurant’s dining room is open from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day, which means guests are encouraged to linger, take their time, and enjoy the view. As they say, “When in Rome…”
Photos by Brittany Mark.
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