The menu at Toronto’s new Italian restaurant Bar Altura is always changing.
The new, nearly 80-seat restaurant from Ricardo Chico (Kay Pacha) and Marcello Tomarelli (Cibo Wine Bar) has taken over the Queen West address formerly Lo Zingaro and has the transformed the space into an airy cocktail bar and dining room adorned with fresh flowers.
“I wanted a great bar with really, really good food,” says Chico as he points out areas dedicated to lounging and dining.
The cuisine here is Italian, though Chef Marco Zandona (Via Allegro) doesn’t draw from any particular region. The menu is informed mainly by the availability of fresh and seasonal ingredients and Chef’s personal emotions.
“When you’ve got something that’s beautiful you got to go for it,” says Chef as he introduces a Caprese salad that’s only available for a limited time while tomatoes are in their prime.
It’s not your usual Caprese either.
Skinned and seeded, the tomatoes in this antipasti plate are stuffed with buffalo mozzarella and pecorino cheese which amount to an impressive presentation and simple yet stunning taste.
To see what Chef is most excited about at any moment, opt for the off-menu features. Today an octopus carpaccio showcases ultra-thin slices of octopus decorated with celery, fennel fronds, and Aperol pearls and is inspired by one of the house cocktails.
While decidedly not the focus, pizza and pasta are still represented on the menu. A spaghetti al pomodoro, gnocchi al coniglio, and agnolotti dal plin, are among the selections of primi, along with classic Margherita pies, and original offerings like one pizza dressed with smoked provolone cream with wilted spinach, ramps, and sunny side up eggs.
To drink, there’s an all Italian wine list and Peroni on tap is available from the bar, but it’s the cocktails from Will Publow (Rush Lane) that should not be ignored.
Publow designs accomplished bespoke cocktails based on likes and dislikes of the clientele and like Chef, he’s excited to play with seasonal ingredients resulting in recent creations like one nameless libation spiked with tequila and Cointreau lime then garnished with a fresh sprig of dill.
For now, the restaurant is open exclusively for dinner and drinks but a lunch menu is expected to launch in the weeks to come.
Address: 571 Queen Street West, Toronto