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Restaurants, Food

Inside Sugo: Toronto's new red sauce Italian restaurant

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Jason Finestone Sep 05, 2017 4:37 am 191

Sugo is the Italian word for “sauce”.

More colloquially, sugo is used to describe the indelible pomodoro (tomato) sauce that constitutes the base for a multitude of Italian dishes. It’s simple, and like the namesake restaurant owned and operated by Alex Wallen, Connor Joerin and Scott Pennock (all former owners and/or employees of the neighbouring restaurant The Emerson) this new Bloordale joint is as simple as it gets.

According to Wallen, who runs the front of house, the trio had a down home focus for this restaurant, predicated by one of their most frequently consumed food items – the humble veal sandwich.

“We wanted to capture that Eastern Seaboard, Italian high top table, red sauce type joint,” he says.

Sugo toronto Italian restaurant

Jason Finestone/Daily Hive

The guys spent a week in NYC and Brooklyn hitting up all the old-school spots, and trying to duplicate their favourite elements of the classics, like spaghetti pomodoro, stuffed peppers, veal sandwiches and the tenable caprese salad.

Sugo toronto Italian restaurant

Jason Finestone/Daily Hive

The no reservations spot places 20 seats around the room with a jits table (foosball) to complement the nostalgic ambiance. Grab your requisite Moretti or Castello beer, perhaps a Brio or espresso and chit chat with the boys as they do their thing. If you’ve never tried Lambrusco ($9), a bottle fermented sparkling Sangiovese red wine with herbaceous overtones, that may be the only way to broach the unfamiliar.

Sugo toronto Italian restaurant salad

Jason Finestone/Daily Hive

Chef Connor hand pulls mozzarella in house each day – silky slices are layered between thick ripe tomatoes and Ontario basil for their Caprese salad ($10).

Sugo toronto Italian restaurant meatball

Jason Finestone/Daily Hive

Meatballs ($6/per) the size of a baseball are made up of veal, pork, beef, asiago, ricotta, and parm. They poach for hours in the red sauce, absorbing the crimson nectar straight to the core.

Sugo toronto Italian restaurant sandwich

Jason Finestone/Daily Hive

Strianese San Marzano tomatoes make up the base of their sugo, which is liberally slathered atop hefty wedges of white Ontario borvimi veal and melted mozza on a Fred’s Bread sesame bun for their veal sammy ($12). Soup up your sandwich with peppers, mushrooms or onions for a half dollar each. Vegetarians can opt for a tranche of fried Italian eggplant ($10) if their palates prefer.

Sugo toronto Italian restaurant pasta

Jason Finestone/Daily Hive

Ricotta gnocchi ($9) is also made in house. It’s topped with whipped ricotta, and what else? Sugo. The spaghetti ($9) comes with a meat sauce – of course, the base is sugo.

Sugo toronto Italian restaurant red sauce tomato

Jason Finestone/Daily Hive

“It’s tomatoes, worked the right way, and a little seasoning, you know what I mean?”

Yes, we do Alex. Simple as that.

Sugo toronto Italian restaurant

Jason Finestone/Daily Hive

Sugo

Address: 1281 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Phone: 416-535-1717

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Jason Finestone
Jason is a freelance food and travel writer and the Chief Experience Officer at U-Feast, a website to discover unique, off-menu dining experiences. A lover of dumplings, noodle soups and schmaltz, his ethnically inclined palate is constantly searching for the next flavour wave in Toronto and beyond.

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