TORONTO — Just when you thought Toronto’s Queen Street West couldn’t get any trendier a new Italian restaurant and bar opens in an unlikely location — a long-vacant church. The aptly named Church Aperitivo Bar, owned by Sandra Cassaro and David Beddia with a kitchen helmed by chef Fabio Sacca, brings the Italian aperitivo dining to the downtown strip.
“As the neighbourhood rapidly evolves, we wanted to offer a polished yet inviting space to cater to the demand,” says Cassaro of the 2,500-square-foot restaurant and bar. “Church is a place fitting for the district as it appeals to artists, business professionals and local residents. It’s a place for people to eat, enjoy great cocktails and stay all night.”
The Queen West eatery sticks to the traditional Italian small plates dining experience, hosting a daily Aperitivo Hour. From 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. guests receive a complimentary appetizer with the purchase of any beverage. “You shouldn’t have to commit to just one dish,” says Cassaro. “We want guests to sample a variety of items so our menu offers small plates that are ideal for sharing.”
The restaurant is housed in the former Slavic Pentecostal Parish, which was given a modern makeover that incorporated a “balanced and uncomplicated” aesthetic into the design. While the palette was kept a neutral black and white, the wood ceiling joists and brickwork were left exposed for a rustic touch. “The original church interior was a functional and honest space with a minimal amount of trimming; we wanted to respect the bones of the building,” said architect Guido Constantino of Guido Constantino Design Office Inc.