By Nicole Di Tomasso
After running a pop-up dining experience inside the Casa Loma Conservatory for the last year and a half, Toronto’s most internationally acclaimed restaurant, Don Alfonso 1890, will be re-opening at its permanent home in the Westin Harbour Castle, in early summer.
“The conservatory and library at Casa Loma are big tourist attractions and have been used for private events and weddings for many years,” says Nick Di Donato, president & CEO, Liberty Entertainment Group. “We felt that it wouldn’t be appropriate to remove that for a permanent restaurant, so our intention was always to be a pop-up restaurant with the objective of finding a permanent location.”
The restaurant first opened in the Financial District in 2018, but it surrendered to the devastating impacts of COVID-19 and looming condo development. Evidently, the brand lives on.
Construction at The Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto began April 1st and the design work started in mid-March. Nadia Di Donato, vice-president and creative director at LEG, has been working closely with developers to select unique interior design elements for the re-opening of Don Alfonso 1890. Most recently, she was recognized for her design work by LIV Hospitality Design Awards 2020 across three categories for two restaurant properties in Casa Loma, Don Alfonso 1890 and Blueblood Steakhouse. Don Alfonso 1890 won for its interior design in the Pop-up Bar/Restaurant/Lounge and Historic & Heritage categories.
Di Donato says art will be another unique element to the space. In fact, LEG has brought in English artist Damien Hirst to work on some art installations for the restaurant.
Furthermore, executive chef Daniele Corona will remain at the helm. The general managers will also resume their positions at the new location, allowing the team to expedite the re-opening. Supply-chain issues persist amid the ongoing pandemic, but Di Donato is confident that LEG will meet its target opening date.
“There have been some challenges with respect to supply chain and being able to obtain items on a timely basis, but we should be able to open by [early summer],” says Di Donato. “It’s a quick timeline, but we didn’t want to have the Don Alfonso brand closed for too long. Our guests want to be there and experience the restaurant, so we want to make sure we can open as soon as possible. We were fortunate to find an incredible location that’s best suited for Don Alfonso.”
Since opening in 2018, Don Alfonso has been recognized with multiple national and international awards and honours from Gambero Rosso, La Liste, Restaurant Design Global, OpenTable and more. Earlier this year, Don Alfonso 1890 was named Best Italian Restaurant in the World 2022 – Prosecco DOC Award by 50 Top Italy. Undoubtedly, the restaurant’s world-class design and cuisine will continue to receive incredible accolades from around the world.
“The project at the Westin Harbour Castle will provide us with incredible views of the city and the waterfront, so now we’re going to have a world-class culinary experience combined with world-class views of Toronto,” says Di Donato. “It’s going to be extraordinary, and I think people from Toronto and around the world will appreciate what we’re doing.”