TORONTO — In today’s competitive foodservice landscape, not many eateries stay in business for more than a few years so when one manages to mark its 25th anniversary, it’s clearly a great achievement.
Roberto and Lucia Martella are one of the few restaurateurs in Toronto to garner that distinction. This weekend, the affable couple celebrated 25 years of operating Grano restaurant, a rustic Italian eatery they opened in 1986.
The restaurant, located at 2035 Yonge Street, has become more than just a place to eat great Italian food; it’s become an institution and a focal point of the Yonge/Eglinton community. In addition to serving great Italian food in a casual and relaxed environment, the Martellas host a bevy of cultural events. For example, throughout the year, for a 10-week session, the couple hosts a Language and Linguini series, which gives customers a chance to dine on a three-course menu while learning Italian.
While Lucia cooks in the basement kitchen, Roberto welcomes guests to what has become an extension of his home, as the couple and their four children actually live atop the restaurant. As part of the open house held Oct. 23, the Martellas welcomed Sandro Boscaini, proprietor of Masi winery in Italy. Guests, representing a who’s who of the Italian community as well as frequent restaurant patrons, nibbled on menu items created by Lucia and also sampled from a selection of Masi’s award-winning wines, including its renowned Amarone.
This past summer, the restaurant hosted a special celebration marking the 60th anniversary of Ruth Orkin’s famous iconic photo called “The American Girl in Italy.” The photo, by Ruth Orkin, and featuring Nina Lee Craig, depicts an American girl walking down Florence’s Piazza della Repubblica, while being ogled by a slew of American men. It became one of the most famous photos ever taken.