Food Network’s David Rocco adds star power to Italian hot spot Oretta
Plus King Street’s swishy new Italian eatery and a German beer hall
“You’re going to eat food. That’s all I can promise,” says Chris White of Brothers Food & Wine, the restaurant he and his good friend Jonathan Nicolau opened above Bay subway station. The two have been working on developing the idea for a restaurant almost from the time they met. Both were working on the bar side of the business: Nicolau at the Swan, in its heyday, and White at Terroni on Queen West and Parkdale’s Electric Mud BBQ, where he was manager. At Brothers, Nicolau runs the kitchen with White found behind the 16 plus–seat bar.
Brothers’ food tends away from composed, full-meals-on-a-plate in favour of meat and a vegetable complement on a plate with sides ordered separately. Even though the menu changes constantly (something will rotate on the daily), they print a menu to help put guests at ease.
“Critical thought plays a huge role,” White says of how Nicolau designs dishes. Carpaccio, in some form or another, will almost always earn a spot on the menu, being one of Nicolau and White’s favourite ways to start a meal. The simple-sounding combination of mackerel, mint and pickled eggplant has been a mainstay for their first three months of business.
To emphasize the essential combination with food, they put “wine” in the name of the restaurant. The shifting wine list is put together by sommelier Courtney Stebbings, who comes to Brothers after stints at Lyle’s and the famous River Café in London, England. Social media popularity has stretched the capacity of the 30-seat room, but White stresses how important local regulars are to the business and, although they do take reservations, they try to hold back a few seats for walk-ins (Brothers Food & Wine, 1240 Bay St., 416-804-6066). — David Ort After months of waiting and many teaser photos on Instagram, Oretta has finally opened its doors. The noted trio behind the restaurant is Food Network celebrity chef David Rocco, restaurateur Salvatore Mele (Capocaccia Trattoria) and executive chef Christian Fontolan.
The multi-functional restaurant has a quick-service counter and café, in addition to the main dining room, which has been built around a centrepiece bar. Commute Design (Byblos, Little Sister) is responsible for the interior design, which features pops of teal and pastel pink along with plenty of brass accents in a very tall and stately room. The upstairs will serve as a private events space, complete with a kitchen studio where David Rocco may be spotted from time to time.
Chef Fontolan leads the main kitchen. The menu is divided into sharing plates, apps, pizza, pasta and mains. The frito misto ($14) features smelts, calamari and scallops lightly coated in a gluten-free batter. Burrata ($14) is served atop a mixture of pickled banana peppers, agrodolce carrots, pistachios and herbs.
Pizza is done Roman-style; the Parmigiana ($18) is topped with cherry tomato, fior di latte, eggplant, sausage, Parm and basil. Pastas are made inhouse and stretch from traditional ravioli to a purple pasta, coloured with the aid of red cabbage. As for dessert, the daily pastry selection provides customers with a taste of everything ($16) (Oretta, 633 King St. W., 416-944-1932). — Yvonne Tsui From the owners of Kensington Market’s Otto’s Berlin Döner comes Otto’s Bierhalle, a casual German eatery in the former Bristol space on Queen West.
“There’s a drinkability and purity to German beer,” says Konrad Droeske, one of the five owners behind Otto’s Bierhalle. The owners’ love of all things German stemmed from the group’s extensive world travel and love of electronic music, which led to creating a business that curated pop-up raves. During a pit stop in Berlin, they fell in love with Germany’s beer and street food.
Bar manager Adrian Murfin is largely responsible for the beer list at Otto’s Bierhalle. Lagers and wheat beers — two of the most well-known families of German beer — are well represented on the list. There are currently 24 beers on tap, including a balanced mix of German and local options. Of these, 18 are permanent and six will rotate. They are priced by the 11-, 14- or 20-ounce glass. But it doesn’t stop with draft. There are an additional 65 options available by the can or bottle, and that list will steadily grow.
Otto’s menu is meant for sharing. Traditional mains such as schweinshaxe ($24) — crispy-skinned roasted pork hock — can be found on the menu. The Choucroute Alsace ($45) is a platter laden with weisswurst, roast pork belly, house pickles, braised fennel and potato salad. Round things out with a Black Forest dacquoise ($7) (Otto’s Bierhalle, 1087 Queen St. W., 416-901-5472). — Yvonne Tsui
Beef carpaccio with enoki mushrooms at Brothers
Clockwise from top: Oretta’s burrata, its stately room, the choucroute Alsace platter at Otto’s Bierhalle