Food Network’s David Rocco adds star power to Italian hot spot Oretta
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 wine list comes courtesy of 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
ITALIAN AND THEN SOME
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 in-house 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
GEMMA BIER TRINKEN
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.
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. 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 include schweinshaxe ($24), and the choucroute Alsace ($45) is a platter laden with weisswurst, roast pork belly, house pickles, braised fennel and potato salad (Otto’s Bierhalle, 1087 Queen St. W., 416-9015472). — Yvonne Tsui
Clockwise from left: Oretta’s burrata, its stately room, the choucroute Alsace platter at Otto’s Bierhalle