Liberty Village, once an industrial nook of Toronto, is now a bustling hub for young professionals and startups. With the growth of this hip neighborhood, new restaurants, bars and coffee shops have popped up on nearly every corner. Bugigattolo, which brings Calabrian cuisine to Toronto, might be a new kid on the block, but it is certainly here to stay.
Bugigattolo, an Italian eatery new to Liberty Village, boasts a simple facade of brick and is tucked away in a small alleyway in the centre of the neighborhood. Enter and you’ll find a chalkboard menu, an open kitchen, and a rustic interior with pops of red, yellow, and green. You’ll be greeted with a warm smile by the owner’s fianceé, Pat, who will lead you to your seat at one of the small, white marble tables that line the brick exposed wall. Photos from owner Francesco’s Italian heritage show off his Calabrian roots and give the spot a homey feel — you’ll surely feel as if you’re in a nonna’s kitchen in southern Italy. Due to the small space, Francesco has little room for storage, so he does his shopping every morning and hits up local butchers and markets. Francesco maintains a seasonal menu, grabbing the freshest organic produce he can find and preparing his menu for that day accordingly.
The dishes at Bugigattolo are simple Italian classics that include pizzas, salads, soups and pasta. Inspired by his childhood, this businessman-turned-chef from Tropea begins each meal with the standard Italian tradition — freshly baked focaccia served in a paper bag with a side of pickled veg in olive oil. Go for the eggplant parmesan (theirs is a lighter but incredibly tasty version) or the all-day breakfast favorite Uova Affogato — toasted ciabatta, ricotta cheese and spicy ‘Nduja, which is a typical Calabrian spicy pork spread.
If you’re looking for a truly authentic experience, head here for dinner, where you’ll be in charge of the menu. You’ll converse with the chef and decide what you’re in the mood for, and Francesco will design the courses from there. The number of courses is up to the guest, with 14 being the highest so far, but the price is more than reasonable ($35-$55 per person). Special requests are welcome, and be sure to finish your meal with an espresso and a fresh pastry.
This new joint is worth the visit, and thanks to Pat and Francesco, you’re bound to leave happy. Stay tuned, since Bugigattolo will add a rooftop patio and a beverage license in summer 2016.
Hours: 9am-11pm; closed from 4-6pm
Bugigattolo Kitchen, 54 Fraser Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 583 3895
By Alexia Wulff