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French tacos land in Little Italy, East Thirty Six closes and the CN Tower's 360 Restaurant is taking reservations
Toronto restaurants are continuing to post “we’re hiring” notices as indoor dining resumes. Others are using the relaxed rules to host staff appreciation events, which are surely much needed given the past year of uncertainty.
This week’s roundup includes a couple of reverse-pivots (tired of that word yet?), as restaurants reimagine or scrap pandemic-attuned takeout and retail businesses and move back to being full-service dining experiences. Meanwhile, restaurants that opened for takeout and delivery-only in recent months are finally getting to welcome indoor diners for the first time.
Here are the Toronto restaurants that opened and closed for the week of July 21-27.
Bar Volo is closing the bottle shop in its College Street location Birreria Volo in preparation for a move into the nearby Royal Cinema’s lobby. Birreria Volo pivoted to retail when the province liberalized alcohol sales during the pandemic, so the team-up with the Royal means the bar will be able to welcome back indoor diners eventually. The owners said on Instagram they hope the Bottega Volo shop in the Royal will become “a staple grocery outlet for Little Italy.”
Ufficio, a plant-based and pescatarian Italian spot on Dundas West, has shut down after five years. The fine dining restaurant had to reimagine its menu for the comfort food era, but now that patio and indoor dining has returned a new Italian pasta joint from at least one of Ufficio’s owners, Gia Restaurant, has already filled the space.
1214 Dundas West, giarestaurant.ca
Roaring Twenties-style French bistro/cocktail bar East Thirty Six is done after eight years. “COVID has not been kind,” the owners wrote on Instagram. “And along with the incessant construction along Wellington St East, we have made the difficult decision to close permanently.
Chef Grant van Gameren (Bar Raval, Bar Isabel) is shutting down his chicken-centric takeout venture Don Pollo indefinitely to shift focus back to the fine dining Mexican spot Quetzal now that indoor dining is allowed again.
The revolving restaurant in the CN Tower is taking reservations again in advance of its July 29 return. The ubiquitous Toronto landmark reopened to visitors on July 23 after the province entered step 3 of the reopening plan. Diners who book prix fixes can also access the lookout and glass floor levels.
290 Bremner, cntower.ca
Vancouver-based “French taco” spot Brick’N’Cheese has soft launched a new location in Little Italy. Though it has nothing to do with Mexico and looks more like a burrito, the brick-like snack became a street food favourite among students two decades ago in France. They come stuffed with cheese, ground beef and chicken nuggets.
678 College, instagram.com/brickncheese
Pizza spot Pie Bar is teaming with pub Murphy’s Law on a pop-up pizza (and beer) garden with waterfront views. The menu includes a selection of wood-fired pizzas and salads. It’s open until the end of the summer.
Chefs Masaru Ogasawara and Natsuhiko Sugimoto are hosting a belated grand-opening night market on Saturday (July 31) for their ramen spot. The Queen West restaurant, which specializes in tori paitan (creamy chicken broth) ramen, opened in January when indoor dining was prohibited, so this is its official coming out. The day-long event will feature free samples, merch and prizes.
412 Queen West, midoriramen.com