After two and a half years, Leslieville’s Frankly Eatery, known for its Indo-Canadian fusion brunches, threw in the towel. Replacing it: Glas, an intimate, 20-seat wine bar headed up by a chef obsessed with freshness, elegance and detail. After eight years cooking in Italy, the UK and Montreal, including at several restaurants with Michelin stars, Danny Pantano returned home to hang out his own shingle. “Leslieville is the best place in the world and the people are so supportive and friendly,” he told us. His original plan was to open a chocolate shop, but when he saw the space he thought: wine bar.
Pantano is first generation Italian, his familiy hailing from Vipiteno and Verona in the northeast. “Dad had a huge garden and we hunted for game,” he recalls. “Mom was great at cooking game and other traditional dishes.” Pantano describes his food as “natural, fresh and seasonal.” Still, he’s no great fan of “local” as a label: “for me, cooking with local, seasonal products goes without saying. I only cook with the finest, local and seasonal produce I can find, with an emphasis on technique and elegance.” He sources fish from neighbour Hooked, meats from Sausage Partners and Kawartha Ecological Growers, cheeses from Montforte and Leslieville Cheese Market and picks up other items from the Leslieville Farmers’ Market. He admits that he ends up spending a fortune on his ingredients for the ever-changing menu—which may keep his dream of owning a sous vide machine out of reach for a while.
Pantano opened his doors in late June, after a simple paint job, banishing the gray walls for cream and grape popsicle purple but not changing too much else. It’s a simple space with a tiny, open, galley kitchen right in the dining room. Pantano likes to personally serve his customers, get to know them and, of course, take note of their reactions to his dishes. On our visit, those included poached sea bream that’s coated in almond flour, bread crumbs and paprika then crisped in the convection oven ($15) and lightly sautéed baby squid on green bean gazpacho ($11). The short but carefully selected wine list is full of Ontario bottles priced under $40. Still, there are some limitations to making do in a small space. There’s no exhaust system and therefore no frying—but that also suits him fine. “My cuisine is naturally light and healthy,” he says. “Not because I try to do that, but that’s just what you get when you poach and roast or serve fresh food raw.”
Glas, 1118 Queen St. E., 647-351-4527, @glaswinebar