Introducing: Locomotive, a new café and sandwich shop in the Junction

Introducing: Locomotive, a new café and sandwich shop in the Junction

Owners Vito Carnovale and Paul Araujo outside their new Junction café (Image: Caroline Aksich) 

Childhood friends Vito Carnovale and Paul Araujo have been conspiring to open their take on the perfect café for the past decade. Carnovale had opened four cafés before, all named Sello, but the two wanted to embark on a project together. After years of property hunting, they finally found the perfect venue inside an 1879 Junction red-brick. To pay tribute to the neighbourhood’s train-rich history, the pair decided to name their new venture Locomotive.

The train theme goes beyond the name. A lighting conduit on the ceiling was configured to evoke a train-track junction, and about half of the decorative prints depict the Junction back before the electric light bulb became a household mainstay. Araujo even managed to up-cycle some original Douglas fir joists into the café’s tables and shelves.

Locomotive may not have a hood or a grill, but it does have an induction oven and a workhorse of an Italian espresso machine. “We’re working within our limitations to make something simple, fresh, homemade,” says Carnovale. Currently, there are only five sandwiches on the menu, all of which follow the same formula: a Portuguese bun from Caldense, a protein and one topping. The roast chicken sandwich ($5.99) is made with 24-hour brined chicken that has been roasted and pulled, garnished with caramelized onions and topped with Locomotive’s homemade mayo and piri-piri sauce. The turkey club ($6.99) is made with sage-brined turkey breast, their unsmoked house-cured bacon, lettuce, cherry tomatoes and mayo. The vegetarian ($5.99), meanwhile, features mozzarella and provolone, and a roasted portobello mushroom smothered in their house peperonata sauce.

At the moment, breakfast options are limited to Montreal-style bagels, croissants and bread, topped with jam, peanut butter or cheese ($1.50–2.50), or the house-cured Pacific salmon lox with cream cheese ($6). Carnovale and Araujo are looking to expand their breakfast options to include baked eggs, portion-sized frittatas and BLTs. True to the history of the Junction, Locomotive is currently unlicensed—although the two owners aren’t committed to staying dry forever.

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Locomotive, 3070 Dundas St. W., 416-769-6989.