Modus Ristorante, a new restaurant in the Financial District, might serve Italian food, but refreshingly, no one’s anxious to label it “rustic.” Behind Modus is Sam Genkov, owner of the 16-year-old District favourite Bravi Ristorante, and chef Bruce Woods, formerly of Brassaii.
No stranger to high-end Italian cuisine, Woods worked at Il Posto in the late ’90s, becoming executive chef and co-owner of Centro after taking over for Marc Thuet. Modus’s menu shows Woods back in his element, reimagining recognizable Italian classics as fine-dining creations. Starters include carpaccio of veal ($19) or swordfish ($16), as well as a buffalo mozzarella pomodoro salad ($17). Pastas, most of which are made in house, include butternut squash ravioli with braised duck and shaved black truffle ($26) and spaghettini with mozzarella-stuffed prime beef meatballs ($24). For secondi, there’s osso buco with parmesan polenta ($29) and a handful of seafood dishes like baked halibut ($27) and pan-roasted pickerel ($26). The long dessert menu features classics like gelato ($8), rum and ricotta fritters ($10) or cheeses from the Cheese Boutique ($16 for a selection of three).
Behind the restaurant’s 300-bottle wine program is sommelier Ruben Elmer of Profile Wine Group, who has also previously worked at Canoe and Auberge du Pommier. The list offers 10 reds and eight or nine whites by the glass, with a heavy focus on Italian, Californian and South American wines.
If the space feels familiarly “Financial District,” it’s because the design is the work of Mackay Wong Strategic Design, the group responsible for Glow, Vertical and Far Niente, to name a few. Rich golds, textured wallpaper and giant chandeliers create a subtly elegant space. At the front, there’s a large bar and lounge area to accommodate the 5 p.m. rush of schmoozing suits. At the back is the showpiece kitchen—on display for guests as well as passersby on York Street—and the elevated chef’s table, where groups of six to eight can sit and watch Woods at work.
Modus Ristorante, 145 King St. W., 416-861-9977, modusristorante.com.