If Toronto’s growing number of fromageries, pizza joints and restaurant cheese caves is any indication, the residents of this city love their cheese. It’s fitting, then, that Obikà Mozzarella Bar made its Canadian debut in downtown Toronto. After meeting with strong reviews in Rome, L.A. Tokyo and New York, Obikà opened this week at Brookfield Place in the heart of the Financial District. The sushi bar–inspired concept centres on one key ingredient: mozzarella di bufala from the Campagna region of Italy.
“I think, globally, there is a cheese revolution right now,” said Lorenzo Sibio, the president of Obikà Canada, who explained that the mozzarella bar is a product-oriented, rather than a chef-oriented, restaurant. Deliveries of the hand-kneaded cheese arrive twice a week from Italy to ensure freshness. Many of the other ingredients are locally sourced, including prosciutto and organic tomatoes.
The trio of mozzarellas ($34) includes the smooth classica, which dissolves on your tongue; the affumicata, which gets its unique flavour from a traditional hay smoker; and the stracciatella di burrata, a creamy cheese made from cow’s milk that is pulled rather than kneaded. The tasting platter of all three cheeses can be paired with a selection of cured meats ($12) or grilled vegetables ($8). Sushi-inspired rotoli are rolls of mozzarella prepared in front of you at the bar with salmon, prosciutto or beef fillings (platter of three, $24).
The restaurant, which specializes in light meals, is aimed squarely at nearby office workers. There are no onions or garlic on the menu—unusual for an Italian restaurant, but good for someone who is conscious of not offending co-workers with their breath.
Wood tables and chairs with steel accents are consistent with the Japanese aesthetic, and an olive tree is a nod to Obikà’s Italian roots. Between the regular seating, the communal table, the bar seating, and the private dining rooms, the restaurant seats 110.
Obikà, 181 Bay Street, 416-301-6870, obika.ca