What’s on the menu at Piano Piano, Victor Barry’s new Italian restaurant

What’s on the menu at Piano Piano, Victor Barry’s new Italian restaurant

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)

Our Review of Piano Piano

Name: Piano Piano
Neighbourhood: University
Contact: 88 Harbord St., 416-929-7788, pianopianotherestaurant.com, @pianopianotherestaurant
Previously: Splendido
Owner and executive chef: Victor Barry
Chefs: Jeff Lapointe (Splendido, Ufficio), Allison Grundman (Splendido)

The food

The Canadian-Italian dinner menu features old-school favourites (rigatoni, veal parm, wood-fired pizza) all made from scratch. There are also gluten- and dairy-free menus, and a kids’ menu that was devised by a nutritionist. “I have kids,” says Barry, “and I don’t want them eating just chicken fingers and fries.” The name of the restaurant is short for “piano piano va lontano” (Italian for “slowly, slowly one goes further”), and Barry says the concept is the end result of his decision to close Splendido’s: the new menu is less fussy, and he won’t always be cooking in the kitchen. “I’m slowing down a little bit to make things easier on myself and my family.”

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean) (Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)
 

Chopped salad with arugula, brussels sprouts, dandelion, salami, olives, feta, oregano, crispy polenta and chimichurri. $16.

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean) (Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)
 

Marinated sardines with poblano peppers and chimichurri, served on toast. $9.

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean) (Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)
 

Tenderloin carpaccio topped with arugula, button mushrooms, parmesan and anchovy. $18.

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean) (Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)
 

The Bitters pizza: scamorza, parmesan, dandelion, kale, garlic, chilies and lemon. $20.

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean) (Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)
 

Tortelli con Bolognese: ricotta-and-parm filled tortelli, buttered and served on pork-and-beef Bolognese. $15/$23.

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean) (Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)
 

Rigatoni alla vodka. $15/$23.

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean) (Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)
 

Veal parmesan with mozzarella, tomato, soppressata and basil. $27.

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean) (Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)
 

Ginger carrot cake (for two) with rum raisins and spicy pecans is served with a scoop of sweet potato ice cream. It’s all finished table-side with crema fresca. $18.

(Image: Renée Suen) (Image: Renée Suen)
 

The menu was designed to look like a newspaper and will change every four months, with new stories and photos.

Drinks

A short selection of beer and an international wine card (with bottles starting at $40). Bar Manager Jeff Carroll (The County General) makes the cocktails, including a gin and tonic that uses Carroll’s house-made tonic syrup.

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean) (Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)
 
The space

The 80-seat space is decorated with floral motifs, brass fixtures, polka-dotted banquettes—and original artwork by Barry’s two-year-old daughter Charlotte. In April, Picollo Piano, a more casual, 28-seat pizzeria will open in the basement (formerly Splendido’s wine cellar and private dining room) with a kids’ play area.

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean) (Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)
 

Here’s the main dining room.

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean) (Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)
 

There are bar and window seats, too.

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean) (Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)
 

And here’s the artist, hard at work (with some assistance from designer Tiffany Pratt).

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean) (Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)
 

Just look at that concentration.

(Image: Renée Suen) (Image: Renée Suen)
 

Barry in the kitchen.

(Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean) (Image: Nikki Leigh Mckean)
 

Correction

March 24, 2016