Just Opened: Ciao Wine Bar mixes South Beach and Italy, and moves it all to Yorkville

Just Opened: Ciao Wine Bar mixes South Beach and Italy, and moves it all to Yorkville

Upstairs, downstairs: a modern staircase leads to Ciao's rustic underground (Courtesy of Ciao Wine Bar) 

For Ciao Wine Bar, its newest high-octane hub, the Liberty Entertainment Group has shaken up the formula that has served them well at Rosewater, Spice Route and Tattoo Rock Parlour: one part dinner, two parts party is being replaced with two parts dinner, one part party. “We’re diversifying our portfolio,” says CEO Nick Di Donato, who tapped his Neapolitan roots to give Ciao an authentic Italian feel (he added a pinch of South Beach for good measure).

The cavernous Twilight-chic wine cellar—stocked with mostly Italian bottles (like campaccio and tignanello) and cured meats—features exposed brick, vaulted ceilings and butcher block tables. A stone-oven pizza bar is a showy feature of the pan-Italian kitchen of chef Roberto Punzo (Peter Pan, Pronto). His menu features thin-crust Neapolitan pies, bistecca Florentine and southern-style prosciutto.

The upstairs is sprawling (the place is 8,000 square feet, total), and the wooden light fixtures dripping from the ceiling are ready-made conversation pieces for the Peroni-toting investors perched in the lounge. The Godfather flickers on the walls, and down-tempo Euro beats radiate from a glass DJ booth above the bar. Trendy rustic finishes are courtesy of Liberty designer Nadia Di Donato, who also kitted out Rosewater, Spice Route and C Lounge. Grainy woods and worn stone walls bring a requisite distressed touch to the sleek mirror and glass found throughout. Adjacent to the main dining room, a towering glass bar is stacked with limoncello, averna and other less-Italian liquors.

Di Donato may call Ciao a “relaxed Yorkville neighbourhood restaurant,” but the ol’ Liberty vibe is right at home here.

Ciao Wine Bar, 133 Yorkville Ave., 416-925-2143, ciaowinebar.com.