Just Opened: Local Kitchen and Wine Bar

Just Opened: Local Kitchen and Wine Bar

Friends in food: Michael Sangregorio and Fabio Bondi at the counter of Local Kitchen and Wine Bar (Photo by Mary Luz Mejia) 

It takes guts to open a fledgling restaurant on a Parkdale strip during Toronto’s recent civil servant strike and this decidedly un-rosy economic era, but neither of these obstacles stopped lifelong friends Fabio Bondi and Michael Sangregorio from breathing life into a 29-seater they call Local Kitchen and Wine Bar. With Bondi manning the stoves (he trained in Umbria at the much-lauded Il Postale) and Sangregorio working the front of the house, the dynamic duo has done the near-impossible. “We finally did it!” beamed Sangregorio on the second night, as customers started drifting in.

The two left full-time gigs to follow their slow food dreams of opening an intimate space where cured meats hang by the kitchen alongside T-shirts and an apron exclaiming “I Heart Parkdale.” The room resembles a nonna’s eat-in kitchen, only with touches of west-end chic provided by artists Alain Parizeau and Adam Hilborn of neighbouring Parishil Studio. The bar’s feature wall is covered in newspaper headlines of years gone by and is graced by a tomato red vertical sign that reads “LOCAL” (just in case too many handcrafted cocktails render patrons unable to remember where they are).

The partners have made it their promise to use food “grown by local farmers using sustainable methods,” to make Italian-inflected piattini, or “little plates.” This way, says Bondi, “customers can have fun and mix and match flavours. It’s the way we like to eat.” The menu will change with the seasons or whenever there’s new produce on hand. Keep an eye out for Bondi’s house-made charcuterie options—guanciale, sopressata, culatello—all of which use Berkshire pork from Perth, Ontario. House-made pasta like the garganelli with Ontario tomatoes, basil and peperoncino will be a staple, as will stuffed tortellini (right now it’s stuffed with rabbit).

Sangregorio has sourced a largely Ontario-based wine list, including bottles from Daniel Lenko, Norman Hardie and Malivoire vineyards, with a few Italian bottles thrown in for good measure. If you’d rather an artisanal cocktail, there’s the boys’ newest creation, “Penny’s Cousin.” Named after the wild boar’s head that smiles down on the room from her post above the front door, this libation features “bacon washed bourbon,” maple syrup and grapefruit juice.

Local Kitchen and Wine Bar, 1710 Queen St. W. (at Triller Ave.), 416-534-6700, localkitchen.ca.