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Food & Drink

What’s on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale’s new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant

By Erin Hershberg| Photography by Daniel Neuhaus
What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
The Gigi. $28

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Name: Bar Sugo Contact info: 1279 Bloor St. W., 416-792-1279, bar.sugotoronto.com, @bar_sugo
Neighbourhood: Bloordale Previously: Conzo’s Owners: Conor Joerin, Michelle Pennock and Alex Wallen Chef: Conor Joerin Accessibility: Not fully accessible

Raised in the west end by a single dad, Conor Joerin discovered the nuances and beauty of Italian cooking by spending time in the kitchens of his friends’ nonnas. “I was often cornered by grandmothers who knew that my mom wasn’t around and insisted that I eat a mortadella sandwich,” says Joerin. “Once I realized that there was maternal love and care connected to that nourishment, I naturally gravitated to spending time in other kitchens.” While a lot of thought goes into every dish at Bar Sugo, the nostalgically casual atmosphere and unpretentious, belly-filling food creates the sense that someone’s nonna is actually behind the scenes, stirring the sauce.

Bar Sugo
Joerin passes off a plate of pasta

Bar Sugo, which offers twice the seating of its sister spot next door, is more an extension of Sugo than a departure from it—except, this time, there’s pizza. With a wood-burning oven built out of bricks from Joerin’s former high school, the chef’s intent to honour the flavours and feels of the classic Toronto Italian spots he grew up on—Vinny Massimo’s, Pizza Fresca, Bitondo—is that much more attainable.

Bar Sugo
Co-owner Alex Wallen
The food

Plates piled with pasta, fat squares of lasagna, baseball-size meatballs and pizzas bubbling with buffalo mozzarella stream out of the kitchen like a Garfield dream sequence. Standout pies include the vegetarian Uncle Scotty, a combination of nut-free pesto, local whipped ricotta, basil and thinly sliced zucchini, and the meat-lover’s Bitondo, which tests the limits of the thin crust with indulgent mounds of bacon, pepperoni, sausage and buffalo mozzarella.

Bar Sugo
Garlic bread. $7

 

Bar Sugo
Sugo’s take on the classic mozzarella stick, coated in seasoned Italian bread crumbs. $9

 

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What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
Sugo’s caesar salad, dressed with a classic blend of egg, anchovy, olive oil and garlic and finished with grana padano, pancetta and house-made croutons. $14

 

What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
Gluten-free crispy calamari, coated in chickpea and rice flour, come with bonus crispy banana peppers. $24

 

What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
Some Bloordale Bolognese in action

 

What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
And hitting the plate. Joerin’s take on the classic dish is an unctuous blend of seared veal, pork and beef.

 

What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
And the finished dish. $19

 

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What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
Here we have the rigatoni in rosé sauce, Sugo’s rich red sauce with a splash of heavy cream, simmering in the pan.

 

What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
It gets a blanket of grated grana padano

 

Bar Sugo
And the finished dish. $17

 

Bar Sugo
Gluten-free potato gnocchi in a classic red sauce, finished with basil and local ricotta. $16

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Bar Sugo
Sugo’s giant pork, veal and beef meatball in red sauce, sprinkled with grana padano and finished with a basil leaf. $11

 

Bar Sugo
Equal parts spicy and savoury, the Gigi, Sugo’s classic pepperoni pie, bubbles as it comes out of the hot wood oven

 

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Bar Sugo
Then it’s sliced...

 

Bar Sugo
...and topped with grana padano and basil. $28

 

Bar Sugo
The Uncle Scotty pizza is covered with mounds of buffalo mozzarella, whipped ricotta, slices of zucchini, basil and house-made pesto. $28

 

Bar Sugo
Here’s a closer look

 

The drinks

Simple, easy-drinking Italian cocktails, like negronis and amaretto sours, as well as a rotating selection of featured drinks are complemented by a wine list that is equal parts old-world Italian and new-school natural. Whether one leans toward what bartender Jack Matthews cheekily refers to as “Woodbridge or Parkdale wines,” there is a selection available by the glass, ranging in price from $12 to $15. Bottles start at $55 and cap at $150. And, while it’s a bar by name, Joerin, who himself tends toward sobriety, makes sure that the non-alcoholic beverages are done with care. Case in point: the Enzoroni, Matthews’s take on the classic enzoni, a balanced combination of muddled grape, herbaceous Seedlip and non-alcoholic Campari.

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What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
The Chinotto Spritz, a balanced cocktail of Amaro Fiero and prosecco. The bitter, citrusy notes are reminiscent of Brio. $14

 

What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
The CHIN Picnic cocktail is a summery blend of tequila, amaro and elderflower, garnished with basil. $14

 

What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
Everything that goes into the Enzoroni, a zero-proof cocktail. $12

 

The space

With its open kitchen, green gingham tablecloths, exposed brick, vintage boxing magazines and framed painting of Jesus, the design seems to be a contemporary take on an old-school neighbourhood red sauce spot. Whether guests are seated at the back near the pizza oven, where line cooks roll out the dough and carefully build the pies, or at the sprawling wooden bar where the pasta cooks use their noodles, the vibe is very much full bellies and full hearts.

What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
What's on the menu at Bar Sugo, Bloordale's new pizzeria and red sauce restaurant
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