Bar Volo is back. Here are seven things you need to know
When Bar Volo was evicted in 2016 to make way for a yet another condo, craft beer lovers in the city cried sudsy tears. But the spot that had defined Toronto’s beer scene—and filled a gap on a particularly dull stretch of Yonge Street—promised it would return. Three years later, Ralph Morana and his sons, Julian and Tomas, have made good on that promise. The new Bar Volo officially opens October 4 at 17 St. Nicholas St., less than 200 metres from the original location. The new spot marks a return to their roots and the start of a new chapter. The Moranas opened Little Italy’s Birreria Volo in 2016 as their specialty beer hall, but the new Bar Volo isn’t a one-trick pony. Here’s what you need to know as Volo returns.
1. There’s more wine now
Before the O.G. Bar Volo became a major beer destination with just a couple of wine options on tap, the Moranas had a larger wine menu. But the new Bar Volo brings more wine to the table with 10 varieties offered by the glass, including a number of imported reds, whites, pinks and oranges that have yet to be sold in Ontario.
2. The menu will consist of “unfussy southern Italian food”
The Moranas are finalizing the food menu, but Julian says it will be small and always changing. “One week we’ll have meatballs, eggplant parmigiana, and the next week it will be something different.” The menu may include small plates like mixed olives and daily cheeses, preserves (sardines in oil, mussels in marinade) and a variety of sandwiches and pizzas. But the Moranas have no intentions of making Bar Volo a restaurant, so don’t go making a dinner reservation.
3. It’s cask ale central
Cask ales (unfiltered and unpasteurized beer) were a big focus at the original location, and the Moranas hope to revive the cask beer scene in Toronto with the new Bar Volo. They will be making several cask-focused beers at the new spot and serving varieties made just for them by some industry friends. (In related news, the 15th anniversary of their Cask Days festival starts October 18 at Evergreen Brick Works.)
4. Next up: Coffee and a Volo merch shop
As the Volo brand expands beyond beer, the Moranas plan to start a coffee program in the spring and they’re also going to open a small retail store attached to the bar called Bottega Volo. They’ll sell a variety of to-go items, including beer, Sicilian preserves, meats, oils, cheese and canned fish. “It will be like our little Italian grocery store,” says Julian.
5. There’s no patio—yet
The original Bar Volo boasted a 60-seat patio that was perfect for people-watching. The new location fits 100 inside between two main rooms, but there’s no patio space—yet. The Moranas hope they’ll be able to fashion a small outdoor patio with standing room or stools by next summer.
6. It’s made with a bunch of salvaged stuff
The dimly lit room harkens back to the first Volo, and die-hards may even notice some relics of the past, including some tables, chairs and light fixtures. But much of the interior is entirely new, or at least newly salvaged. The Moranas relished in the blank slate that was the new space and did the interiors themselves. “It’s sort of unexplainable how all of this came together,” says Tomas. The bar is made out of two 18th-century Egyptian doors. One wall of wood panelling was acquired from a church in Hamilton. The tin ceiling near the front door is from an old barn. And the cabinetry near the bar is from a Hamilton hospital.
7. Birreria slowed down the search for Volo 2.0
When the original spot shut its doors, the three Moranas announced they would be reopening in an old house at Church and Dundonald, but they ended up backing out of that lease, and their search for an alternate site slowed with the success of Birreria Volo. They considered looking elsewhere, but decided to stay closer to their roots. “We’ve been on Yonge Street for 30 years,” says Ralph, who opened Bar Volo in 1988.