Introducing: Briscola, Cinq 01’s rustic Italian successor

Introducing: Briscola, Cinq 01’s rustic Italian successor

Inside Briscola Trattoria (Image: Gizelle Lau)

Briscola, the new rustic Italian restaurant from Ink Entertainment’s Charles Khabouth and Amber’s Toufik Sarwa, opened last Friday to the packed crowds one would expect from a collaboration between the two nightlife vets. After taking over the space of Sarwa’s short-lived Cinq 01 restaurant, Briscola apparently saw visits from Ben Mulroney and Galen Weston Jr. on its first weekend.

The menu at Briscola is divided up into Antipasti, Primi Piatti, Pizze and Secondi Piatti. Chef Sean Reeve (formerly of Via Allegro) aims to create traditional Italian dishes that let ingredients shine, but with modern twists. For starters, there are fried olives ($6), tuna carpaccio ($14) and deep-fried artichokes ($8). Primi dishes include modern takes on eggplant parmigiana ($11) and spaghetti pomodoro ($10/$16). Pizzas come in seven styles, including a classic Neapolitan-style margherita ($12), made in the restaurant’s stone-bottom oven in the pizza kitchen next to the bar. Mains range from $21–24, with dishes like osso buco ($21) and seared branzino ($24).

Cinq 01’s loungey interior was refreshed by Commute Home (of Nyood and Colborne Lane) to create a rustic yet whimsical environment. At the front of the restaurant, one wall shows off a flat, life-sized, candy apple–red Citroën DS sculpture, modelled after the Italian-designed car from the 1950s. Custom wire-framed chandeliers hang over lounge tables at the front—perfect for playing briscola, the Italian card game after which the restaurant is named—as well as in the back, over plush white booths. A long communal table made of Canadian walnut with cushioned benches offers additional family-style seating.

Meanwhile, Khabouth’s Ink Entertainment is already busy with its next project. Look for La Société, a new bistro, to open in Dynasty’s old space in the Colonnade on Bloor in June, and a new resto-lounge project along King Street West sometime afterward.

Briscola, 501 College St., 416-964-1555,