“Would you like to try a pizza?” asks chef Mark McEwan as he stands in front of the wood-burning oven at his newest restaurant, Fabbrica, located in the suburban Shops at Don Mills. “It’ll only take 90 seconds, and we can eat it at the bar.” Never mind that he’s expecting dozens of guests for a preview dinner or that he also has to head downtown in an hour or two to do his second book signing this week; McEwan sits down and shares a salsiccia pizza (lamb sausage, caramelized fennel, mozzarella) with us like it was a lazy Sunday afternoon.
McEwan is used to having a full plate. Last month, for example, he released his first cookbook, finished filming the first season of Top Chef Canada (it’s set to air in the spring), oversaw a TIFF party for the cast of The Town, promoted a celebrity charity cook-off, kept an eye on his year-old grocery store (McEwan), watched over three of the city’s top restaurants and prepared for the opening of his fourth.
Fabbrica’s concept: traditional Italian—the menu has the requisite antipasti, primi and secondi headings—with a push on Neapolitan pizzas. Wood-burning brick oven brought over from Naples? Check. Roma tomatoes from the San Marzano valley? Check. Hand-milled flour imported from the home country? Check. Executive chef Rob LeClair sent to New York to train under the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani? Done and done.
“Simple Italian is always the hardest to make because it’s either perfect or it’s not,” says McEwan whose culinary background is French. “I like regional food rather than big tasting menus. Just give me three things on a plate, not eight.”
The space was designed by Giannone Petricone Associates, which has made urban-rustic Italian restaurants its bread and butter: Terroni, Osteria Ciceri e Tria, Il Fornello on Church. It’s a breezy, sun-drenched piazza in the front and a dimly lit setting with geometric motifs in the back. Bearing in mind the restaurant’s name, which means “factory” in Italian, elements of industrial design are evident in the oven’s metal and bolt façade, a decorative sewer grate on the ground and wallpaper that looks like an abstract blueprint.
There’s also a small curing room where salumi hang from the ceiling and the walls are lined with jars of pickled vegetables. Like McEwan’s neighbouring food store, Fabbrica aims to bring quality cuisine to residents north of Bloor where big box restos currently reign. “There’s a huge market up here, and it’s an untapped market. You have a lot of young professionals moving into these neighbourhoods, and so far most of the big chains own the north end of the city.”
There are, however, limits to his expansion plan. He’s still looking—but is in no hurry—to open a second grocery store downtown. He wants to find the perfect 12,000 square feet of space. McEwan also adds that he turned down an offer to open a restaurant in Las Vegas. But he then continues to say he’s already working on a second cookbook.
“Who knows. Maybe one day I’ll finally spend a year not doing anything.”
Fabbrica, 49 Karl Fraser Rd. (at Shops at Don Mills), 416-391-0307.
33 thoughts on “Introducing: Fabbrica. Take a tour of Mark McEwan’s new Italian restaurant”
Looks beautiful and wonderful can’t wait to indulge, reminds me of la fratelli buffula in Italy.
what at waste of trees for these ovens
where is this fratelli buffalo in italy?
Another PIZZA Joint? whatever !
Fratelli Buffula there are a few in Italy, they have about 8 locations world wide from Miami to Dubai then in Italy alone maybe 25+ locations across the country. They have great food and my fave while I was living there smoked Mozzerella and rapini with lots of garlic.
Bonjour, je vais passer quelques jours au Canada et j’aimerai manger au restaurant de Mark. Je suis toutes les émissions sur cuisine tv et j’aimerai goûter à sa cuisine. Comment puis je faire pour réserver une table?
Oh I hope they decide to deliver!!!!
J’ai remarqué un lien sur leur site (www.fabbrica.ca) pour faire les réservations sur http://www.opentable.com. Si vous préférez, vous pourriez les téléphoner(416.391.0307).
Je pense que vous pourriez faire les réservations pour les autres restaurants de Mark (North44, etc) sur opentable aussi. Bon appétit!
Horrible food. Not worth the money, very expensive for what it’s worth. Dishes are very unsual, fried pigs tails with polenta, veal brains, headcheese, rabbit, quail, etc. no chicken on the menu and if you want beef you have to pay $75 for a porterhouse steak(32oz) to split with another person. What if the other person doesn’t want or eat beef? Keep in mind, for the main meals are all a la carte, avg $15 per dish. Pizza’s are so, so bad, i can’t believe they cannot make a normal pizza, pizza dough, very salty, sauce is awfully and stingy on the toppings, especially cheese. This is not Italian by any standards. My advice, be very careful, you may be very disappointed.
Rob LeClair should have gone to naples to train, not new york, to make pizza, just looking at the pizza tells you they don’t know what they are doing
The point of opening a restaurant is to NOT have the same dishes as every other restaurant…I don’t need to see Chicken on a menu, I can cook that at home….
Trust me, the usual dishes found in the typical North American ‘Italian’ restaurant are FAR from authentic….
Rose’ sauce with everything, anyone ? Caesar Salad ?( nothing to do with the Emperor or Italy aside from the fact that there are ( or should be )anchovies in there….
Re Pizza : It is very hard to replicate true ‘Pizza Napoletana’…( you can get the right flour, yeast and some of the ingredients but a huge factor like the water, is vital, it is VERY different here in N America )
Hats off to Mr McEwan for the vision and taking the plunge……….
Italian food is very simple, yet very different and there are many styles of Italian cuisine. If you go to any other “Italian” restaurant in Canada,you will see veal parmigiana, or lasagna on the menu. Mark McEwan, is not one to follow these chains of restaurants by having these repeated dishes on his menu. If you have ever been to Italy, you would understand how something so simple can taste so good. Pizza from Napoli is very hard to replicate. Many of you do not understand the art of making a pizza because you yourselves are not chefs. “Pizza Pizza” is “normal pizza” to us, which almost all of us are used to, and people do not realize how much calories those pizza’s have in them. Compared to Mark McEwan’s new restaurant, who makes pizzas that are simple and delightful, all ingredients made from scratch. Mark McEwan opens fine dining restaurants not fast food restaurants, so of course on the menu there will be dishes people have never seen before. The idea is in hope that people will widen there palates and be adventurous to try something they haven’t before. The food is expensive because everything Fabbrica makes is from scratch, and nothing is shipped from a factory already pre-made ready to heat up. You pay for quantity and you get quality.
I am Italian,grew up on real Italian food, traveled and ate in Italy for years, this is CRAP…
Does Mark McEwan pay ppl to lick his *****, I lived in Italy, worked in Italy(Kitchen) worked with Michlein starred Chefs. I worked with the mothers of friends I made to learn hand crafted Italian food, I lived on a farm for a month to feel what Campagna really meant. I think a lot more ppl should go into the back of many kitchens thru out the city and I think they would be at shock who really used pre made shit, to in house made foods.
Giovanni said it right you can replicate bc of reasons being we don’t have what Italy has. IE water is so important for making a lot of everything in Italy speak to a Napoletano tell him that in Bologna they make better espresso then they do, watch what happens….
If Fabrica wants to imitate or copy a true Napolitana Pizza, they are very close, the taste and ingredients are there, but the Pizza needs to be cooked.
It’s Frabrica, with one b, as in a place where you’d expect to find yardgoods being sold. Shame on you!
McEwan spells it with two Bs:
I thought the food was wonderful! I had the Pappardelle with crab, soft poached egg which was very light considering it was made in a cream sauce.
you guys are all haters, everything he touches turns to gold. This neighbourhood deserves fine dining and good food, thanks Mark!
I went years ago when my hubby and I were just building our life to North 44 for my birthday. Mark came out to visit a guest who was sitting next to us, some singers who btw I had NO CLUE WHO THEY WERE. They asked who we were, right in front of us, and Mark said, nobody. That was interesting from a boy from Buffalo in my town that I was born in…now he’s in my neighbourhood & I live on one of the best tablelands of Toronto … will I eat there, who knows. Am I nobody? Yup, but living a life AMAZING!!! Be careful who you insult, it has a way of biting you in the butt later on in life.
I agree that this Don Mills deserves fine dining and kudos to Mark for opening a restaurant in the neighbourhood. This is where my praise ends.
I shop at Mcewans 3-4 times a week purchasing a variety of pre-made gourmet products. However, my Fabbrica experience was less than gourmet. I appreciate the Napoletana style of pizza but this was nowhere close to being authentic. The flavours were sub-par at best. The sauce lacked any real favour and the toppings where next to non-existent. The only good thing I can say about the pizza was that the cheese was delicious. Perhaps this is not the norm but when the restaurant fails to answer customer inquiries coupled with an almost $30 price tag that is when I say this restaurant is not worth a second shot.
To all those people that critisize all the restaurants around town, just stop and think that cooking for 200 people is a little different than cooking for 5-6 people. A chef will always try to recreate a dish or flavour of a certain country but nevertheless sometimes fall short, due to ingredients (ie water from Italy). So we should try to support those that are willing to take the oppurtunity to embrace and support those that are trying, like Mark to bring us something unique and different. Question?? How many Greek, Middle Eastern and Chinese places are trying to cook authentic food from their country??? Look at all these restaurants, you think what they eat in China is what we eat here???? So before we open our mouthes, just stop and enjoy the experience, good, bad or ugly. Oh and by the way for the person that worked in Italy and lived on a farm (in Campagna) if you are that good why don’t you open a restaurant like Fabbrica’s and show us what real Italian food is like!!!! The person who taught Rob in New York is one of the Top Pizza restaurants in North America and was trained in Naples Italy by a Master Neopolitan Pizzaiolo.
On October 29/10 I had dinner at Fabbrica. I must say that I love Mark McEwan’s restaurants, but I was VERY disappointed with Fabbrica. Our waiter’s knowledge of the menu was lacking. We had the buffalo mozzarella salad which was very good. However, my “hot” Capicollo pizza was a TREMENDOUS DISAPPOINTMENT!!! It was lacking in flavour and the capicollo was definitely not “hot”. My pizza experience at Mangia & Bevi was supremely better. My friend had the 10oz striploin which was ok, but not great. For dessert, we had the zeppole (warm doughnuts with cinnamon sugar)which was ok. It was nice and light and not too sweet. Since I love McEwan’s other restaurants, I will give Fabbrica another chance. Next time, I’ll have a pasta dish and I hope I’m not disappointed.
Served by high school kids. Food was terrible, felt like I was in Zellers cafeteria. McEwan blows it again
to The entertainer – when Mark is advertising he is making authentic Neopolitan pizza you can not come up with excuses “the water is different ” hey use bottled water from Italy, there are places that do this…also you know what you are getting at Chinese restaurants – they are not claiming they are authentic….he has created a fast food italian restaurant, cooking for 200 does not excuse the bad food, the food you get is reflected in the price you pay for cooking staff labour….decisions are here are based on the bottomline … go to Vegas….
I really had no expectations before dining at Fabbrica but, to say that it was disappointing is kind. I found the food (salad and breaded veal) without taste and the main course (the veal) bare – no vegetables or pasta, only tomato sauce; a large portion but all alone by itself. My friend had pizza that left a lot to be desired; pizza from Pizza Nova is more tasty. A lover of bread, it wasn’t even good enough to interest me in a second “slice”.
Like I said, there were no expectations but I would have expected more from Mark McEwan. Too bad.
The room was attractive – the small, front room – but the entire experience left me knowing this is a “one timer”.
Not worth it. Food was not bad but I left the restaurant feeling hungry. Ordered one of the pasta entrees and when it arrived at my table it looked like an appetizer or side dish. My wife and I had two entrees, water and dessert. Bill came out to be $70 w/tax and tip. Won’t be going back.
Please have a website ready when you open, even if its just a teaser page! I’d love to see the menu :)
A truly disappointing experience overall. I do not have anything nice to say about the food or the service. A restaurant is never just about the food. The service always completes the entire experience and unfortunately Fabbrica lacks experience and finesse in that department. The rudeness of the staff left me and my friend speechless. This restaurant is far from being a decent establishment. I would not recommend it. There are better restaurants in Toronto. Thank God.
I just had, quite possibly, the most mediocre lunch ever today. The salad was insipid and overpriced. The service was amateurish. When a restaurant charges high-end prices, the customer expects high-end service and decent food.
Yes, it’s different to cook for 200+ people and run a restaurant vs. being a home cook. However, if you decide to run a restaurant at least be able to deliver.
Service: Horrible. Terrible. Extremely rude!
Food: ok but expensive.
We have given them 3 chances and have been disappointed on all three occasions!
Really good food and great service.
Not so crazy about the decor…but it’s really moot as food makes up for it.
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