Just opened: Malena, by the restaurateurs who brought L’Unità to Yorkville

Just opened: Malena, by the restaurateurs who brought L’Unità to Yorkville

(Image: Karon Liu)

Yorkville’s own little Little Italy—that block of Avenue Road where Sotto Sotto and L’Unità have stood these past few years—just got an added taste of the home country. Malena opened last week, setting itself apart from its neighbours with a focus on seafood from the Ionian Sea. “We believe that the more restaurants the better. The more people it brings in the better,” says co-owner David Minicucci, who is also a co-owner of L’Unità. “They might come here one night, see Sotto Sotto next door and decide to go there next time. We’re all friends here.”

New menus at such places as Brassaii, Parts and Labour and Centro are emphasizing that dinner can be had for $20, but most mains on Malena’s card are around $25 ($24 for handmade agnolotti, $26 for grilled quails). In the case of Malena, there are two key reasons for the slight uptick: one, prices depend on the cost of fresh seafood, brought in every day from five different suppliers; and two, it’s in Yorkville. L’Unità’s Doug Neigel moved next door to take over the kitchen, meaning everyone back at the original location received a mini-promotion.

As for the space, Minicucci says the building underwent a two-year restoration after dim sum spot Pink Pearl closed in 2007. The house’s façade now looks like it did when it was built in 1892; the dark woods and dozens of tea lights on the tables create a comfortable, intimate atmosphere. Management is also in the midst of putting the final touches on the second floor, to expand the number of tables.

Malena, 120 Avenue Rd., 416-964-0606, malena120.ca.