What’s on the menu at Bottega Volo, Bar Volo’s one-stop shop inside the Royal Theatre—now with sandwiches, cocktails and a patio

What’s on the menu at Bottega Volo, Bar Volo’s one-stop shop inside the Royal Theatre—now with sandwiches, cocktails and a patio

Best theatre concession stand ever

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Name: Bottega Volo
Contact: 608 College St., bottegavolo.com, @bottegavolo
Neighbourhood: Little Italy
Owners: Julian and Tomas Morana
Chef: Clark Brewerton
Thanks to the introduction of bottle shops a few years back, Toronto is now an excellent city for buying wine—and beer, and spirits, and tinned fish, and all of the above if you happen to wander into Bottega Volo, the Bar Volo camp’s new(ish) market and very new patio.

The custom signage is by Toronto sign maker Rcade

Consider the inside a candy store for connoisseurs. There are fridges full of beers, featuring cans from around the country and bottles of Volo’s own brews. Other fridges are stocked with natural, biodynamic and small-producer wines, including bottles from Foradori, Eric Wareheim and Claus Preisinger. Others still are stuffed with pasta from Baldassarre, frozen pizzas from Mattachioni, Italian provisions from Alimentari, and trout roe, cheese, sausages, fancy butters and other snazzy stuff imported from around the world. Since the space is inside the Royal Theatre, there’s also a full selection of fancy candies, snacks and drinks to enjoy with a show.

Co-owner Julian Morana on the new streetside patio

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The food

Morana and team were inspired by la cucina povera (the poor man’s kitchen), so the menu is small and tight, with a focus on simple, unfussy Italian and Spanish snacks. There are burrata salads, pizzas, fish tins served with good bread for dipping and excellent paninis. Most ingredients are pulled from the shelves of the Bottega: pop-the-top conservas, boquerones draped over toast, and thin slices of Italian prosciutto and mortadella sandwiched between buns. Can’t stay? Pick up ingredients to go from the bottega for an at-home DIY affair.

Anchovy toast will rotate with the season, but right now it’s made with Sicily-imported peaches, Cantabrian anchovies, stracciatella and a whole lotta chives. $12


The burrata will also rotate based on the team’s whims. Morana tends to shop in his own store, so this version sits on top of chargrilled artichoke hearts, basil and olive oil. On top: a heaping spoonful of trout roe. $19


Morana’s answer to Toronto’s influx of hoagie shops: sesame sourdough stuffed with burrata, prosciutto di Parma, soppressata, pesto, sun-dried tomato paste and basil. $16


This ain’t your deli mortadella. Morana, who is obsessed with the pistachio flecks within, imports it from Italy. Thin slices of it are piled high and stuffed between Forno Cultura’s bianca focaccia along with artichoke cream, a crumble of pistachios (Sicilian, naturally) and stracciatella. $16


Ottawa’s Pinsa Romana Canada supplies Bottega Volo’s pinsa, a light-as-air Roman-style pizza dough. You can taste the difference the fuss makes—the dough is crunchy, fluffy and flavourful. This one, the Verde, is topped with pesto, basil and a trio of cheeses (mozzarella, fior di latte, stracciatella). $16


A zhuzhed-up tin of preserved mussels are served with Forna Cultura bread for dipping. $17


Fridges are stocked with pantry and charcuterie essentials


Take this fridge, for example


Unique provisions include Matty Matheson’s line of sauces and a spicy olive oil from New York’s Mission Chinese


For all your accoutrement needs


A selection of Morana’s favourite things: a lager from Willibald, Sprite-flavoured Tic Tacs, gummy burgers, some of the best olives he’s ever had, churro-flavoured Kit Kats, non-alcoholic Fin Soda cocktails and a Hershey’s cookie candle. In the centre: conservas from Güeyu Mar, a seafood restaurant in Spain. These razor clams, mussels, tuna or sardines are hand-fished and cooked over a live fire before they’re canned in Spanish olive oil and sent off to hungry snackers. In the background: Faccia Brutto, trendy a Brooklyn-made fernet
The drinks

Much like the food menu, the drink list takes a deep dive through the shelves. Bottega Volo is stocked with an army of Italian and Spanish vermouths and aperitivi, and the menu spotlights a rotating selection, either served on the rocks or in a spritz.

If you’re drawing straws over which fernet to get, the patio menu is designed to help drinkers pick their poison. Vermouths and aperitivi are listed by name—including a vermouth from the foot of Mount Etna volcano or a glittering and bitter aperitivo from Piedmonte. Order off the menu and it will be served on ice with an orange slice and a speared olive. Everything can be made into a spritz for an extra $5.

The wine selection rotates, but guests can expect to find bottles like Las Jaras (comedian Eric Wareheim’s high-fi partnership with winemaker Joel Burt), collaborations with Rosewood and Frauenpower by Vin LaGamba, and an electric red Lambrusco from Rheinhessen, which Morana jokes has a Cherry Coke energy to it


Volo also sells its own beer in cans and bottles, including a hazy pale ale and this Italian pilsner


A few ounces of Poli Airone Rosso Aperitivo, a neon-red Venetian aperitivo, is given the spritz treatment with prosecco and garnished with a skewered orange slice and olive. $14


Casa Mariol Negre vermouth is equally quenching on the rocks. It’s made in Spain from a 100-year-old solera system, in which new batches are added to old for depth, complexity and a great origin story. $10


The martini is made for purists—stirred, gin-forward, a little dirty, and served in a Nick and Nora glass. $16


Any one of these would make for a good spritz. Fall for a vermouth on the patio? Swing back into the shop to bring a bottle of it home


Of course, there’s plenty of beer for sale


Including some of Bar Volo’s own


As well as wine and cider


And even more wine


Morana is something of a sweets savant, so there’s a solid selection of sodas and candies he’s imported from around the world. In this fridge, there’s Montreal-made Zamalek hibiscus juice and Sicilian aranciata or limonata for the more refined palates. For the sillier sippers, there are Chupa Chups and Pokémon sodas
The space

Inside is the concession stand of any beer, wine or snack lover’s dreams. Outside, there’s now a full patio, complete with cute café tables and beer garden set-ups. “This was our third year doing CaféTO, and we’ve always been firm advocates for street patios,” says co-owner Julian Morana. This year, it was time for a more permanent arrangement. “A lot of our travel experience comes from Europe, and we love eating Italian food on a busy sidewalk. We wanted to channel that.”

So they built out the patio to have the air of a European bodega. Stop in for lunch (Bottega Volo opens at noon), stock up on gourmet pantry goods (an easy feat) or grab a spritz with a friend while you wait for your dinner reso.