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Food & Drink

What’s on the menu at Edna and Vita, a splashy new Italian restaurant in the old Reds Wine Tavern space

Including made-to-order lasagna and an Italian take on nachos

By Erin Hershberg| Photography by Jelena Subotic
What's on the menu at Edna and Vita, a splashy new Italian restaurant in the old Reds Wine Tavern space

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Name: Edna and Vita Contact: 77 Adelaide St. W., ednavita.com, @edna_vita
Neighbourhood: Financial District
Owner: Peter Fowler (SIR Corp.) Chefs: VP of culinary development Gordon Mackie and executive chef Peter Sharp Accessibility: Fully accessible

The space that once housed long-time Financial District staple Reds Wine Tavern, which closed this past January, is now home to Edna and Vita, a two-storey, 6,500-square-foot trattoria specializing in old-school Italian cuisine with touches of modernity here and there. “The demographic of the downtown core has changed so dramatically since the pandemic, and with that, eating habits have too,” says Anesie Johnson, the former VP of marketing for Reds (and current one for Edna and Vita). “People are looking for an experience that’s less corporate, more social and casual.” When it came to choosing a concept for the reinvented space, the team turned to Gordon Mackie, vice-president of culinary development, to decide on the right fit. “We let the food take the lead and built the brand around it,” says Johnson.

Chef Gordon Mackie
Vice-president of culinary development Gordon Mackie

While the menu of sharable family-style plates is consistent across the first (Vita) and second (Edna) floors, the vibes of each space differ significantly. “We think of Edna and Vita as two different experiences,” says Johnson. “The upper floor, Edna, is meant to represent the sophisticate who enjoys an evening of conversation, many plates of food and a variety of wine and prosecco. Downstairs, Vita, is for a more lively bar crowd.”

Chef Gordon Mackie and the rest of the Edna and Vita team
And Mackie again, this time with the whole team

 

The food

The menu includes all the Italian comfort-food hits: house-made pasta, lasagna, Roman-style pizzas and old-school entrées like chicken cacciatore. Unabashedly purist plates like tagliatelle ai funghi, caesar salad and bone-in veal parmigiana are executed with attention to detail and the odd twist (Was that a pickled onion?) that doesn’t seem out of place.

The spiedini alla Romano is like an Italian take on nachos
The spiedini alla Romana is like an Italian take on nachos. Thick slices of fior di latte are squeezed and melted between crunchy, garlicky crostini, which rest on a classic beurre blanc sauce. It’s topped with a sofrito of onion, garlic, anchovies, lemon zest, capers and parsley. $19.50

 

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For the radiatore alla Genovese, house-made pasta is tossed in a sauce of fresh pesto, roasted peppers, dried tomatoes, onions and garlic
For the radiatori alla Genovese, house-made pasta is tossed in a sauce of fresh pesto, roasted peppers, dried tomatoes, onions and garlic. It’s finished with dollops of lemony whipped ricotta and fresh baby basil leaves. $21.50

 

This made-to-order lasagna is formed in a timbal and layered with noodles, house Bolognese, rich bechamel and an obscene amount of Grana Padano
This made-to-order lasagna is formed in a timbal and layered with noodles, house Bolognese, rich béchamel and an obscene amount of grana padano. It’s covered in mozzarella, fired in the oven, then plated on a pool of more Bolognese. $27

 

A 12-ounce bone-in veal chop is seasoned, pounded, Panko-crusted and fried to order
A 12-ounce bone-in veal chop is seasoned, pounded, Panko-crusted and fried to order. It’s anointed with house tomato sauce and covered in fior di latte, then given a quick roast to finish. On top: some fresh basil and grana padano. $52

 

For dessert, there’s a tasting board of classic Italian sweets, including a chocolatey espresso ganache, house-made cannoli dipped in chocolate and nuts and stuffed with sweet orange ricotta, classic tiramisu and fig-and-walnut biscotti
For dessert, there’s a tasting board of classic Italian sweets, including a chocolatey espresso ganache, house-made cannoli dipped in chocolate and nuts and stuffed with sweet orange ricotta, classic tiramisu and fig-and-walnut biscotti. $35

 

The drinks

There’s an extensive (but not overwhelming) wine list that includes plenty of bubbles as well as a list of decidedly Italian reinterpretations of classic cocktails—like a cosmopolitan that subs out Cointreau for cranberry-infused Campari.

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For the Hibiscus Bellini, the usual peach purée is given the boot for house-made hibiscus tea syrup punched up with gin. The drink is finished with a splash of prosecco, a touch of lime juice and a sprinkle of edible glitter
For the Hibiscus Bellini, the usual peach purée is given the boot for house-made hibiscus tea syrup punched up with gin. The drink is finished with a splash of prosecco, a touch of lime juice and a sprinkle of edible glitter, just because. $18

 

The Testa di Moro is the Edna and Vita's take on an old fashioned
The Testa di Moro is the bar’s take on an old fashioned. It’s a slow-sipping stirred cocktail of Lot 40 whiskey, a citrusy red wine syrup and a trio of bitters (chocolate, orange, Angostura). The garnish: a smoking piece of lavender. $18

 

A bartender at Edna and Vita holds out a Rose and Raspberry Bee’s Knees cocktail
For the Rose and Raspberry Bee’s Knees, the classic cocktail of gin, honey and lemon juice is Barbie-fied with a blend of Dillon’s rose gin, muddled raspberries and ginger bitters

 

For the Rose and Raspberry Bee’s Knees, the classic cocktail of gin, honey and lemon juice is Barbie-fied with a blend of Dillon’s rose gin, muddled raspberries and ginger bitters
A bright-pink brand is digitally stamped on top. $18

 

The Vanilla Espresso Martini is a blend of vodka, vanilla syrup, Kahlua and espresso
The Vanilla Espresso Martini is a blend of vodka, vanilla syrup, Kahlúa and espresso. The drink is shaken with a vegan foamer, strained into a martini glass and stamped with the bar’s logo. $18

 

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Pop the bubble of the Out of Office to sip a balanced blend of Appleton rum, Campari, orgeat syrup, hibiscus tea and lime
Pop the bubble of the Out of Office to sip a balanced blend of Appleton rum, Campari, orgeat syrup, hibiscus tea and lime. $18

 

The Out of Office cocktail at Edna and Vita
Here it is post-pop

 

The Citrus Blossom Lemonade is a zero-proof cocktail made with Fever Tree Sicilian lemonade, house-made grapefruit and elderflower syrups, and a splash of Fever Tree club soda.
The Citrus Blossom Lemonade is a zero-proof cocktail made with Fever-Tree Sicilian lemonade, house-made grapefruit and elderflower syrups, and a splash of Fever-Tree club soda. A slice of lemon and a sprig of lavender (not smoking this time) serve as garnish. $8.50

 

A bartender at Edna and Vita mixes up a cocktail
The space

Each floor is designed with Italian-inspired elements—mosaic tiling, a geometric terracotta wall installation and a spiral staircase with built-in wine storage. Colourful photos of Italian beach scenes and framed vintage magazine covers of Italian icons (Sophia Loren, Frank Sinatra) line the walls.

Large circular tables in Edna and Vita's dining room, which is decorated with posters of Italian beach scenes
Blown-up photos of Italian beach scenes decorate the walls at Edna and Vita
Pop-art paintings of famous Italians line the walls at Edna and Vita
Framed magazine covers featuring Italian stars line the walls of Edna and Vita's dining room
A wall of terracotta mosaic tiles in the dining room of Edna and Vita, an Italian restaurant in Toronto
A sign with the letters E and V at Edna and Vita, an Italian restaurant

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