What’s on the menu at Lardo, Little Italy’s new spot for Italian groceries, sandwiches and wine

What’s on the menu at Lardo, Little Italy’s new spot for Italian groceries, sandwiches and wine

And coming soon: dinner service

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Name: Lardo
Contact: 970 College St., lardo.ca, @lardo_carnevino
Neighbourhood: Little Italy
Owners: Gianpaolo “GP” Testa, Tenma Testa
Accessibility: Fully accessible
 
GP Testa isn’t a chef, but he’s been chef-adjacent for a long time, working the bar at spots like Campagnolo, Bestellen and La Société (RIP) before trying his hand at the trades. That move was pre-pandemic, but the siren song of the industry called GP back, and he started working private events at the tail end of 2021. Around then, he had a fortuitous coffee date with chef Rob Rossi, who mentioned that the space next door to Giuletta was going up for rent.

On a whim, he signed the lease a day before leaving for a brief Italian sojourn. When in Rome, he did as the Romans do and wandered into a shop brimming with cheese, salumi and wine—and a concept began to take shape. The result, a few iterations later, is Lardo: a sandwich shop, deli and soon-to-be wine bar rolled into one.

Related: Cucina Mauro, a cozy Italian lunch counter tucked away in a North York industrial plaza

With the rising cost of, well, everything, genre-straddling spots are an increasingly popular option—with multiple revenue streams and one-stop-shop convenience, it’s a good deal for proprietor and customer alike. “It’s everything you want to get yourself in the mood to go home and cook, and much of what you need to do so,” says Tenma, GP’s partner in business and in life.

Tenma (left) and GP Testa
The food

Right now, Lardo’s focus is on daytime offerings, but the menu will soon expand to include shareable dinner plates. The plan is to transition into a full-fledged wine bar in the evenings. “This space will transform as we grow into ourselves,” says GP. The current daytime menu mostly consists of a rotating selection of simple, beautifully executed sandwiches, like one piled with mortadella, endive, plenty of Piave cheese and house-made giardiniera on a fluffy Portuguese bun. (Italian purists may balk at the bread choice, but GP heartily defends its honour, calling it an ideal sandwich bread.) On the retail side, there’s a small selection of quality meats—including Wagyu hot dogs—as well as cheeses and pantry staples, like olives and sauces.

GP slicing mortadella in the rear production area

 

And cutting the rind off a fresh block of Piave cheese, destined for a mortadella sandwich. Think parmesan, but more tender and easier to eat in greater quantities

 

Spreading some house-made giardiniera of pickled celery, carrot and onion on a mortadella sandwich. It’s based on a Testa family recipe

 

A gloriously simple mortadella sandwich—just a pile of thinly shaved meat, many slices of Piave cheese, some endive for crunch and giardiniera. $16

 

This is the prosciutto crudo sandwich, loaded with 24-month-aged prosciutto, stretchy stracciatella cheese and arugula dressed with a touch of good olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. $16

 

A stack of classic caprese sandwiches, stuffed with fior di latte, firm but juicy Kumato tomatoes, house-made pesto and basil. Anyone who normally avoids pesto because of a nut allergy is in luck—GP is also allergic to nuts, so he leaves them out of his version. $19

 

Warm, house-marinated olives with orange, lemon and fennel. $9

 

Here we have a salad of arugula, radicchio, endive and shaved parmesan. $15

 

A few desserts are brought in from Rustic Bakery: tiramisu in an edible chocolate cup ($4.50), cream-filled sfogliatelle ($4) and classic ricotta-filled cannoli ($3)

 

A selection of pantry staples for a solid pasta night, including a tremendously delicious white truffle oil

 

Eggs from a farm near Caledon so small that it doesn’t even have a name. How charming are all the different sizes?

 

Lardo stocks a tight rotating selection of butcher favourites. The Wagyu dogs are a mainstay, as are burgers made from aged brisket, aged striploin and chuck
The drinks

Robust and full-bodied Trucillo Grand Bar coffee underpins the coffee menu—think espresso, cappuccino and other such classic offerings. There’s (mostly Italian) wine, available by the glass and the bottle, and a few solid cocktails, including a delightful sbagliato, last year’s trendiest cocktail. There’s also Brio (which is actually made in Toronto), a few Italian beers, and specialty liquor and canned spritzes from local brands like Cicchetto (which is also made in Toronto) and PEC’s Wilda.

A perfect cappuccino made with Trucillo Grand Bar beans. $5

 

A few of the whites currently on offer

 

And the reds, including some heavy-hitting barolos

 

In English, the word Sbagliato translates to something like “wrong” or “mistake.” So, essentially, a negroni sbagliato is a riff on a negroni made with red vermouth, Campari, and prosecco (instead of gin). $13

 

This is a classic Aperol spritz, made a little more special with the inclusion of Barone Ciani Bassetti Prosecco Brut, a super-dry bottle made with 100-percent glera grapes, an indigenous varietal from Italy’s Veneto region. (A lot of prosecco on the shelves these days is made with a blend of leftover grapes and a bunch of sugar.) $13

 

A stack of specialty tipples, including artisanal limoncello from Toronto’s own Cicchetto and low-ABV spritzers from PEC’s Wilda
The space

Lardo consists of a neat sun-drenched storefront with a few counter seats, opening into a dining area along a wall of exposed brick. The plan is to bring in harvest-table seating as the dinner menu rolls out. In the back, there’s a production area complete with a hefty butcher block and a commercial meat slicer. The finishings are all earth tones, wood and granite—clean, unassuming choices that affirm the menu’s ethos of uncomplicated quality.