What’s on the menu at Piano Piano’s whimsically wacky new St. Lawrence location
Including pizza, pasta and a full-size carousel horse
Name: Piano Piano
Contact info: 55 Colborne St., 416-216-0295, pianopianotherestaurant.com, @pianopianotherestaurant
Neighbourhood: St. Lawrence
Previously: The Joint
Owners: Victor Barry, Nikki Leigh McKean and Brendan Piunno
Chefs: Victor Barry and executive chef Tristan Duranleau
Accessibility: Not fully accessible
The team behind Piano Piano is now serving up the hearty and gently high-falutin’ Italian food they’re known for to the downtown crowd. While the pandemic may have thwarted many would-be restaurateurs’ dreams, partners Victor Barry, Nikki Leigh McKean and Brendan Piunno took advantage of the opportunities that Covid offered—one of which was relatively affordable real estate in the city’s financial district—and plowed ahead.
The menu remains consistent with the brand’s three other locations, but the space is anything but formulaic. Draped in velvet and adorned with Victorian florals, mirrors and marble, the design is a strangely pleasing melange of granny’s apartment, Twin Peaks and Studio 54.
The menu comprises shareable Italian plates and pizzas—all influenced by Barry’s childhood in his uncle’s pizzeria, his work in fancier kitchens and, more recently, time spent cooking with his family. Elevated takes on Nonna’s classics include caesar salad with baby gem lettuce, white anchovy and house-made croutons; plates of prosciutto crudo covered with caramelized grapes and drizzled with aged balsamic; and near-cartoonish portions of veal parm with spicy soppressata.
Mostly Italian wines and cocktails support the cozy yet eccentric sit-back-and-relax vibe that is crucial to the Piano Piano brand. Bottles of wine (including house-label Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Cabernet-Merlot from Niagara’s Tawse winery) range in price from $59 to $129. The cocktail card lists classic choices, including a negroni finished with a sprig of fresh rosemary, and some speciality ones, like Nonna’s Garden, a muddled bouquet of cucumber, lime, Amaro Lucano, basil-infused tequila and Chartreuse.
While the ground-level dining area is a rich tapestry of velvet fabrics, botanical patterns, streaky marble and fringe, the lower-level bar is where things get wild. Equal parts carnival, opium den and discotheque in design, the space features zany details—think peacock feathers, leopard prints, mirrors, chains, dinosaurs and a full-size carousel horse—to entice the Bay Street crowd to loosen up those neckties and live a little.