What’s on the menu at Piccolo Piano, chef Victor Barry’s new pizzeria and snack bar
Name: Piccolo Piano
Contact: 89 Harbord St., 647-341-3100, @piccolopianopizzeria
Neighbourhood: Harbord Village
Owners: Victor Barry (Piano Piano), Nikki Leigh McKean and Brendan Piunno
Chefs: Executive chef Victor Barry and chef de cuisine Francis Nitoral (Piano Piano)
Previously: Café Cancan
Seating: 30 inside; patio next year.
Covid-19 safety measures: Frequent sanitization, hand sanitizer at entrance.
Accessibility: A short flight of stairs up to the entrance; flight of stairs down to basement washrooms.
A rotating selection of 10-inch, wood-fired pizzas and shareable snacks. Barry describes his newest restaurant concept as “P.T. Barnum driving a Ferrari eating a pizza on his way to the Moulin Rouge.” (Whatever that means.) The flavourful food might be Italian-influenced but is not meant to be traditional. Case in point: the high-hydration pizza dough he’s developed. (Barry’s obsession with dough began when he got a job working at a pizzeria when he was just 11.)
While Barry uses 100-percent naturally leavened sourdough like he does for Piano Piano’s pies, the pizza at Piccolo Piano is cooked in a wood-fired oven at a blistering 1000-degrees Fahrenheit (versus Piano Piano’s oven, which runs at just 750). “The key difference that temperature makes is in the texture of the crust,” Barry explains of the one-minute cooking process. “It’s very soft, light and slightly chewy. It cooks so fast, it doesn’t get crunchy or crispy at all—and that’s exactly what I’m going for.”
A tight list of food-friendly wines by the glass or bottle, a couple beers and four cocktails in two sizes. “It’s supposed to be fun, cheeky and straight up what it is,” Barry says of the simple cocktail list. Besides a martini and negroni, there’s a Manhattan and a spritz.
The room is long way from its past life as Café Cancan. Anything that can be red is red, with a bright neon (also red) sign that proclaims “Pizza is life” as the focal point. Barry says the casual, walk-in friendly restaurant is meant to be a space where you can have anything from a couple of snacks to three-courses with drinks and be out in less than an hour and a half (but you can also linger all night, if that’s what you wish).