What’s on the Menu at Via Allegro Ristorante, an Etobicoke staple for Italian food with a new Claudio Aprile–designed menu
And a wine cellar 70,000 bottles deep
Name: Via Allegro Ristorante
Contact: 1750 The Queensway, 416-622-6677, viaallegro-ristorante.ca, @viaallegroristorante
Previously: Ruben and Wong Chinese Buffet
Owners: Mohamad Fakih
Chef: Marco Zandona
Accessibility: Fully accessible
Via Allegro Ristorante became a go-to for Etobicoke’s Italian community not long after it opened back in 1996. Its big pizzas, heaping plates of pastas, 70,000-bottle wine collection and 200-person capacity made it a popular gathering ground for big groups celebrating baptisms, birthdays, engagements and weddings. But its history and loyal customers couldn’t completely shield the restaurant from a pandemic-induced slowdown, and by the summer of 2022, new owner Mohamad Fakih thought it was time to reinvigorate the establishment. So he went big and enlisted acclaimed chef Claudio Aprile, known for his previous role as a judge on MasterChef Canada, to breathe fresh life into the menu as Via Allegro’s new creative director.
Aprile joined forces with Marco Zandona, Via Allegro’s head chef of 19 years, to create a new roster of dishes that blends the unmistakable flavours of Italian cuisine with global inspiration from Japan, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. The goal, says Zandona, is to preserve items that regulars have come to love and pair them with fresh options. “Each of these dishes holds a special place in my heart,” he says, “whether it’s a timeless classic like the Margherita pizza or a reimagined one like the beefed-up speducci. Having Claudio on board makes this place rise to the top.”
Via Allegro’s wine collection comprises 70,000 bottles and is valued at $20 million. House sommelier Wendy Votto takes pride in sifting through the phone book–size list to find the right recommendation for every occasion. The liquor reserve doesn’t quite rival the wine collection, but the scotch wall near the restaurant’s entrance is pretty breathtaking.
The restaurant’s imposing façade rises above the Queensway and faces CF Sherway Gardens shopping mall. Inside, a collection of family-sized tables surround a full wood-burning pizza oven and sit more than 200 people. The crown jewel, however, is the back patio, which transports customers away from central Etobicoke’s concrete clusters and directly into a purple-and-green botanical oasis modelled after the gardens of Tuscany.