I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a go-to spot to eat at on the Danforth. Sure, there are countless Greek restaurants scattered about but nothing that really sets itself apart from the rest. So, to say I was excited when news broke of a possible Libretto on the Danforth is an understatement. We met up with Co-owner Max Rimaldi during the last phases of construction to get a glimpse at the long awaited pizzeria.
Words & Photography by CHUCK ORTIZ
“The Danforth needs its staple Greek restaurants, but it also needs to get freshened up,” says Rimaldi. “And I think this will be a bit of a help.”
The neighbourhood is going to get some unique flavour injected and a chance to taste the creations of one of our city’s best chefs, Rocco Agostino. Working under Agostino will be Luigi Encarnacion. When you look at Luigi’s resume and most notably his previous gig as Chef de Cuisine at C5 Restaurant at the ROM, you can only imagine how great his contributions to the menu will be.
“We really want to allow Luigi’s style to shine. For example, he has dungeness crab ravioli with uni cream sauce on the menu.” But Rimaldi reassures the diehard Libretto pizza lovers that, “the pizzas will be the star of the show. They will remain 80% the same as Ossington but the others will be Luigi specials and then the other side of the menu is all Luigi.”
The great thing about all of their restaurants is that they focus on each individual place and each individual chef and what they have to offer.
“That is exactly the inspiration behind it, I don’t want it to be known as a mini chain. Not that there’s anything wrong with chains, I mean, sometimes people like to know what they’re eating. But at the same time, there’s a lot of integrity behind the food program here. Why bring in Luigi if we’re going to be doing the same food as the other locations?” Rimaldi explains.
And the distinct personality of Danforth Libretto extends to the design as well. Rimaldi and partner Clarke sought out the design services of some of the best in the biz.
“We used a company from New York called Andre Kikoski Architects, they just recently won lots of acclaim for the restaurant in the Guggenheim. Although they are from New York, they are using all local woods.”
“I designed Enoteca Sociale with a local designer as well as the first Pizzeria Libretto. I really enjoyed designing but I also realize that it’s not my strength.”
Rimaldi took us on a quick tour to give us a sense of what to expect on opening night.
“If you go to our Ossington location, there is typically a wait so we just take your phone number and send you across the street. Now we can do that here.”
MAIN DINING ROOM
“The center here is the main dining area. There is going to be a banquet across the dark wall. This lighter side will have huge chalkboards, kind of like Ossington. We really want to use the chalkboards as part of the menu now. I love walking into a restaurant like The Black Hoof for example, where I can make my way through their chalkboard menu. I don’t want a menu in front of me because it’s very formal. When the menu stays on the wall it allows food to keep on rolling.”
“So this is the lounge waiting area. Down here we are going to have a chalkboard menu serving little snacks called “Sfizi”, which means, “a little snack”, in Italian. We want to keep it really simple here, just 4 or 5 snacks and 1 or 2 good cocktails. We are all about doing a few things as best as we can. We are also going to have a DJ setup in the corner, not for dancing but to help create a vibe.”
PRIVATE DINING ROOM
“This is the semi private-dining area. It’s going to be a really large oak table. Again, communal going on as well.”
We’re waiting with bated breath for the arrival of the second Libretto. It might be hard to picture it now but then again, if you’ve been to any of their other restaurants you probably get the picture already.