Church Aperitivo Bar opens on Queen West
By Karolyne Ellacott
Inside Church Aperitivo Bar (all images by Karolyne Ellacott)
Though patrons may be tempted to tiptoe their way into Church Aperitivo Bar, the atmosphere is grounded — with a few heavenly touches. Taking over a Slavic Pentecostal church (as far as the owners know) longtime friends Sandra Cassaro and David Beddia wanted to open a social place that spoke to their Italian backgrounds.
Cassaro, who comes from the film and TV world, is well acquainted with the Queen West ‘hood thanks to video shoots in the area. After eyeing the building for years, Beddia finally spotted it up for sale; snapping it up was a no-brainer. Designer Guido Costantino (Buca) kept the bones of the building intact: the floor and the brickwork hail from the ‘40s, while the ceiling is highlighted with an oval opening. Communal tables line the room, while a lengthy bar — topped in Italian marble — runs down the eastern wall, which is dotted with illustrated birds.
The Italian menu is meant for sharing. Cassaro says that she’s tired of being committed to one dish, preferring to test out everything with her dining companions. In the early evening, complimentary antipasti and stuzzichini are offered to diners, mimicking the Italian tradition.
Crostini come with a selection of toppings, including ricotta and honey, a black olive spread, lardo or nduja (four for $10); carpaccio arrives in either the beef or the daily fish version — when we were there it was swordfish complemented with some lightly fried eggplant. More substantial dishes include lamb chops crusted with pistachio and almonds; the dish is then dotted with salsa verde (it’s available in either a single or a shared portion, $11/$36). A tightly-edited dessert menu puts a spotlight on the essentials: tiramisu, panna cotta and millefoglie ($6).
The drinks menu features cocktails with saintly names: Trinity, Salvation and The New Testament. The Halo is a complex mix of vodka, Galliano, butter ripple, limoncello, lemon juice and egg white ($15), while Divine Intervention stars Aperol, prosecco and soda ($12).
“We were testing out drinks for months — it was very difficult work!” laughs Cassaro.
We’re pretty sure Madonna would give the place her blessing.
Church Aperitivo Bar, 1090 Queen St. W., 416-537-1090