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Introducing: Bestellen, the new College West meat den from Top Chef Canada’s Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi’s new restaurant is no place for carnophobes

The most recent in a slew of west-end spots run by young restaurateurs capitalizing on the affordable rent, Bestellen has finally opened on College West, right next door to Italian eatery Black Skirt (the name is German for “to order”). Chef and co-owner Rob Rossi, who took second place in last year’s season of Top Chef Canada, and business partner Ryan Sarfeld, a trained chef who transitioned to the front of house, modeled their first venture after the kind of place they’d like to hang out in: the music is loud, there are plenty of beers on tap and the menu, designed for sharing, is heavy on the meat.

The partners met back in 2009 when Rossi was working at the Mercatto group of restaurants, where Sarfeld was a manager. In early 2011, the two began conspiring to open their own place. They found a gutted former convenience store and began the renovation process, designing the space themselves. They kept occupied during the seven-month construction job with Rossi curing meats and Sarfeld prepping eight different barrel-aged cocktails. The visual focus of the 80-seat space restaurant is the glassed-in dry-aging room, whose shelves are lined with hefty bone-in striploins, rib sections and Rossi’s house-cured salamis. A couple of whole pigs also hang behind the glass—this is no place for the carnophobic.

Rossi cites Italian, Spanish and German cuisine as inspirations for the menu, which consists mainly of shareable plates and larger cuts of meat. Hoping to encourage communal dining, he’s even serving an entire suckling pig (a minimum of eight people and 72 hours notice is required). The kitchen roasts and serves the whole pig as a family-style feast, including snacks, salads and sides ($59 per person). Those who’d rather not order the full animal have plenty of other carnivorous options on the regular menu, like baked hen’s egg and n’duja sausage served with house-baked bread ($10), steak tartare with aïoli, olives and a deep-fried quail’s egg ($13) and chorizo-stuffed squid with white beans, smoked tomato and cilantro ($12). There are also big pieces of meat that are meant to be shared, like the 32 oz. côte de boeuf with roasted bone marrow and choice of two sides ($98). Sarfeld’s cocktail list includes a variety of freshly shaken options, as well as a rotating special from his barrel-aged collection. Currently on offer is an aged negroni ($14) that they promise is potent—it’ll have to be to stand up to all that meat.

Bestellen, 972 College St., 647-341-6769, bestellen.ca

Our Introducing series explores newly opened restaurants, bars and shops throughout the GTA
This is not a review.
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