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Introducing: Strada 241, a new rustic Italian restaurant and café from the Rubino brothers

Introducing: Strada 241

(Image: Signe Langford)

For Michael and Guy Rubino, Strada 241, their brand-new restaurant and espresso bar on Spadina, is a way for them to go back to their Italian roots (“strada” is Italian for “street” or “path”). The Rubinos have spent the past decade immersed in high-end East-meets-West fusion cuisine at Ame and Rain, which Guy refers to as “high-wire-act cooking in designer restaurants.” But it seems midlife has drawn the brothers to the traditional cuisine of their hometown, Salerno. Guy, the chef, tells us, “We’ve gotten older, we’ve become a bit nostalgic. Michael got married and had a couple of kids, and I formed a band—Curtain Call. We’re cutting a record now and we just did a tour. So we are ready for more balance in our lives.”

From the sidewalk just south of Dundas, the 90-seat spot is easy to speed right past, but once inside, the restaurant—a former Victorian glass-blowing shop—is impressive: soaring ceilings, massive timbers bolted together with fist-sized iron rivets, wide-plank floors, soft-white Italian marble. At the back of the room, the ceiling bears scorch marks from its days housing blast furnaces and molten sand. The 3,800-square-foot space is divided into separate cozy areas with their own distinct personalities, and scattered throughout is a collection of playthings: foosball, a deck of cards, a chess board that sits on the communal café table.

The menu on the restaurant side of things, executed by 13-year Rubino staffer Robert Gonsalves, is simple: salads, pastas, cured meats, rustic veggies and pizzas, all staples of Salerno. A house-made salumi plate ($12/$24) includes seasonal air-cured meats (currently, there’s wild boar and soppressata) as well as Italian cheeses and house-made peach and mustard-seed preserves. The pizzas are fairly traditional, like a classic Margherita ($12) with tomato sauce, basil and fior di latte, or the Pasquale ($15), with soppressata, roasted peppers and olives. And though Michael concedes that plenty of restaurants are doing this style of food, he believes he and his brother have an edge, and not just because of their decades of experience or their in-house bakery, which turns out fresh pastries daily for the café. “Quite frankly, I’ve eaten in places around Toronto serving a version of Southern Italian, and I think we can do it better.” In other words: it’s on.

Strada 241, 241 Spadina Ave., 647-351-1200, strada241.com

Our Introducing series explores newly opened restaurants, bars and shops throughout the GTA
This is not a review.
Toronto Life’s starred reviews can be found in their entirety in our
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  • opl

    Congratulations to the Rubinos for their comeback. Can’t wait to try it.

  • Rosemary

    Best lattes in Toronto! The pastries & baked goodies are also delicious – buttery light croissants, danishes with real hazelnuts, and banana muffins. Can’t wait to try the pizzas and pastas for dinner.

  • hillcrest

    yawn

  • wine

    who keeps giving these guys money to open places. what a joke. crooks.

  • Restos in TO

    Just had a delicious lunch here. Usually pretty skeptical of casual Italian restaurants (city is swelling with them), but I enjoyed this more than its counterparts by far. Prices and portions reasonable as well, which is always a bonus.

    Will definitely be writing a positive review.

    Cheers.

  • mike999

    Wow. The scammers are back! But not to worry, plenty of your sheep will follow.

  • Glass Houses

    I’ve been to Strada, for lunch. It was excellent. Unpretentious good Italian fare. Good selection of apps, pizzas and pastas, plus a concise, wallet friendly wine list. We were offered some cookies from the cafe on our way out. I plan on returning with friends for dinner as soon as possible.

  • Collin

    Wow! The place looks awesome as well as the foods. Thanks for sharing and keep posting.

 

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