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Introducing: Aprilé Bambina Cucina, a new rustic Italian restaurant on Gerrard East

Introducing: Aprilé Bambina Cucina

(Image: Signe Langford)

Last month, restaurateurs Mary McGugan, Bryan Burke and Ted Koutsogiannopoulos, owners of Hank’s, Great Burger Kitchen, Wine Bar and the still new-ish McGugan’s, opened their third spot along Gerrard Street: Aprilé Bambina Cucina, named after McGugan and Koutsogiannopoulos’s daughter April. The cozy 40-seat restaurant serves rustic Italian food, which McGugan tells us is inspired by the Italian families she grew up around in Welland. “Everyone always ate in the basement kitchen on those chrome chairs and the food just blew you away with its simplicity and quality.”

Burke, the chef, has created a menu of simple Italian classics dominated by pasta ($12–18) and pizzas ($13–16) which draw on culinary traditions from across the country. He sources naturally raised, local meats as well as sustainable seafood and carefully chosen imports. “I blind-tasted dozens of kinds of canned Roma tomato for our red sauce,” Burke told us, “and turns out the best is a California-grown Italian-American cultivar.” Some of the pastas—like ravioli, pappardelle and gnocchi—are made in-house, while the rest are quality dry Italian imports, and the pizza dough is made from the “00” flour that pizza purists insist on.

Inside, the room harkens back to classic Italian-American eateries, with various kitschy pieces sourced from Goodwill, ReStore, Winners and even the side of the road. There are also vintage movie posters McGugan picked up from a street vendor in Rome and, yes, a Vespa hanging over the front door, illuminating the way in. Ultimately, Burke tells us, they set out to create a comfortable, neighbourhood restaurant. “We all live in the ’hood and we built the kind of place we like to go to and we serve the kind of food we like to eat.”

Aprilé Bambina Cucina, 1054.5 Gerrard St. E., 647-352-6969,

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  • Christina Archer

    Gerrard Street East has turned into a food paradise, thanks to Mary McGugan, Byron and Ted. Can’t wait to try the new place. The food at McGugan’s is just delicious,

  • Karen K

    We have been here three times, every thing was delicious, The mussels were perfect the pasta cooked El dente and the staff friendly and knowledgeable of what was on the menu and specials. Go a perfect east end gem!

  • Local Foodie

    Terrible Horrible place. People running it are nasty. I am forced to go there occasionally and the food is ok. People though are Just horrible running it.

  • Post-r

    Forced to go there? At gun point? Why do you return if you hate it? I’m trying it for the first time tonight. If I see you there eating pasta at gun point, I’ll alert the police, ok?

  • Post-r

    I’m happy to report that our experience was wonderful. I ordered the Rigatoni Bolognese (perfectly cooked pasta, tasty meat sauce, perfectly portioned), and hubby ordered a pizza which he thoroughly enjoyed. Staff were professional, non-intrusive and charming. Sorry, Local Foodie, didn’t see you there last night. Everyone there looked like they were there voluntarily….