Name: Merenda Kitchen
Neighbourhood: Liberty Village
Contact: 171 East Liberty St., #144, 416-583-2131, merenda.kitchen, @MerendaKitchen
Owners: Fabio Gelmo, Cassius Williams (Locus 144)
Chef: Daniel Janetos (Buca, The Saint, Farmhouse Tavern)
The Food: Italian dishes made with organic and sustainably sourced ingredients. The menu follows Chipotle’s customizable-meal model: customers choose a base (greens, grains or panini), top it with a protein (porchetta, meatballs, chicken, crispy mozzarella or ratatouille) and add a sauce (tomato basil, garlic crema or pesto). There’s also a handful of bar snacks, meat and cheese boards and trendy bone broth on offer. Janetos is a health nut, and can accommodate most food allergies and special diets. A portion of Merenda’s profits are donated to a Waterloo-based wildlife rehabilitation program, which Janetos’s mother heads up. “If we’re killing 100 animals a year to feed people,” he says, “I want to be saving 101.”
The Drinks: Classic cocktails, a short wine list, four brews on tap (Kronenbourg, Kronebourg Blanc, Sapporo, Peroni) and a selection of bottled beer. Cold-pressed juice will be added soon, with the option to spike with a shot of booze.
The Space: Tucked away in Liberty Market Plaza, the space (which was previously Locus 144) is a kitchen by day and still Locus Lounge by night. Dinner is served from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., after which it’s party time and the tables are cleared away to make room for a dance floor. Lunch service is in the works.