Canadian Interiors


Feature

A tale of two restaurants

Designed to mirror the distinct food philosophy and personality of their owners instead of broader target group demographics, two new Toronto restaurants appear to be bucking the brand-as-personal trend - let the marketing chips, or pommes frites, fall where they may.


1 BLD

Designed by 1point0 Interior Design

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner/BLD, downtown on Toronto Street, represents Diane Paz and Warren Gyulay’s first design commission after leaving Cecconi Simone in 2010 and going out on their own. It is also the first solo restaurant for owner Lynda Angelucci, a stylish cosmopolitan, lover of fine art, and fan of the gourmet organic repast.

Its site is ideal: an ex-fast-food joint situated in a heritage building, strategically located to attract businesspeople during the day, fun-seekers and a growing number of condo dwellers at night. The front half of the 1,600-square-foot restaurant has been styled in a typical shotgun configuration, reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s renowned “Nighthawks,” his haunting 1942 painting of a Greenwich Village diner. The left side comprises the main restaurant and bar, the right a hostess booth and small private dining room; a passageway slices through the centre, leading to an open kitchen and compact takeout eatery at the back.

Much to everyone’s delight, during the demolition phase four steel pillars and some bracing girders were exposed. These building bones have been left as is, found art that fits in perfectly with the client’s design dictate of “New York loft meets L.A. freshness.” A set of triangular girders in the kitchen area actually acts as a kind of sketched-in doorway between the food prep and cooking stations; in the private dining room, a recess has been cut out of the drywall to suggest a picture frame around a section of dark, heavily riveted steel. Next to this hangs a colourful modern painting, one of several scattered throughout the restaurant and all from the client’s personal collection, a visual admixture part-museum and part-private dwelling that fulfills the client’s desire for an elegant “home away from home.” 

Nor does the art of attraction end there. A study in contrasts – dark and black against white and light – is particularly noticeable in the main restaurant area. Matte white walls, lacy ivory Caprice bar stools and snow-white pressed quartz tables and countertops stand out against the dark gun-metal veneer of the bamboo bar, tufted black leather Passion chairs and black bolstered neoprene banquettes, helping to break up much of the space’s inherent solidity. A bamboo lighting bulkhead runs the length of the room, its dark rectangularity almost mocked by the gregarious series of white acrylic mobiles dangling within, shooting off shifting iridescent reflections from the overhead PAR20s. Poppy-red glass around the hostess booth, echoed across the bar’s back wall, offers a shock of relief. 

The impression, whether one is seated in the restaurant or standing outside gawking, is that of being a participant within a painting. BLD’s branding, in its own roundabout way, equates fine artwork with culinary artistry, a celebration of the creative spirit amidst quotidian
surroundings.  2 Fabbrica

Designed by Giannone Petricone Associates

Design and real-life partners Ralph Giannone and Pina Petricone were given the enviable if daunting assignment of shaping celebrity chef and TV personality Mark McEwan’s latest restaurant, Fabbrica, located at The Shops at Don Mills, an upscale outdoor mall in northeast Toronto.

A true showman, McEwan was looking for “a lively, entertaining environment where the sous-chefs are only arm’s length from the diners.” As a serious fan of Italian cookery (his latest book, also called Fabbrica, is due in stores this month), McEwan wanted to blend authentic Italian fare with new-world Canadian touches in a space that echoed its name: in English, “fabbrica” means “factory” – a perfect fit for a business where, to use insider parlance, the staff work “the line.”

Taking him at his word, Giannone Petricone gave the high-ceilinged, 6,000-square-foot space a production setting, filling it with such industrial semaphore as a plastic letter-board by the front hostess station; rolled steel lighting grids and storage shelves in the adjacent bar-lounge; rough wooden slats (which double as sound suppressors) lining three walls of the dining room beyond; and, stretching across the fourth wall, an enlarged blueprint of the restaurant’s signature harlequin-diamond facade. Even more workmanlike is the private dining area tucked between the open kitchen servery and functional meat-curing room (a glass-fronted, temperature-controlled locker wherein hang locally sourced prosciutti and salami encrusted with character-imbuing molds). Here, serviceable Thonet chairs surround the literal plain board of a sprucewood refectory table. Purposely cheap slat walls interspersed with cork and routered plywood panels add to the atmosphere. 

The pizza de résistance, however, is the Carrara-marble-topped pizza bar, which has been thrust like a modern stage into the main dining area, allowing customers to become part of the real-life cooking show. A huge, seven-foot-diameter pizza oven dominates this section, its traditional Neapolitan brick interior clad in a factory-issue, polished steel-plate boiler. 

Sitting demurely to one side is a grey-painted movie projector, an allusion to the restaurant’s second motif: Italy’s mid-20th-century renaissance, neatly time-capsuled in such iconic films as La Dolce Vita and Roman Holiday. A certain glamorous incompleteness to the restaurant’s overall design; the lighting grids, unfinished walls and ceiling vault in the bar-lounge; the ready-for-your-close-up umbrella lights that form a virtual ceiling in the dining room; even the utilitarian steel shelving and polished concrete floors throughout – all are references to another kind of production, one familiar to its TV-star owner. Customers are not only invited to be participants in the scene, they also get to experience the digetic, behind-the-scenes elements that go into creating on-camera magic. 

“We wanted to compose a series of settings that allowed patrons to be reconceptualized members of the cast in our cinematic food production,” Ralph Giannone revealed during a recent sit-down interview. Beside him, Mark McEwan smiled a trifle indulgently. To him, the design is ingredient-driven, the show’s real star simply the joy of cooking.  cI 

2 Fabbrica
Designed by Giannone Petricone Associates

Design and real-life partners Ralph Giannone and Pina Petricone were given the enviable if daunting assignment of shaping celebrity chef and TV personality Mark McEwan’s latest restaurant, Fabbrica, located at The Shops at Don Mills, an upscale outdoor mall in northeast Toronto.

A true showman, McEwan was looking for “a lively, entertaining environment where the sous-chefs are only arm’s length from the diners.” As a serious fan of Italian cookery (his latest book, also called Fabbrica, is due in stores this month), McEwan wanted to blend authentic Italian fare with new-world Canadian touches in a space that echoed its name: in English, “fabbrica” means “factory” – a perfect fit for a business where, to use insider parlance, the staff work “the line.”

Taking him at his word, Giannone Petricone gave the high-ceilinged, 6,000-square-foot space a production setting, filling it with such industrial semaphore as a plastic letter-board by the front hostess station; rolled steel lighting grids and storage shelves in the adjacent bar-lounge; rough wooden slats (which double as sound suppressors) lining three walls of the dining room beyond; and, stretching across the fourth wall, an enlarged blueprint of the restaurant’s signature harlequin-diamond facade. Even more workmanlike is the private dining area tucked between the open kitchen servery and functional meat-curing room (a glass-fronted, temperature-controlled locker whe
rein hang locally sourced prosciutti and salami encrusted with character-imbuing molds). Here, serviceable Thonet chairs surround the literal plain board of a sprucewood refectory table. Purposely cheap slat walls interspersed with cork and routered plywood panels add to the atmosphere. 

The pizza de résistance, however, is the Carrara-marble-topped pizza bar, which has been thrust like a modern stage into the main dining area, allowing customers to become part of the real-life cooking show. A huge, seven-foot-diameter pizza oven dominates this section, its traditional Neapolitan brick interior clad in a factory-issue, polished steel-plate boiler. 

Sitting demurely to one side is a grey-painted movie projector, an allusion to the restaurant’s second motif: Italy’s mid-20th-century renaissance, neatly time-capsuled in such iconic films as La Dolce Vita and Roman Holiday. A certain glamorous incompleteness to the restaurant’s overall design; the lighting grids, unfinished walls and ceiling vault in the bar-lounge; the ready-for-your-close-up umbrella lights that form a virtual ceiling in the dining room; even the utilitarian steel shelving and polished concrete floors throughout – all are references to another kind of production, one familiar to its TV-star owner. Customers are not only invited to be participants in the scene, they also get to experience the digetic, behind-the-scenes elements that go into creating on-camera magic. 

“We wanted to compose a series of settings that allowed patrons to be reconceptualized members of the cast in our cinematic food production,” Ralph Giannone revealed during a recent sit-down interview. Beside him, Mark McEwan smiled a trifle indulgently. To him, the design is ingredient-driven, the show’s real star simply the joy of cooking.  cI 


Print this page



Related






Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*