After possibly the longest soft opening ever, Osteria dei Ganzi launched Oct 16. With all the care that’s gone into the restoration of the historic Gooderham House, at 504 Jarvis St, we hope it will be around for a while — unlike all the others that have tried since it was Angelina’s forever.
Owners Dan Gunam and Luca Viscardi have done lots of things right. The chandeliers and stained-glass windows have been lovingly restored and Mennonite woodworkers were brought in to reclaim the original floors, beams, panelling and mouldings; they built tabletops and a wall-mounted wine storage unit from the door of a 170-year-old barn (and turned the door track into a lighting fixture). For a modern touch, Kensington Market graffiti artist Hajar Moradi was commissioned to provide the art, and it’s worth a trip just to see it. The capper is the mural in the private dining room, a re-creation of Sophia Loren’s famous striptease scene from Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
The sound system is excellent without being imposing, and groovy tunes fill the space, which, even on a chilly fall night, is warm and cozy — it’s all very comfy dolce vita. In Tuscany, a gonzo (plural ganzi) is a fun, cool local who knows where to go, so Osteria dei Ganzi is a sort of Italian pub, a place to gather for a reasonably priced bite to eat, a drink of something tasty and good times with friends.
Chef Guerrino Staropoli’s menu reflects both his Roman and Viscardi’s northern Italian roots, with a touch of Naples in the pizza section: the goal is that “Italians will feel like they’re eating at home,” Gunam says. Pastas and desserts are made in-house, and a prix fixe family-style menu is available for larger groups.
Boozehounds will be happy to discover a serious drinks program. The Wine Sisters — sommeliers Erin and Courtney Henderson — have been signed on to oversee the wine program, and mixologist João Machado has created a compelling cocktail list. Machado is very friendly, handsome and knowledgeable (you know a bartender’s serious when he has 10 different bitters in his mise en place), and he’s there every night but Sunday.
The plan is to open up the second floor for events and private dining, but for now they’re making do with the 90 seats on the sprawling first floor, plus the solarium bar, which, even when Joao isn’t working, is a great spot to sit gazing out the floor-to-ceiling windows onto the huge wraparound patio and Cawthra Square.
A monthly drag brunch will kick off Dec 1, hosted by celebrity queens from the Village. If all goes well, come spring maybe it’ll be the new Zelda’s.