Oretta: an art deco interpretation of Italian beauty
TORONTO — Restaurateur Salvatore Mele is taking his first step out of Midtown Toronto with the opening of Oretta.
The 220-seat, 6,500-square-foot restaurant aims to provide a casual art deco interpretation of “authentic Italian beauty,” spread out over two floors.
“It has a little bit of the ’70s and a little Great Gatsby,” Mele said. “We used a lot of pastels, like pinks. We used tons of colours to make sure this was going to be a fun restaurant. It’s loud. Loud Italian.”
The restaurant is divided into three dining areas, complemented by 25-foot ceilings and pink walls with arches and copper inlets. On the first floor, the main dining room is open for lunch and dinner. As well, a café with its own entrance opens at 8 a.m.
“The restaurant is designed for anytime of the day,” Mele said.
After 5 p.m., the café, which serves espresso-based beverages, house-pressed juice, pastries, pizza, salads and paninis, transforms into a private dining space.
“There’s a lot of different stuff happening there,” Mele said. “We made sure it was multifunctional.”
The second-floor mezzanine, which seats about 100 guests, overlooks the main dining room and is used for private events or as regular restaurant seating.
“We recognized the shortage of event spaces downtown. The whole reason we have the mezzanine is to host a lot of this corporate stuff,” Mele said. “There are a lot of restaurants that just don’t have private spaces.”
A room divider in the mezzanine helps accommodate smaller parties, while a presentation kitchen allows guests to interact with chefs as they work.
“It feels like you’re in someone’s house. Someone is actually cooking right there for you,” Mele said. “You can sit down and chat with the chefs as they prepare.”
For the executive chef position, Mele recruited Christian Fontolan, originally from the Marche region of Italy. Food Network chef David Rocco serves as Oretta’s brand ambassador.
“Once in a while, he’ll be doing things upstairs,” Mele said.
The menu will fuse ingredients from Italy with local suppliers. While Mele said they use local ingredients where possible, certain Italian flavours can’t be reproduced in Ontario.
“There are just certain things, like olive oil, you can’t get in Canada,” Mele said. “We’re getting better and better, but a parma prosciutto from Italy is on a different level.”