Monday, 15 April 2013

When one door closes another opens that’s full of life and fun


Life is about great food and wine.
Life is about true friends.
Life is about having fun.
Introducing Vita Sociale - where living and socializing intersect.

When Centro closed its grand doors a few months ago it quickly created a ripple of emotions amongst Toronto’s food lovers. This was to be expected. After all, twenty-five years of providing one of the finest quality dining experiences in the city, is certainly no small task. Many famous chefs have tried and failed maneuvering through Toronto’s foodie jungle, where fads come and go with the waxing and waning of the lunar cycle.
Armando Mano, "Vita Sociale will be a high energy place."
But Armando Mano, owner and visionary of the new Vita Sociale is an optimist and contrary to public perception believes in the philosophy that all good things need not come to an end; good things can become even better.
It will be nothing like the old Centro, Armando says. The only thing that Vita Sociale will have in common with the former restaurant will be “continuous commitment to great service”.
Armando’s passion in this new concept restaurant is unwavering: “You have to go with your heart in this business. And everything has an expiry date.”  
I had the pleasure of sitting down with this charming, down-to-earth, forward-thinking visionary, on how his new restaurant will be more welcoming, more fun, and a meeting point for the physically growing and demographically changing Yonge/Eglinton neighbourhood.

“We cannot be everything to everyone, but we want to execute it in a level that is expected of us – high quality, well-presented, and friendly service.”


How will it be different?
Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, Vita Sociale also features a takeout bar from 11-5 with Italian-style pulled-pork, veal, brisket sandwiches and pizza. In addition, the restaurant will also sell in-house prepared sauces and pickles. For the most part, there will be no reservations – making it easier (and approachable) for folks to pop by after work and enjoy a bite to eat with their coworkers or family in a fun, unique atmosphere.

Vita Sociale’s rustic Italian concept focuses on a casual dining experience, with a price tag that will pleasantly surprise you. “It’s approachable,” Armando says. The décor also feels real, warm, and dare I sound redundant in saying “approachable”. Incorporating his personal travel experiences, Armando Mano has infused a unique decorating panache into Vita Sociale’s grand open space. From 125-year old barnyard boards on the bar, exposed brick on the walls, and old iron chain chandeliers from cellars in Italy, the space will charm your senses, as the food from the wood-burning oven, will delight your taste buds.
Whether it’s pizza or chicken from the wood-burning oven, you can be certain that under Armando and his team’s management, Vita Sociale will pay special attention to some essential ingredients: great food at an affordable price point, fine wine that is for drinking by everyone (not for storage in a cellar), and attentive service enveloped in a lively, invitingly casual atmosphere.

“The music will be upbeat and happy…whether you are 14 or 45 you will be able to relate.”


Here’s part of the interview with Armando Mano:
About the Food
Armando: I still want to keep it real but we are definitely going to be very health conscious. We’re going to have whole wheat pizza and whole wheat pasta. Everything we will offer in pizza or pasta, we will do in multiple styles. We’ve also paid attention to a more sodium conscious menu.
Chef Simon Abad knows all about food that delights.
Having a wood-burning oven that’s not strictly for pizza means that when you cook things like chicken in it, with the natural flavours of the wood – it’s going to be very distinguished.
At the end of the day, Italian food is the most approachable food. From a simplistic style – kids like it, adults like it, whether you are on a strict diet – it’s still approachable.

About the Wine
Armando: Want to focus on wines from 3 main regions:
Wine 45 whites, 45 reds – and will be changed on a regular basis. Approachable price range.
Regions Represented: Italian, Ontario, California
I want to make it approachable: 30-40% of our wines will be priced under $50. I don’t want people to feel intimidated.

About the Service
Armando: We are in the service industry at the end of the day. So we are definitely going to be customer friendly. That means we are going to slice the pizza for you. We don’t have the philosophy that there are no changes to the menu whatsoever. Unlike other restaurants, we will definitely be more accommodating. Within moderation, we will definitely make some alterations to our pizzas, which enhance the guest experience.

About the definition of a foodie
Armando: A foodie is someone who enjoys a great plate of pasta; someone who can determine the difference between a great plate of pasta, and a mediocre plate of pasta; a great loaf of bread and a mediocre loaf of bread; a great piece of fish that’s well-cooked vs. a mediocre piece of fish that’s not well-cooked. A foodie is someone with a great palate.

In the estimation of yours truly, this venture is not about Armando Mano chasing after the latest fad; there are plenty of establishments that do rustic Italian already.
It is about bringing the real Epicurean philosophy to fruition: 
Life is about great food and wine.
Life is about true friends.
Life is about having fun.
Vita Sociale – The Social Life.


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