Vv Magazine’s Libby Roach gets the exclusive on the Financial District’s newest Italian joint, Via Vai.
Via Vai is set to take the city by storm with their interpretation of elevated Italian. While that concept has been done (to death, some would say), Via Vai promises to raise the bar with Head Chef Joe Friday (Underground Chef Cartel), and pizza maker extraordinaire Darcy Sweet at the helm of the mighty Valoriani spitfire pizza oven. This dream team is backed up by FOH Manager Jonny Nadler (El Catrin) and created by power house serial restauranteurs Dan Gunam (Osteria dei Ganzi, Templar Hotel, Roosevelt Room) and Luca Viscardi (Toula, Osteria dei Ganzi). The all-white space resembles an art gallery; at the foot of the tasteful Burano Condo tower, that is no coincidence. The exterior shell of the restaurant is all floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing the bustling cityscape of Bay and Grosevnor a sneak peek of Chef Joe Friday’s art in motion.
The airy room has 40-foot ceilings with a massive AGO-worthy mural splashed across the back wall. Giant panes of shattered glass sheets hang from the ceiling, blocking some of the kitchen noise and the adjacent bathrooms. Of interest to lovebirds, the co-ed bathrooms are private, big, and will likely be competition for another certain restaurant with romp-worthy restrooms (cough cough, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen).
The dining room sits about 80, with a large bar along the back wall outfitted with a few flatscreen TVs. White leather benches dot the large tables in the centre and, at the back wall there, is a booth area that would make for excellent people-watching opportunities. Stools are en route for use at the chef’s table, which will look over the custom pizza oven.
The menu will feature game meats, pizzas, salads, and, of course, pasta. Chef Joe learned to master pasta in Japan, where he lived for ten years. Those years he spent learning the language as well as the food, which is evident in his sublime handmade noodles. His tortellini with beef cheek ($16.00) is a perfect portion of his expertise on display. The noodles are delicate, stuffed with porcini mushrooms and ground hazelnuts that have been toasted with butter and sage. Braised beef cheek adds a meaty protein and the bone marrow veal reduction is nothing short of chuggable. Strips of parmesan and expertly skinned cherry tomatoes make for a thoughtful garnish.
Careful presentation is on full display with the insalata Panarea ($12.00). Fatty tuna confit crowns layers of shaved fennel and celery, with pops of pretty purple courtesy of the taggiasca olives. Crispy toasted chickpeas add a crunchy texture to the dish. Tasty, simple, but elevated — all hallmarks of Chef Joe Friday’s cooking.
Desserts will include a chocolate cake, panna cotta, and the classic Italian tiramisu.
While the taps were in, there were no kegs to be seen, but expect Italian imports to hold court for draught beer. The wine list will be an impressive blend of Italian, Australian, some local, as well as one from Israel, none of which will be available at your local LCBO.
Located at 45 Grosvenor, Via Vai is now open from 11:30-2:30 for lunch, and dinner from 4:30-11pm. They will be open for dinner only on Saturdays; Sunday will feature a brunch menu and dinner service.
What dishes are you dying to try at Via Vai? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.