“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”. As sad as that song lyric can be when you think about it, Parcheggio restaurant may just have done the opposite.
Parcheggio is the newest offering from the Oliver & Bonacini Group, and is located in North York within the parking lot of Bayview Village mall. The name actually translates to exactly that in Italian – parking lot. I hope you understand the song reference by now.
The O&B Group was founded in 1993 by Peter Oliver and Michael Bonacini and is known as one of Canada’s most reputable groups of restaurants. They have built their empire throughout the country based on quality food and service and bringing unique and inventive dining experiences to their customers.
Parcheggio is no exception. What I loved even more than their simple, creative and homestyle Italian cooking was their concept. The tongue-in-cheek reference to begin located in a parking lot is infused throughout the actual design of the restaurant. The “P” in Parcheggio is designed as parking sign, there are streetlight style light fixtures throughout the space and even painted “parking lines” on the floors.
But now on to more important things, the drinks and the food. I was lucky enough to try both and I can tell you one thing, it’s 100% worth going to a mall for. Head Chef Andrew Piccinin takes his inspiration from where he grew up in Italy and how his family used to cook at home. I tried their lunch menu but they are also open for dinner and brunch.
To start there was house made Focaccia, Liver and Onion Bruschetta, Arancini Caprese and their Big Saucy Veal and Bacon meatballs. What I noticed right away about each of these dishes was how they were just a little bit different than what you would typically expect at an Italian restaurant. For example, they have your traditional tomato bruschetta on the menu but this option with duck liver takes decadence to the next level. My favourite, the arancini, didn’t come stuffed with risotto. Instead they kept it simple with just mozzarella, parmesan and fresh tomato sauce.
For the mains, the standout for me was the Rigatoni Alla Carbone made with just tomatoes and mascarpone. The staff refers to this dish as “crack pasta” and I can see why. I could not stop eating it. It was just a simple dish with simple ingredients but somehow, I was addicted.
Parecheggio also has a pretty stellar cocktail game focusing on Italian classics like the Negroni, and with 5 different kinds of Negroni’s on the menu, you’ll very easily find something for everyone. Their other cocktails all have well known Italian ingredients like Aperol, Amara Montenegro, limonata and spumante.
The best part about the experience was getting a behind the scenes look in the kitchen. All the pasta is handmade, the meat is beautifully marinated and smoked in their in-house smoker and if you’re smart, you’ll order their lasagna which is only available in limited quantities during the day and is made after chef’s nonna’s recipe.
If you find yourself in the North York area, I’d highly recommend parking yourself at Bayview Village and head over to Parcheggio to enjoy some classic homestyle Italian food and cocktails. You can thank me later!