As restaurant owners know, the success of their establishment is predicated upon three deliciously simple ingredients: location, location, and location.
In this respect, Sarcoa restaurant and bar in Hamilton is a stunning anomaly: It offers spectacular views of Hamilton harbour, yet the restaurant itself is several kilometers from a main street and mostly hidden from road view. Unlike other fine-dining waterfront restaurants in the area, very few commuters drive past. In fact, lake-bound boats and the 37-passenger Hamilton Waterfront Trolley comprise the only naturally occurring traffic in the area.
If foot traffic and car traffic do not naturally flow around the restaurant Sarcoa must be a destination, says General Manager Riccardo Faiazza, “There are not 100,000 cars going by our restaurant a day. People have to have a reason to come here, no one is just driving by our place.”
This is no small task considering the Discovery Centre ““ the buildings' previous nomenclature ““ was mired by low attendance and slowly evaporated from public conscience.
Luckily, Sarcoa is more than just wishful thinking. Co-owners Marco Faiazza (Riccardo's brother) and Sam Destro invested $3 million to semi-renovate the structure and transform the aging facility into a venue they hope will be worthy of local buzz and affection.
With this in mind, the two-year old restaurant looks to dazzle guests with spectacular lakefront views and a variety of dining options.
Guests looking for a casual dining experience will find the main dining area to their liking. Known as “˜Sarcoa', the 200-seat room blends beige walls with deep blues while purple accent-lights add a further splash of colour. A vast glass wall stretching the entire length of the room dials up the “wow” factor and provides each guest with plenty of natural light. On occasion, the sounds of a Pramberger grand piano gently drift in from the lobby.
Those looking for a more private dining experience will find “˜Pier' to their liking. Located just down the hall, “˜Pier' is a collection of contrasts: white chairs surround black tables while purple-backed booth seats juxtapose a pale wood floor ““ the perfect climate for a seldom-used bowtie.
Lastly, guests will find ample space ““ and a limited menu ““ on the Waterfront Patio. Seating more than 350 people, the patio features an underground freezer, a backyard grilling area and even a small stage complete with lights and a sound system. On Fridays after dinner a DJ hits the stage and the restaurant transforms into a club, with the patio doubling as a dance floor. Others may find Saturday nights more suitable ““ it features live bands instead of dance music.
“We were originally going to be a country restaurant,” says Faiazza with a half-serious smile, gesturing to two large, silver smokers in the back of the kitchen. Instead, the restaurant serves up culinary classics with a twist and prides itself on its “made in-house” mantra, which includes: in-house ketchup, mayonnaise, salad dressings, pastas, purees, ice creams and of course, smoked meats.
Guests can expect to pay $26 for pork tenderloin with mustard greens, braised pork belly and mustard puree and $39 for the most expensive meal on the menu, a grilled rib eye steak with house-made chorizo, asparagus, fried potatoes, and leek and ricotta ravioli. Those looking for something a bit different should hone in on the $12 chicken and waffles, a local fan-favourite.
The facility can also be rented out for functions ““ whether it's one cabana or the “˜Pier' dining room ““ or as a whole venue. Faiazza said the restaurant can also adapt to various culinary requirements whether vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free food is required.
Ultimately, Faiazza wants Sarcoa to be “the jewel of Hamilton”, a fine dining experience and venue that crystalizes the culinary diversity and waterfront views Hamilton has to offer.
RECIPE: Smoked & Braised Short Rib
RECIPE: Cocoa-Nib Crusted Milk Chocolate Cheesecake
– 57 Discovery Dr., Hamilton; 905.528.5757 ext. 208