LOCAL FLAVOUR: Piazza Bistro

Piazza Bistro, a new semi-sunken restaurant in Oakville's Towne Square, is a testament to balance. Neither pretentious nor mundane, the seven-month-old restaurant presents a blend of cuisines and unabashedly eclectic décor that sharply contrasts the “must-have-a-theme” restaurant mentality.

Established in March by Joanna Tomal and Frank Bruno, husband and wife owners of the adjacent Towne Square Gallery and Native Art Gallery, the restaurant was created with a simple, dedicated approach. “We were trying to fill a niche of good, authentic, back-to-basics, passion driven food,” says Tomal. “Good food was a passion and the whole idea for the restaurant, rather than just a “˜restaurant in Oakville' business.”
Located on the perimeter of Towne Square in Oakville, it took Tomal and Bruno one year to prepare the vacant space and source the necessary décor. Designed by Tomal with an eclectic flair, Piazza Bistro seamlessly balances antithetical design themes like Scandinavian-style dining tables and chairs with circular black-rimmed Florentine mirrors and soft, adjustable hanging table lights.
As guests walk in, red tile behind the café counter provides a walloping dollop of colour, while brushed chrome and sparkling metal trim adorn the transparent snack and gelato cabinets. Thick, brushed metal bar stools with red tops beg you to pull up a seat, while a subtle grey tile floor ties the room together tighter than the in-house gnocchi. Veer right through the doorway and, like a secret cave invisible from the outside, the café opens up onto a dining room filled with cozy cues like the custom-made oak chairs and tables and saddle-brown leather half-booth tables.

In keeping with Tomal's back-to-basics, fresh approach, all of the ingredients are sourced locally where possible. Whether it is the fresh-baked bread from COB's bakery in Oakville, or daily soups like butternut squash that change daily to accommodate for what Ontario has to offer, Piazza Bistro manages to balance its menu with choices for even the most discerning guests. According to the owners, food at Piazza Bistro is not prepped, or even half-prepped ““ it's all made to order. From in-house pastas, in-house salad dressings, and in-house sauces, nothing is waiting to be ordered or already half-cooked. There are no soups in vats or half-prepped meatballs. In fact, due to the restaurant's fresh, no-prep standards those who order a dish like risotto (notoriously tricky to make and often partially-prepped) are warned it will take an extra few minutes due to the extended cooking process and non-prep nature.

All this attention to detail is seen to by Chef Daniel Pascoa in the kitchen. With more than 20 years experience, Pascoa is bringing his culinary flair to the classics on Piazza Bistro's menu.

Trained at George Brown College, Pascoa has an apprenticeship with Chef Lino Collevecchio, formerly of Via Allegro, to his credit.

To stick with the cozy, informal feel of the restaurant, no dress code is required and guests are encouraged to walk-in anytime, day or night, although reservations can also be made if guests wish to avoid the occasional wait. With 12 tables outside (weather permitting) and seating for 40 inside, Piazzo Bistro looks to make the most of its small footprint.

Seated at the back of the restaurant on a plush French sofa, sipping a foamy cappuccino with Bruno and Tomal under an Italian chandelier, Russian wood flooring beneath our feet, it's clear the restaurant has created its own eclectic style; firmly built on their “passion for good food, good drink, and good company” philosophy. Oh, and don't be shy to ask where they found the toilet paper holders, you won't be the first”¦

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– 94 George Street; 905.618.0255