In the short time it's been open, Savio Volpe has woven itself inextricably into the fabric of our food scene.
Is Savio Volpe really new? Somehow in the short time it’s been open, it’s woven itself so inextricably into the fabric of our food scene that, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, it seems like it’s always been with us. It wasn’t the first spot to open in the now-burgeoning Fraserhood (Les Faux Bourgeois was there pre-Olympics), but it’s tough to imagine that triangle of hipness without it as the anchor. Nor was it first to go for a neighbourhood take on regional Italian cuisine—La Quercia already had the high end, Ask for Luigi, the low—but it somehow already seems the leading player in this genre. It’s brought to us by an Avengers-esque dream team of talented partners: L’Abattoir’s Paul Grunberg, who is quite simply the hardest-working restaurateur in town; Craig Stanghetta, who first carved out the niche of restaurant design, and then so thoroughly dominated it that it’s rare when a high-profile new room isn’t designed by him; and chef Mark Perrier, whose solid CV (he spent the previous two and a half years at Two Rivers Meats, and time before in supporting postions at CinCin, West and London’s Le Gavroche) gave scant indication that he was not only ready to helm his own room but to absolutely knock it out of the park in one that’s been packed seven nights a week since the first day it opened. The fluid menu changes frequently, but already there are some stalwart dishes that have become sought-after signatures: a bagna cauda of such warmth and depth that it grounds the entire dining experience as a joint venture between diner and chef, an old-school garlic bread that shows a kitchen confident enough to put delicious before stylish, a take on rosemary-lemon grilled chicken that sets the city’s standard with its balance of rusticity and class—all backed by old country-inspired cocktails that, at $9, are 25-percent less than what similar spots charge, and a hyper-focused all-Italian wine list that’s only slightly more dense than Dante’s Inferno (but far more rewarding).