The section of Bay St. between Bloor and Dundas St. W. has long been in need of a neighborhood hot spot. The area has acquired a few more restaurants in recent years but nothing as bright and bold as Via Vai.
Opened at the end of April, Via Vai is an immense art gallery like space that spans four stories high. The elaborate mural and glass paintings are the work of Italian artist, Sandro Martini and were completed in 2012. A mural by local Toronto artist, Hajar Moradi is featured at the back of the restaurant.
As I understand, the building was formally the sales center for the Burano Condo development. After admiring the towering views, I finally settle down to read the menu, a single page of Neopolitan pizza and pasta dishes.
I start with the Insallata del Palladio – kalettes sprouts, pancetta, green apples, DOP Piave with valdobiedene procecco vinaigrette. Crispy and refreshing, the pancetta adds just a little saltiness to bring out the sweetness of the apples and the tartness of the cheese.
I love leafy greens, especially on hot summer days, they add a certain lightness to foods, so with that in mind, I have the Marinara Pizza. My pizza arrives, its thin crust, risen and well-baked around the edges, dressed with prosciutto, tomato, Parmigiano and arugula. This simple pizza is satisfying and not complicated by too many toppings, just basic and well done, the way it should be.
It is the end of lunch hour and the sun is shining, there is time for me and room in my stomach to enjoy dessert. The Tortina Alla Pistochi is rich but light flourless chocolate cake. The Tortina is rich but light. The crunchy and intense chocolate flavour is highlighted by the raspberry coulis.
The service is friendly and efficient, water glasses are re-filled regularly and courses are well-timed. I order a cappuccino and sip it while I admire the spine of wine at the opposite end of the restaurant. I am told that each shelf is dedicated to the different Italian wine regions. I make a mental note to eventually explore all levels and each region on my next visits.
Manager, Jordan Lazaruk and Chef, Joe Friday are part of the great team at Via Vai, taking great care to make sure that your experience meets their standards for excellence and service. The restaurant has become a popular spot for private events, it’s not hard to see why. There’s an informal patio outside, if you want to bask in the sun. I however, prefer to sip my cappuccino slowly and soak in the art and light of this delicious afternoon.
A great place to meet friends, any time – also, a fabulous event space, Bay St. north of Dundas St. now has a beautiful dining destination. Bon Appetit, friends.