First Look: Actinolite, a new restaurant that’s spreading the Ossington strip’s culinary vibe north of Bloor


Published:

As Ossington continues to be a prime culinary destination south of Bloor, its comparatively underwhelming north-of-Bloor side just got a boost with Actinolite. Opened March 28, the new restaurant is the long-awaited project of husband-and-wife duo Claudia Bianchi and Justin Cournoyer.

The two restaurateurs bought the building at Ossington and Hallam six years ago. Right away, they knew they would want to live on the upper storey and run a restaurant on the ground floor. But the place was a dive, Bianchi says, so without the help of investors, the two began a meticulous reconstruction.

In between working behind the scenes at food TV shows (Bianchi is a food stylist and the Culinary Producer for Top Chef Canada) and working numerous cooking gigs throughout the city (Cournoyer trained under chef Lorenzo Lozeto and was part of the opening team at Susur), the pair slowly brought their 30-seat restaurant to life.

For those unversed in obscure Canadian trivia, Actinolite is also the name of a small community in eastern Ontario, pretty much right between Toronto and Ottawa. Cournoyer, who heads up the kitchen, grew up there (fabulous memories, apparently) and insisted that the restaurant bear the name of his hometown.

The décor pays apt tribute to the place: the wood on the ceiling, tables and bar top came from the area, cut and finished at his family’s Actinolite mill. Artwork based on family photos lines the walls.

Food wise, the seasonal menu offers a mishmash of influences: Spanish, Italian and Portuguese; French technique is evident throughout.

“Justin has one foot in another century and one foot in this century,” Bianchi says of her husband’s cooking.

Trout from Kolapore Springs ($14) is cured with caraway oil and served with a dill crème fraîche on top. On the side, slightly pickled artichokes are doused in a lemon-carrot vinaigrette.

A veal T-bone steak ($26) from Vince Gasparro’s Meat Market, aged two weeks, is marinated in garlic, thyme, lemon rind and olive oil. It’s charbroiled to medium and served with broiled asparagus, panko-crusted onion petals, a creamed spinach puree and a lemon-parmesan sauce.

Other options include tagliatelle ($18) with a walnut watercress pesto and porcini mushrooms, a grilled rack of Ontario lamb ($28) or apple cider-glazed pork shoulder ($12).

On opening night, old-school jazz and an antique-heavy ambience complemented Cournoyer’s cooking. The patrons, apparently, were almost all neighbourhood residents. It was exactly what the Actinolite team was hoping for.

Actinolite, 971 Ossington Ave., 416-962-8943

Edit Module

Join the conversation and have your say by commenting below. Our comment system uses a Facebook plugin. Please note that you'll have to turn off some ad-blockers in order to see the comments.

Edit Module

Follow us on Twitter @PostCity for more on what to eat, where to shop and what to do in Toronto.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

You may also like...

Mexico meets Japan

Mexico meets Japan

Posted 11 hours ago
Madame Boeuf and Flea, a new eatery like no other

Madame Boeuf and Flea, a new eatery like no other

At Madame Boeuf and Flea it’s all backyard party, all the time. The newest arm of the Anthony Rose empire — squirelled away behind Bar Begonia — is dotted with picnic tables, retro concert posters (Grateful Dead, anyone?) and, let’s be honest, a patron or two looking to get their late afternoon drank on.
Posted 1 day ago
Sixteen restaurants sign on to cook regional Italian food for 2nd Giro d'Italia

Sixteen restaurants sign on to cook regional Italian food for 2nd Giro d'Italia

This weekend is the kickoff for the second installment of Giro d'Italia, Toronto's now semi-annual Italian Restaurant Week. This is a sort of thematic, focused Summerlicious that involves 16 local establishments each producing a prix fixe menu based on the cuisine from a specific Italian region.
Posted 5 days ago
First Look: Wong’s offers a pan-Asian take on ice cream to east-end neighbourhood

First Look: Wong’s offers a pan-Asian take on ice cream to east-end neighbourhood

Toronto’s love for ice cream lives on, from the charcoal variety to the confection-topped kind we just can’t get enough. Cue Wong’s Ice Cream, located at Gerrard and Broadview.
Posted 6 days ago
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit Module