Agio Ristorante
By YP Contributor

A Love of Italian Cuisine

"I’m from South Korea, but I changed my name when I worked near Rome," says Marino Song, owner and chef at Agio Italian Ristorante. “The town I was working in was close to Rome and called Saint Marino. It was really pretty. I adopted a lot of Italian culture when I worked there." Even more than his name, perhaps the most notable acquisition from Marino’s time in Italy was his expertise in the country’s cuisine. Patrons regularly describe his food as “phenomenal,” “fresh” and “yummy.”

Marino spent seven years working in Italy, including a stint at The Four Seasons in Milan. However, his journey into Italian cuisine had its beginnings elsewhere. Before heading to Europe, he helped open an Italian restaurant in Seoul for The Samsung Group and he worked in one of the top Italian restaurants in Tokyo – The Sabatini. When he arrived in Canada, he studied at George Brown culinary college and worked in several Italian spots before opening Agio Italian Restaurant.

Many Italian customers say my food is like their mother’s. It’s such a compliment. - Marino Song, owner
Agio Italian Ristorante

Italian Food Like Mama Makes

When you meet Marino, you get the feeling that here is someone who has found his calling in divine sauces and home-made pasta. He knows his anti-pastis, insalates and secondis inside out and has a drive for simply making food that people love. “I’m passionate about delivering fresh, delicious, good quality Italian cuisine to my guests,” he says. Fresh is the key word here. While you’re enjoying your appetizers at Agio Italian Ristorante, Marino will be in the kitchen preparing your pasta from scratch. “I do homemade stuffed pasta like ravioli and gnocchi,” he says. “The stuffed lobster pasta is delicious and I make my own pesto sauce.”

It’s not surprising that Marino gets a lot of first- and second-generation Italian customers dining together here. “Many Italian customers say my food is like their mother’s,” he says. “It’s such a compliment.”

Agio Italian Ristorante

Make Yourself at Home

For someone who loves Italy enough to change his name and create Italian dishes that garner superlatives on a daily basis, it’s hard to believe that Marino didn’t start out with a focus on Italian cuisine. “I wanted to learn how to make Japanese food in Tokyo, but the language was tough for me,” he recalls. “There were opportunities for skilled chefs to work in Sabatini where it wasn't necessary to know Japanese. That’s where I honed my skills and fell in love with Italian food.”

True to trattoria tradition, Agio Italian Ristorante has a homey, casual feel with Marino chatting to customers about the dishes and his wife’s art work on the walls. “Agio means 'make yourself at home' in an Italian dialect,” says Marino. “That’s exactly what I want customers to do here.”

Agio Italian Ristorante
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