Ricarda's Restaurant
By YP Contributor

Easy like Sunday morning

Sunday morning jazz isn’t something one often encounters in Toronto. But at Ricarda’s, that isn’t stopping anybody. In the front window of the corner space, a jazz trio brings a sense of occasion to one of Toronto’s favourite meals: brunch. Inside patrons tuck into a smorgasbord of food — along with a mimosa or two — and let the notes gently start their day.

Nestled in a former biscuit factory in the heart of the Entertainment District, Ricarda’s feels like something one might find in New York. High industrial ceilings are complemented by touches of gold and green, imbuing the restaurant with an approachable elegance. “The colours reflect the tonality of Mediterranean landscaping,” chief operating officer Chris Glaessel says, gesturing around the room. “The owners love the dynamic of Toronto, and when they came up with the concept, they wanted to represent their travels.” The restaurant swirls the different regions together, resulting in Ricarda’s.

We’re choosing recognizable dishes from the Mediterranean and giving them a modern twist. - Chris Glaessel, chief operating officer
Photo by Karolyne Ellacott
Photo by Karolyne Ellacott

A hotspot for brunch, lunch and dinner

During brunch hour, diners fill their plates from a seductive buffet that reaches from a caprese salad to cinnamon roll French toast to eggs with foie gras, but of course. There’s even a kids section, fit with picks for little ones who can head over to the bouncy castle to play once they’re done. Meanwhile, weekday mornings see office workers pop by early to grab house-baked pastries to-go alongside their lattes. Lunch hour is brisk business, with those same downtown workers tucking into healthy fare like Israeli couscous bowls and build-your-own salads. Finally, dinner highlights include the honey-braised lamb shank paired with basmati rice studded with fruits and nuts. Another popular dish is the Iranian saffron-scented risotto strewn with fava beans, plenty of pecorino and topped with a trio of jumbo prawns.

Photo by Karolyne Ellacott
Photo by Karolyne Ellacott

Modernizing the Mediterranean

Ricarda’s cuisine skips over the entire Mediterranean region on the menu, presenting favourites from France, Spain and Italy, and even dipping down to Morocco. The camera-shy owners both hail and reside full-time in Germany and wanted to open a restaurant that spoke to their passion for the food from an area beloved to them. That’s not to say any of the dishes claim to be exact duplications of what one would find in, say, Sicily.

Chris, who has worked in restaurants all across the world, is well versed in what makes excellent food, and is convinced that recreating a dish outside of the region of its origin is simply not possible. “We’re choosing recognizable dishes from the Mediterranean and giving them a modern twist,” Chris says of Ricarda’s fare. “If you want to make a chicken tagine taste like it does in Morocco, it has to be made in Morocco; that’s why Ricarda’s is ‘inspired by’ the Mediterranean.”

Photo courtesy of Ricarda's

It's all about the dessert

But of all the possible items served, the most important menu item is a dessert. The real Ricarda (one of the owners) is a true tiramisu aficionado, and when opening the space she was dead-set on including a proper take on the Italian classic sweet. Following a number of kitchen-side tries, the final opus emerged with every element — the espresso blend, the semifreddo, the lady fingers — made in-house and wrapped up in the prettiest of packages. It’s this kind of attention to detail that makes Ricarda’s stand out in Toronto’s sea of restaurants.

Photo by Karolyne Ellacott
Close menu