Tutti Matti Restaurant
By YP Contributor

From Tuscany to Toronto

Chef Alida Solomon never shies away from a challenge. Opening up her first restaurant, Tutti Matti, during the SARS epidemic was an endeavour that would test any entrepreneur’s mettle. “That was rough. The city was told you shouldn’t eat out because of SARS,” says Alida. “My determination got me through...To work an 18-hour day to run your own business, you have to love what you do.”

Tutti Matti’s origins started in Tuscany, where Alida worked at a Michelin rated restaurant for seven years. She had the opportunity to be an owner there, but chose to come back to Canada and do something that wasn’t being done in Toronto. “No one in Toronto was doing authentic Italian food without influences from North America,” says Alida. “Like Wild boar, venison, charcuterie board, you know, no one was really doing that in Toronto in 2002.”

The way I wrote the menu and the way everything is coursed is in a way so that people can experience how they eat in Italy. The philosophy of treating our customers is the same way as if you’re in Italy. I want people to experience everything. - Alida Solomon, chef
Alida Solomon, chef at Tutti Matti.

Food and culture

True Tuscan food is more about the culture of eating than just the ingredients on the plate. Alida wanted to recreate that culture at Tutti Matti. “It’s about sitting at a table for 3 hours and actually enjoying each other’s company,” she says. “The importance of breaking bread is as important as what you’re eating for dinner.  I want it to be about conversation and spending the night together and enjoying really great food and conversation.”

Alida carefully crafted the menu to create that type of culture at Tutti Matti. Reservations have longer windows to eat so people won’t feel rushed to finish their food. “The philosophy of treating our customers is the same way as if you’re in Italy,” says Alida, “I want people to experience everything.”

Interior of authentic Tuscan restaurant Tutti Matti.

Award-winning menu

The Tuscan concept is quite different than the typical North American view of Italian food. There is no tomato sauce involved and you won’t find any chicken Parmesan on the menu. “If you’ve been to Italy, nobody serves chicken in restaurants,” says Alida. “They may serve rabbit or wild boar. The authenticity of ingredients is very important to me. Not because it’s a status symbol, but because that’s the way that it should be.”

Alida’s hard work and perseverance paid off in 2009 when Tutti Matti received the prestigious L’Eccio D’Oro Award from an Italian food and beverage consortium for restaurant of the year. “For the first time, I realized that me leaving Tuscany had a purpose,” says Alida. “Instead of pursuing my career in Italy, I feel I have given other chefs in the city an opportunity to spread their wings and not just cook the basic Italian food. It meant so much to me.”

Interior of authentic Tuscan restaurant Tutti Matti.
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