A Diner with Depth: Red Sauce

It’s impossible to talk about Red Sauce (50 Clinton Street) without mentioning Acadia. That’s just what happens when you have one of the highest rated restaurants in the city and you suddenly decide to stop everything and switch over to a more family-style situation.

Time passes and so do desires. When we sit down with co-owner Scott Selland (his wife Lindsay is the other half of the ownership), he explains that there were many things about Acadia that were never planned and, after three years, it was time to admit that it wasn’t the restaurant they wanted anymore. Also – kids. Kids change everything. Scott and Lindsay have had two since they opened Acadia and their opinion of what they want to find (and give) in a restaurant has changed drastically.

The conversion from Acadia to Red Sauce was quick: out with the old and in with the new in just 30 days. It feels warmer now, like a 1950s dinner… the kind of place you’d expect to find a young family enjoying some Italian classics, with a cocktail or two on the table as well. You see, old habits die hard. This change wasn’t about dumbing anything down, rather broadening it, making it more accessible. For instance, you’ll find a cocktail menu that rivals any in the city. Why? Because despite every one of these delicious drinks being made with premium spirits, not one of them is more than $9. Scott points out that we’re all paying the same for booze in this province anyway, so why not produce something of quality that people can actually afford. This is what he’s been getting at all along. This is what’s behind Red Sauce.

As if to further accentuate the point, a Knuckle Sandwich is put down in front of us. That’s it, that’s all you’re going to find on the menu; the words ‘Knuckle Sandwich’. But when we ask Scott what’s gone into this hearty looking sesame roll, he calmly replies: roasted ham hock and pig schroeder pressed with crunchy mustard, roasted garlic, breaded and fried in panko, topped with rapini and chili and finished with our house Red Sauce. See what’s happening? The talent, love, and commitment to good food is all still here, it’s just been put into a bun. Red Sauce has a complex relationship with simplicity and there’s a depth here that you won’t find at most diners. 

There’s a lot more about Red Sauce to get excited about, like the fact that its kitchen is open until 2am every day. The simplicity of its décor, which harkens back to an easier (less smart-phoney) time. The aforementioned cocktails. The patio that will open in the spring and hold live World Cup viewings. But perhaps the best thing Red Sauce offers is the chance to go to Little Italy to eat simple Italian food with real substance. We don’t know about you, but we feel it’s been a while since that happened. So we say welcome to the neighbourhood – all over again. 

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)

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