As we’ve all heard by now, longtime Yorkville hotspots Sotto Sotto Restaurant and Spuntini Restaurante and Bar were destroyed by a fire on Christmas Night, leaving both the owners and the rest of the city heartbroken.
There’s really no other word for it.
Images of the blaze tugged on the heartstrings of Torontonians, especially young professionals with fond memories at the establishments and hopes of more to come.
Here’s why we think it felt so particularly crushing to see these familiar hangouts go up in flames…
The City has a Connection with the Owners
It seems everyone has met the owners of Sotto Sotto and Spuntini, whether at the restaurants or out on the town. Sotto Sotto owners Lou and Marisa Rocca are regulars on Toronto’s charity event scene, and are also known for their cut-no-corners bashes held at their Forest Hill mansion. Marisa has been recognized for her hands-on approach in running the restaurant since it opened in 1993. Even if you didn’t know him, watching the footage of Spuntini co-owner Peter Catarino after the blaze, calling himself “traumatized,” caused your heart to break.
They Were Toronto Staples
In a time when countless, once-bustling restaurants are being forced to close their doors all too often, both Sotto Sotto and Spuntini have survived the test of time and become landmarks on Toronto’s culinary scene. You can’t say that about many restaurants in this city. Both were among some of Yorkville’s most defining staples, and ones that housed more than enough juicy history within their cozy confines.
They Were Go-Tos for Celeb Sightings
Especially during TIFF, you were pretty much guaranteed to spot a celeb – either a Hollywood A-lister or one of Toronto’s finest – getting their fix of some authentic Italian fare just a few feet away from you. Past Sotto Sotto diners include Brad Pitt, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Anthony Hopkins, Drake (who shouted out to the restaurant in “Pound Cake”), Johnny Depp, Ben Affleck, and Oprah Winfrey, just to name a few. The restaurant is also a favourite of Kevin O’Leary, who tweeted his “heartbreak” over the incident.
Precious Celeb Photos and Autographs Are Now Ash
Not only did celebs visit, they also left their mark. Both Spuntini and Sotto Sotto’s walls of celebrities were almost as big a draw as the food, and were precious exhibits in themselves. The owners didn’t miss a chance to photograph the countless celebs that have graced the restaurants’ doors with respective jam-packed photo walls that contained photos and greetings from some of the world’s most recognized faces. It’s sad to think that photos and memorabilia (pieces of local history) from stars like Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Johnny Depp, and Sean Penn are now likely left in ashes.
Everyone Has a Memorable Story Involving Either Restaurant
Because Sotto Sotto and Spuntini were synonymous with special occasion, most of us have distinct, fond memories spent at either restaurant throughout our young professional lives. Whether it was dinner with coworkers after locking in a business deal, celebrating a milestone birthday with your parents, or making a memorable date night, they were always the perfect option.
Now there’s Even Less of a Reason to Hit Yorkville
With the once Yorkville-dominated TIFF having moved downtown, along with the opening of The Shangri-La, Trump Toronto, and The Ritz (making The Four Seasons and the Park Hyatt no longer the only hotel bar options), we now have even less of a reason to hit Yorkville in the wake of the fire. This is especially true in the winter months when Summer’s is closed and it’s too cold to chill on “the rock.”
We’re Forced to Put Our Cravings on Hold
Both Spuntini and Sotto Sotto are known for their comforting, authentic Italian food. They were the type of places you may even order the same thing each time – like the famous Spaghetti Amore or the stone oven pizza at Spuntini, not to mention Sotto Sotto’s risotto, veal, steak, or (especially) the homemade tiramisu. It looks like we may never get to satisfy these cravings again…