Awards and accolades are nothing new for Dine.TO's "Best of TO" winner, Via Allegro. When proprietor Phillip Sabatino set out to open his restaurant, his goal was to open one as big as his passion for food and drink -- not to mention his personality. In eleven short years, Sabatino's Via Allegro has earned four diamonds from the CAA/AAA, won Whisky Magazine's "Great Whisky of the World" accolade, a DiRoNA award as well as Wine Spectator's Grand Award 2009 for their outstanding wine list.
The sommelier team at Via Allegro has amassed one of the best stocked wine cellars in Canada. There are over sixty wines available by the glass, not including dessert wines and ports -- definitely remarkable. Following the wine is one of the largest whisky collections in the world - impressing even the distillers themselves, when they are in town to visit. Via Allegro also boasts the largest grappa selection alongside a selection of quality spirits.
The walk-in wine cellar is close to the front of the restaurant. Before entering, Phil explains the significance of the design bordering the cellar, which is a breast-like motif symbolizing mother earth. Within the cellar, from top to bottom, the numbered sections correspond to the country and region of the wines contained therein. Sommelier Joseph Cassidy points out the intricacies of their sophisticated storage system, "We also have twenty-two wine fridges throughout the restaurant, housing the Amarones, the Sassicaia's, Chateau Latour's."
Throughout the meal, Phil Sabatino speaks proudly of his staff and what he does to motivate and inspire them. In an industry where obsolescence and staff turnover is rampant, he rewards both staff and clientele with a passion for the best. Always on the lookout for the biggest, best and brightest, Phil Sabatino fuels his passion for excellence and shares the wealth, with his industry innovations. "The Wine Challenge" was created by Sabatino to promote excellence and friendly competition amongst sommeliers. The prizes are fitting. Trips to famous wine houses in Italy and Spain, Australian wine tours, a Scottish distillery tour as well as cash prizes, scholarships and private tastings.
The literal translation of Via Allegro means "road to happiness". When the restaurant promises a well executed menu, a motivated staff, an incomparable wine and whisky program and a number of prestigious awards - that road is a guarantee when dining at Sabatino's Via Allegro.
FIVE STARS: (Extraordinary) A one-of-a-kind, world-class experience.
FOUR STARS: (Excellent) Superior. Memorable, high-quality menus and/or savvy service.
THREE STARS: (Good) Solid places that beckon with generally appealing cooking.
TWO STAR: (Fair) Just OK. A place not worth rushing back to. But, it might have something worth recommending.
ONE STAR: (Poor) Below-average restaurant.
*Reviews are meant to describe a dining out experience at a given period in time and are the personal opinion of the writer.
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