rick mcginnis/metro toronto
7 Numbers Danforth
Address: 307 Danforth Ave.
Hours: Tues-Sat: 5pm-11pm, Sun: 5pm- 10pm
Dinner for 2 w/tax & tip: $60
**** (out of five)
The chairs are up on the tables and Vito Marinuzzi’s mother Rosa is in the kitchen with his brother, Tony, picking up bread, pizza dough and entrees to take up to the family’s new restaurant on Eglinton. It’s the middle of the afternoon and the family business is dead on course. The regulars will start making their way into Vito and Tony’s Danforth eatery in a couple hours, while Rosa will begin serving diners at the new place, and Vito is recalling family life when he was growing up.
“Mom cooked three meals a day, that’s for sure. Standard sized family — dad worked, we’d all converge for dinner, and you’d have an appetizer course, and then your pasta and meat would be served at the same time. Special occasion you’d have a fish course. My dad was a butcher, so it was pretty convenient.”
Vito, Tony and Rosa are part of a large, extended family whose little empire includes Gio Rana’s on Queen Street West, the kitchen where the cooking talents of Rosa and her sisters left their homes and began feeding the city the sort of simple, authentic family fare they grew up eating. Vito describes their food as a basic, almost essential cuisine.
“A lot of fried seafood as an appetizer, because we’re from the coast of Italy. Getting it in Toronto is sometimes hard. No dish would have more than one or two ingredients. A pasta dish would have one vegetable and cheese, and that would be it. There’s no cream in our cooking.”
Dinner at 7 Numbers begins with a thick piece of bread with cherry tomatoes baked into the crust on a plate of homemade salami. There’s calamari fried in strips, and a small bowl of spicy penne with mussels, followed by Osso Bucco in a simple but flavourful sauce of carrots and celery. It’s a cook’s cuisine, not a chef’s — there are no unexpected combinations of ingredients or unusual preparations straight from a science textbook.
“We’re lucky,” says Vito, as his mother gets ready to leave for the kitchen uptown. “Italian’s a staple food. There’s a simplicity to it. We’re not re-inventing the wheel or anything.”