Sharing our legacy and experience, bringing the world truly exceptional wines—that is our passion. Along the way, we have built a network of friends and collaborators that has turned the world into a welcoming, multifaceted place that feels like home; so many different people, places, and personalities united by a shared love of quality wine and food.
Bar Isabel in Toronto (Canada) embodies the city's cosmopolitan spirit, serving up a culinary and enological mosaic inspired by a winning, exuberant concept with echoes of Barcelona.
Alessandro Pietropaolo—Bar Isabel’s co-owner, general manager, and wine director—tells us how this adventure began: “Grant, our chef, spent quite some time traveling around Spain, and eating and drinking in Barcelona, and Bar Isabel is the result of that. When we opened in 2013, Toronto had practically no places to go for Spanish food. We wanted to introduce people to a different style of food, as well as the rich landscape of Spain's wine regions and their culture.”
The director Alessandro Pietropaolo (l.) and chef and wine manager Grant van Gameren (r.), of Bar Isabel
Diversity is precisely what makes Toronto unique. Such a variety of cultures and traditions, life experiences and stories come together here—and, of course, a gastronomic panoply born from old European roots that fills one of North America's most diverse cities with color and flavor.
Geographically speaking, Bar Isabel straddles the Italian and Portuguese neighborhoods, but it is anchored in the spirit of Spain, the spark of inspiration: “Toronto is an amazing place to run a restaurant, because you have access to so many different cultures and ingredients,” says Alessandro, “Grant, the initial management team, and I are all Toronto natives, and we grew up in this mosaic of food cultures. We're proud to contribute something unique to this culture. Our location, halfway between Little Italy and Little Portugal, has the perfect pedigree, but still feels urban; as a neighborhood, it has a long history of European immigration (including my grandparents) and old-school restaurants.”
The wine list boasts European names, with an emphasis on Spain and Portugal, along with the country's big stars. An award-winning wine list, celebrated as one of the most complete in all of Canada. “We strive to represent classic regions and producers, as well as exciting new promises,” Alessandro remarks, “Our customers expect to try something new, something difficult to find. They want to be guided through Spanish wines in a way that the wine lists at most restaurants in this country don’t do.”
Cosmopolitan in spirit, Bar Isabel serves up a culinary and enological mosaic inspired by a winning, exuberant concept with echoes of Barcelona
“When you walk into Bar Isabel, it's like stepping into a classic Barcelona bar, with the music, décor, and menu to match. We're known and loved for our authentically old world atmosphere and our delicious menu of Spanish-inspired small plates.”
Alessandro has become somewhat of an expert in Familia Torres wines over the years, the result of a longstanding relationship: “I first encountered Familia Torres wines as a young waiter in Montreal, and they have been on almost every wine list I've worked with since,” Alessandro recalls, “I've been to the winery and attended several seminars. And I believe that any Spanish wine list would be incomplete without a Familia Torres on it.”
A food and wine pairing suggestion?
“You can't do better than Mas La Plana with our cut of Ontario Beef. Or Grans Muralles 2010 with our special roasted octopus, chorizo, and our very own patatas bravas (spicy roasted potatoes). Simply perfect!”
Bar Isabel serves contemporary Spanish fare prepared with fresh local ingredients and the finest European imports
...and a wish?
“I hope Familia Torres keeps producing the refined, well-crafted wines it is known for; wines on the forefront of enological innovation,” Alessandro replies, “Personally, I really admire Familia Torres’s focus and commitment to sustainability, and how it has managed to maintain its identity as a family winery. The fact that this remains unchanged, after 150 years, is impressive.”
We raise a glass together and toast the many years to come.