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Experience elevated dining inside a furniture store at posh GTA restaurant

Anyone who’s shopped for furniture knows it can really work up an appetite. Taking a cue from a certain Swedish retailer, whose founder famously said, “Hungry customers buy less,” a North York furniture store has followed suit by opening their own upscale version, Cafe Elte.

Serving Southern Italian fare, Chef Mauro Ritacca has curated a menu that celebrates tradition while highlighting the tastes of his heritage. Alongside coffee and fresh daily pastries, the cafe serves a lunch and brunch menu, complete with accessible grazing plates, salads, paninis and pastas to pair with Italian wine.  

Experience elevated dining inside a furniture store at posh GTA restaurant
@elte/Instagram

“A lot of our furniture, our rugs, and the products that we sell are classically inspired pieces using natural materials,” says Elte co-owner Andrew Metrick. “It’s similar to how the cafe menu has been created with quality ingredients, classic dishes, simplicity, and things that are well-made. There’s a lot of parallel between our restaurant offering and our product offering.”

Metrick, joined by his brother Jamie, is a fourth-generation owner of the design brand. The brothers discovered Ritacca through a team member who praised the food at his cafe, Cucino Mauro, just a few blocks north of their showroom. Wanting to revamp the restaurant within Elte, which had closed due to the pandemic, they knew Ritacca was the ideal partner.

When designing the café, the team was intentional about creating an inviting and welcoming atmosphere without causing distraction or feeling out of place in the showroom. The café itself exudes chic modernity, making a statement with its black oak paneling, subtle lighting from onyx sconces, and natural travertine flooring.

“Everything down to the tableware is curated to be warm and more artisanal and really celebrate the food that’s being served,” says Metrick.

@elte/Instagram

That food that’s being served dates back to tradition even older than Elte. Following Ritacca’s philosophy to respect tradition, the café offers familiar dishes from Cucino Mauro while catering to Elte’s refined clientele.

Ritacca, a Canadian-born chef full of anecdotes, humorously claims he would’ve been Italian if born a few hours earlier. His mother, returning to Canada from Italy, went into labour on the plane. His dishes mirror his diverse heritage, blending Italian influences with his evolving culinary style.

The menu was recently updated to make room for the addition of a few open-faced sandwiches (called “crostones”) and salads, including a popular beet salad and the Nizzarda. Similar to a Niçoise salad, Ritacca notes the dish actually has roots not far from his own.

“A lot of people don’t really realize that Northern Italy on the coast is near Nice and actually shares the origins of that salad,” he explains.

@elte/Instagram

The brunch menu, though smaller, with frittatas, breakfast sandwiches and jam spreads, is just as heavily rooted in tradition and storytelling. Given that southern Italy has a heavy Middle Eastern influence, the dish uova in purgatorio (eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce), more commonly recognized as shakshuka, shows the diversity of Italian traditional cuisine.

In the coming months leading into spring and summer, Ritacca plans to not only expand the offerings of the brunch menu, but to add an aperitivo menu, or light-bite menu, for late afternoons spent at the cafe.

“It’s really going to add to that environment where people can linger, enjoy a glass of wine and [it encourages] people to stay awhile,” says Ritacca.

Cafe Elte is located at 80 Ronald Ave