Otta Zapotocky is looking to serve up some hearty meals to Leasiders this winter.
His Bayview Avenue strip restaurant, Tinto, serves tapas style dishes and, given how traffic to his location slows down during the colder months, he’s looking to introduce a cuisine that is hard to find in Ontario: alpine.
“I did some research and it does not exist in Ontario,” he said of food that originates from the nations that share the Alps.
In the summertime, Tinto is “hopping” because, as Zapotocky says, people want to eat and share.
“In the winter, people just come on the weekend,” he said. “I want to give them something that is more suitable for the weather. You need to give them a hardier food.”
So, expect stick-to-your-ribs meals like bone in pork shoulder schnitzel, pork hock, fondue, raclette, Beef Short Rib with Goulash Sauce, Rabbit Stew, Beef Wellington and Choucroute garnie — a French-dressed sauerkraut.
And expect a name change: Val D’Isere.
Zapotocky borrows from the commune in the Tarentaise Valley of Southeastern France. The area borders Italy, and is well-known for hosting World Cup skiing events.
Speaking of French cuisine, Zapotocky also owns the restaurant L’Avenue that sits right across the street from Tinto, and assured the two will not compete with each other.
“What I want to do is I want to change people’s opinions about schnitzel,” he said. “It’s a real honest food. There aren’t too many ingredients to leave it open for shortcuts.”
Unfortunately, Zapotocky has not had good schnitzel in Toronto, noting a lot of the bier markets offer limited quality.
“Everything tastes like a shoe — overcooked and dry,” he said.
Born and raised in the Czech Republic, close to the German border, Zapotocky admitted he grew up making schnitzel, so he’s in his milieu.
“For me it’s a comfort food — it screams home,” he said. “And the winters here are harsh, so you need to eat properly.”