Sergio Navarretta is an internationally recognized award-winning director who happily calls Toronto home. The creative talent places focus on socially conscious projects that explore the human condition, such as Looking For Angelina, a true crime feature that was accompanied by a social action campaign to spotlight issues of domestic violence.
Navarretta has also directed a number of acclaimed short films and worked as a producer on Canadian films and international projects.
His latest movie The Cuban stars a prestigious cast including Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr., Oscar-nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo, Ana Golja, Lauren Holly, and Giacomo Gianniotti. The film is a touching story of human connection and the power of music, following the journey of a young pre-med student named Mina who develops an unlikely friendship with Luis, an elderly Cuban musician with dementia.
Premiering at international film festivals in 2020, The Cuban has already gathered a few awards and ranked in the top ten in the Hollywood Critics Association picks for best film of the year.
We recently caught up with Navarretta, who shared his favourite spots for eats and drinks in the Toronto area. Needless to say, the talented director and producer equally great taste when it comes food as he does with film.
I really love Café Boulud at the Four Seasons in Toronto. The service, experience and food is exceptional, and they make you feel special. They do their best to acknowledge allergies and special culinary interests and desires.The menu is rooted in French culinary traditions. I am celiac and allergic to onions—which seems to be in everything nowadays—so this restaurant easily accommodates my needs.
The menu is small but what they do have is exceptional. Their charcuterie boards have a great variety of cured meats and cheeses, and the niçoise salad is also great.
Completo Coady is a tiny take-out place in the heart of Leslieville that makes the best veggie/vegan and gluten-free tacos ever. They make them fresh every time. The fries are pretty awesome as well.
The service is quick, and on warmer days you can eat outside on the picnic tables and watch the world go by. It is very casual and very well priced.
I used to eat there every Taco Thursday when I was exec producing an animated film, Arctic Dogs, at a nearby studio. It was a team treat and a great way to get out walking to enjoy the sights in the Leslieville neighbourhood.
Speducci Mercatto is the closest I will get to a true Italian trattoria dining experience in Canada.
Gabriele Paganelli, the owner and chef, is incredibly talented. He specializes in—when he ran a restaurant in downtown Toronto—and curing his own dried meats. Now, at this fairly new location, which is more of a casual resto/fine food shop, the menu is small and specific.
I really love their lamb speducci and their gluten-free pizza—which is the best I’ve ever had in the world...and I’ve been to Naples. Gabriele somehow figured out how to master the dough to make it fluffy and chewy, and when it is cooked in a wood-burning oven, I almost forget it is gluten-free.
They also have a shop that sells specialty items imported directly from Italy, as well as pre-prepared speducci ready to throw on the BBQ. I’m not a big meat eater, but when I feel like a treat, this is the place.
Louix Louis is located downtown, on the 31st floor of The St. Regis Hotel. The staff is so thoughtful and ensures that everyone’s experience is memorable.
I love the décor as it transports you in a way. I forget my world when I am there. The music is subtle but creates the right mood and vibe, and I am all about the views!
To me, it’s an ideal place for drinks with colleagues or a romantic evening out. My favourite drink at Louix Louis is a gin martini, a little dirty with extra olives.