il gatto nero toronto

Italian restaurant known for its bustling patio shuts down in Toronto after 60 years

An Italian restaurant that's stood strong at a Toronto corner in Little Italy has announced it's shutting down after 60 years in business.

Family-run business Il Gatto Nero took to Instagram to explain that although they thought they'd be able to reopen after the pandemic, it turns out that won't be possible.

Dear Friends, Family, Loyal Patrons, It is with a heavy heart that we the owners of IL Gatto Nero, Carmine and Michael Raviele, write this notice to our cherished patrons, friends and family. IL Gatto Nero has proudly been a part of the life and evolution on College Street for over 60 years. We had hoped to continue that legacy and tradition, to thrive for generations to come, and remain a place for families to gather and our staff to call a home away from home. We could never have expected the impact that COVID- 19 would have on IL Gatto Nero, let alone our city, nor could we have foreseen any possibility whatsoever that we would not be able to re-open our doors by the end of this global pandemic. We anticipated that we would see ourselves through this difficult time and looked forward to the prospect of bringing our staff, families and friends who have supported us throughout the years back together again. Regrettably, this will not come to be. IL Gatto Nero will not be re-opening its doors. We were unable to see this pandemic through to the end and we are taking this opportunity to say farewell to College Street permanently. We feel fortunate and proud to have had the opportunity to serve this city since 1960, and honoured that we were able to be a part of so many people’s lives, through their trials and tribulations, their triumphs, and joys. We also were so lucky to have the support of our patrons and friends as you witnessed our family milestones, from marriages and births, to birthdays and deaths. We have shared our lives with you and your commitment, support and loyalty will never be forgotten. We wish everyone health, love and peace as we move forward during these difficult times. IL Gatto Nero has always been about family and although out family will be smaller now that we are closing, we ask you to cherish yours and be good to one another. If you have any photos or videos you would like to share or post of IL Gatto Nero memories, please do. We would love to share your memories. With love, Michael, Carmine, Gina, Antonietta, Susie, Carmine-Luca, Sofia and Téa.

A post shared by Il Gatto Nero Bar | Caffè (@ilgattonero1960) on

The heartfelt post thanks customers, family and friends for sharing so many years of memories with the staff, and asks past patrons to share their photos and videos of good times at the restaurant.

The restaurant had tried pizza takeout at one point, but evidently it wasn't enough to survive.

Commenters on social media are sharing an outpouring of memories of Il Gatto Nero, such as writing a master's project on the patio, first dates, pizza and wine nights, hiding out from a mice-infested Ossington apartment and even going there during the height of SARS.

Many more comments express the heartbreak and sadness people are feeling upon receiving this news.

Unfortunately, Il Gatto Nero isn't the first old school Italian restaurant that's been in Toronto for decades to shut down during this difficult time: Vesuvio in the Junction also shut down during the pandemic.

For fans of the restaurant, there's a newer, second location still open in Etobicoke.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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