Toronto Italian sandwich shop has been popping up at bars you can't drink at right now
Toronto is no stranger to the Italian sandwich shop, but our newest one is mobile and has been popping up in unexpected places: all our favourite bars that we can't drink at currently.
Flora's Deli is the brainchild of Chef Jesse Mutch, who once helmed the kitchen at French restaurant Chantecler for a period. For this project, though, his inspiration was far from escargot and chicken liver.
"The whole Flora's Deli project is based on food memory for me. As a kid, I grew up around three fantastic women who showed me their way around a kitchen: my Nonna Flora, mom and aunt all inspired my passion for food," Mutch told blogTO.
"They raised me on soulful and hearty dishes that were not only delicious, but stayed with me on a sentimental level to this day. Flash forward a few odd years and I've now taken that inspiration, embodied their spirit and packed it into flavourful paper-wrapped sandwiches, just like my Nonna Flora did when I was a kid."
Available on Uber Eats as well as for pickup, a tight menu consists of classics like meatballs, an eggplant panini, a cold cut panini, and a cannoli di zucca with roasted pumpkin and ricotta.
"The project has been a growing seed for a year now, but is built on a tight bond between me and my partners, Tommy and Ailbhe. The three of us met while opening a restaurant about four years ago (since moved on) together, where we developed a natural chemistry that we couldn't ignore," says Mutch, referring to his time at Labora.
"It's safe to say we've been scheming to do something of our own for quite some time. When COVID struck the country and we all lost work due to the tough hit the hospitality industry took, we came together and said, 'if not now, when?'"
Pop-ups at local bars during the summer when restrictions were looser were the on-ramp to launching Flora's. This sparked a connection with Mahjong Bar, and Flora's now operates out of their kitchen.
"When lockdown wasn't in effect in the summer/fall, we started off by getting a couple pop-ups under our belt at The Caddi and Blood Brothers to help us dip our feet in the water. However, after a while we felt unsafe using different spaces. Our first pop-up was at The Caddi, which is where we met Kyle from Mahjong," says Mutch.
"We bonded over New York deli love, when he told me the chicken cutlet sandwich tasted like Parisi. That's like saying you shoot like Gretzky. Mahjong, like countless other bars and restaurants, was sitting vacant. There was an old-world-style cheese shop pop-up in the front that was coming to an end and Kyle reached out to see if we wanted to use his kitchen."
Flora's Deli is available for pickup at 1276 Dundas St. W. and on Uber Eats from Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.
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