Bar Sugo Toronto

Bar Sugo

Bar Sugo brings even more saucy Italian food to Bloor Street West and is the evolution of Conzo's, located next to sibling restaurant Sugo.

When Conor Joerin and Alex Wallen opened the original Sugo restaurant in 2017 they might never have imagined the wild success story it would turn out to be. The Bloordale restaurant has been a sensation, with folks lined up outside daily in the hopes of a table. 

bar sugo torontoDuring the pandemic, they pivoted, opening a pizza place next door named Conzo's, and now that life has resumed in the city, they've pivoted again.

bar sugo torontoConzo's has evolved into Bar Sugo, a new, bigger space that expands its Italian-Canadian comfort food concept to welcome more eager patrons.

Bar Sugo TorontoSuccess hasn't gone to their heads though. In fact, it seems it's only made their hearts grow bigger.

bar sugo torontoNot only have they committed to charity work that included feeding families and front-line workers during the pandemic but they had also offered lonely or depressed folks a free meal.

bar sugo torontoNow they're working to honour those who came before them and inspired what they do. 

bar sugo meatballBar Sugo's menu carries over all the original Sugo offerings like Spaghetti ($19), Chicken Parm ($15), Burrata Caprese ($19) and a giant Meatball ($11), but marries them with a new list of original, brick-oven pizzas.

bar sugo torontoThe latter pays tribute to other Toronto pizza landmarks, fellow co-owners, neighbourhood geography, and even the chefs in the sugo pizza

The Conzo ($28), named for the first iteration of their pizza venture, takes Sugo's addictive rose sauce and uses it on a simple cheese pie instead of standard tomato sauce for a richer, creamier result.

Bar Sugo TorontoFor meat lovers, there's the Bitondo ($28), named in honour of Little Italy pizzeria, Bitondo, which the guys grew up eating. This one is fit for a boxer with pepperoni, crumbled meatballs and bacon all topped with smoked mozzarella. 

Junction landmark, Vesuvio, which closed in 2020 after 63 years in business, also gets a nod with a spicy Calabrese-style pizza covered in green sugo pizzaSugo's much-loved pesto sauce makes the jump to pizza on the Uncle Scotty ($28), named for behind-the-scenes co-owner, Scott Pennock.

Topped with chilis, zucchini, whipped ricotta and basil, every green bite starts out soft and creamy before the chili kicks in a moment later to deliver a punch of heat.

Bar Sugo TorontoThe most scandalous pizza offering is Lil Manila ($28), which dares to boldly commit the sin of putting pineapple on pizza.

Created by in-house chef "Lil J" (who originally hails from Manila), this Filipino-Canadian-Italian concoction may be blasphemous to some but is drop-dead delicious.

It's a grown-up Hawaiian pizza that ditches the tame sweetness of ham in favour of bacon, pepperoni, and jalapeno, which deliver a more intense sweet-n-salty complexity – and some bite too.

Bar Sugo TorontoIf that wasn't enough of a neighbourhood love vibe, the giant brick oven that every pizza is baked in incorporates bricks Joerin salvaged from the demolition of his old high school, Ursula Franklin Academy, just down the street on sugo ownersThe oven itself is a big defining feature of the Bar Sugo space. Above it, you'll notice a framed icon of Jesus overlooking the whole restaurant. More than just Catholic kitsch, it has actually been a bit of a talisman for the owners. 

Joerin found it at a church bazaar at St Anthony's at Bloor and Dovercourt years ago when looking for a little gift for co-owner, Wallen. When he noticed the piece, he saw that it was inscribed, "1279 Bloor Street West” – the very address of their space. Shocked by the coincidence, he bought it on the spot. 

bar sugo torontoUpon receiving it, Wallen, the religious one of the two, thought it was a sure sign from God. It has been with them from the humble opening of Sugo right through to this new expansion, where it found a spot of honour in the design. Even Joerin has to admit, he feels it's got some special power.  

(Aside, it turns out the 1279 Bloor Street West space used to be an Italian grocer that did free deliveries in the neighbourhood. So, the Jesus icon that once lived there has returned home.)

Bar Sugo TorontoSomewhere between Jesus and the front entrance, sits a stocked bar offering a selection of featured cocktails.

Bar Sugo TorontoThe 2867 Cocktail ($15) is a hat tip to Junction bar, Hole in the Wall. This one riffs off HITW's gin cocktail, Bin & Gitters, with Bar Sugo's fitting addition of Italian maraschino.

Bar Sugo TorontoA trendy choice and natural fit for this menu is the Espresso Martini ($14). Made with a gorgeous layer of Kahlua foam, not only is this drink photogenic, but it essentially tastes like a liquid tiramisu. Dangerous!

Bar Sugo TorontoSpeaking of Tiramisu ($10), yes, you can get Sugo's most popular dessert at Bar Sugo as well. Even though they released the recipe online during the pandemic so folks could get their fix at home, there seems to be no shortage of demand for this just-like-mamma-used-to-make classic. 

With huge portions, quality ingredients, good prices and familial energy in the space, Bar Sugo doesn't feel like a new restaurant but an old neighbourhood mainstay that's been around forever.

Bar Sugo TorontoI suspect Bloordale residents will be making sure that's exactly what it becomes.

Photos by

Fareen Karim

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