The Bell and The Beacon

The Bell & The Beacon

The Bell & The Beacon opened its doors in Parkdale in late October of last year. 

The multi-hyphenate restaurant-pub-patio replaced the longstanding pizza joint Amico's, which closed last spring after 45+ years of business, to the disappointment of many in Parkdale and beyond. 

The Bell & The Beacon is taking cues from its predecessor and sister restaurant, Skyline in its community-centric approach. A mural inside even honours the site's former owners.The Bell and The BeaconCo-owners, Maggie Ruhl, Darrah Mackenzie and Sean Santos are each residents of Parkdale and self-proclaimed food industry "for-lifers."

Ruhl, somewhat of a serial restauranteur, was the former owner of The Ace and the Dakota Tavern and currently co-owns Skyline with her brother. Santos is a co-owner of Saints Island Pies, formerly in Brockton Village.

The Bell and The BeaconAs for Mackenzie, "I've been in this industry since I was 15. I've loved the business ever since I was a teenager," she explains.

Ruhl, Mackenzie and Santos bonded while working together at Skyline. "Not only are we really good friends, but we've worked together for several years," says Ruhl on the partnership. 

The Bell and The BeaconWhen the trio discovered the former Amico's site was for sale, they seized the opportunity to start a venture together. "Finally we said, 'let's do it—now or never,'" recounts Ruhl.

The Bell and The Beacon"We really loved the idea that it was ultimately three spaces," explains Ruhl.

Downstairs is a restaurant: The Bell. Upstairs is a pub and music venue: The Beacon Room—and out back is a patio space. 

The Bell and The BeaconA unique slice of Toronto history is the inspiration for these names.

In 1954, Toronto-born Marilyn Bell became the first person to swim across Lake Ontario at the age of 16. Bell landed on the coast of Sunnyside, the exact spot is visible from the roof of The Bell & The Beacon. 

"We really wanted [the name] to be something historically Parkdale," explains Ruhl. "The Bell is after Marilyn and the Beacon is the beacon of light that she probably saw when she reached the coast of Parkdale."

The Bell and The BeaconThe outdoor patio space is eclectic with its mismatched chairs, quirky selection of artwork and Christmas lights strung along the fence walls.

While The Bell has the cozy feel of a bistro with the candlelight and red checkered tablecloths. 

The Bell and The Beacon

Past a little wooden gate and up a flight of stairs is the Beacon Room, which is home to an array of local draft beers and live music every Wednesday night. 

The Bell and The BeaconThe sultry lighting, grand piano and poster of Jesse James above the bar make the upstairs enclave feel like somewhat of a Prohibition-era watering hole.

"She parties real well, that room," jokes Mackenzie.
The Bell and The Beacon

Ruhl explains they were "trying to cover that 70s pub-tavern vibe” with The Beacon. This is evident in the rock n' roll tracks featured on the jukebox. 

The Bell and The BeaconSitting down at The Bell, I was lucky enough to sample some delicious drinks and Italian-inspired eats.
The Bell and The Beacon

The first drink I tried was a Tequila Pete ($14). The mixture of pineapple bitters, pineapple juice, simple syrup, tequila and cava made for a perfect summertime cocktail.

The Bell and The Beacon

Another bar staple at The Bell & The Beacon are their $10 Negronis, which apparently draw quite a crowd. A patron sitting at the bar told me she'd already had one.

This drink's conservative price makes it even more of a classic. 

The Bell and The Beacon

The Cassis Margarita ($16) was the last drink I tried. The mix of tequila, triple sec, cassis, lime juice and simple syrup with a delicate trace of salt on the rim, was sweet—but not too sweet.

The sugary blackcurrant liqueur was balanced out by the hint of salt and sour wedge of lime. 

The Bell and The Beacon

Head chef, Santos aims to mix "comfort, classics and creativity" in The Bell's food menu. 

The Fig Crostini ($15) was a decadent appetizer to start off the meal. Thick slices of sourdough bread were topped with lemon ricotta, sliced fig, pomegranate seeds and sprigs of mint and bathed in a wash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. 

The Bell and The BeaconThe Bell has several sandwiches options, each made using freshly baked pizza dough as the sandwich bread. The Morty ($21) is Ruhl's favourite thing on the whole menu. 

I can see why. The roasted Mortadella lunch meat, smoked provolone, ricotta, arugula and garlic sauce made for an incredible sub. The pickled bell pepper, cauliflower, carrot and celery on the side was a nice take on coleslaw. 

The Bell and The BeaconLike its predecessor, The Bell has several brick oven pizzas on the menu. With the classic Margherita ($22), you can't go wrong.
The Bell and The BeaconIf you're looking to try something a little more experimental, The Bell's take on a Hawaiian Pizza ($26) with ham, pineapple, dollops of ricotta and a drizzle of pineapple syrup on top was light and delicious. The Bell and The BeaconThe ½ Grilled Chicken ($26) with shishito peppers, pickled banana peppers and marinade of onion chili adobo was tender and juicy. 

The Bell and The Beacon

The Spicy Tomato Rigatoni ($17) is accented by spicy Italian peppers with a medium level of spice. For $6, you can add meatballs to make it a bit more filling. 

This is definitely a safe option on the menu that even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy—given you can tolerate a little spice.
The Bell and The BeaconOverall, all three spaces under The Bell & The Beacon's roof are individually great—each offering a unique experience. You can grab a casual drink on the patio, enjoy a romantic dinner inside, or catch some live music upstairs. 

Next time you're in Parkdale, take a loved one or friend to enjoy one of the city's most multi-functional dining and entertainment spots. The Bell and The BeaconThe Bell & The Beacon is located at 1648 Queen St. West. 

Photos by

Fareen Karim

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