Piccolo e Vino menu item

Toronto getting new café and bodega by day, snack bar by night

Piccolo Caffe e Vino will open up shop under the restaurant Melrose On Adelaide

“As soon as we took possession of Melrose On Adelaide, we dreamed of being able to get the downstairs patio for another concept,” says Brian Donnelly, the owner of Melrose on Adelaide. Until recently, the lower level of the building at 270 Adelaide St. But, after the tenant left, Donnelly and his staff saw their chance. Now, Piccolo Caffe e Vino is set to open in the next few days.

Piccolo Caffe e Vino will be a community-based coffee shop that transforms into a snack bar in the evening.

Donnelly and the Melrose on Adelaide management are using the time spent in lockdown to turn the space into a casual and community-based cafe and snack bar dubbed Piccolo Caffe e Vino.

“We’ll have coffee and pastry service all day, and takeout coffee for those who are on the go. In the evening, our food menu comes out and so does the wine,” Donnelly says.

As well as an extensive wine list available for dine-in, Piccolo will be hopping on the bodega and bottle shop trend that has become more popular during the lockdown.

“We will have a permanent bodega and bottle shop inside, as we want to create a space where locals can try amazing, new, funky, organic wines and spirits along with a small selection of other locally made goods,” he says. “A lot of these products aren’t available through the LCBO, so we’re working with distributors to have some new and exciting products — especially in this area. Curating this program has been a lot of fun.”

The idea of community was an important aspect for Donnelly when considering Piccolo’s place in the Adelaide and John area.

“We’ve noticed a small gap that exists in this area where a true local community feel is being missed,” he says. “Most of the surrounding businesses are a little more on the ‘big’ side of things and focus on their everyday hustle.”

Melrose on Adelaide has been open since mid-2018, and Donnelly describes it as “primarily a cocktail bar with a nice old world wine program, that serves Mediterranean-inspired share plates and charcuterie.”

The space features menu items such as beef tartare, mussels, edamame, and a hummus and pita plate, as well as entrées such as ceviche and fried burrata.

The drink menu offers twists on classics such as espresso martinis and margaritas combined with unique cocktail creations. But, the team has a different idea and concept in mind for their new venture, though it will be just downstairs.

Piccolo Caffe e Vino, though, will offer sous-vide pork belly with a pomegranate reduction, slaw-shaved Brussels sprouts with fennel and sunflower seeds, and other dishes that complement the wine offerings.  

“Piccolo Caffe offers a more casual and everyday feel, whereas Melrose is a little more intimate,” says Donnelly, but there will be a certain level of cohesiveness within the spaces. “Both are complementary and both are approachable.”

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO