Bar Vendetta Toronto: Jen Agg Transforms Black Hoof Into Chic Italian Eatery

Bar Vendetta opened its doors in September 2019 in the old Black Hoof location on Dundas Street West in Toronto.

Celebrated Toronto restauranteur Jen Agg (Rhum Corner, Black Hoof, Le Swan, Grey Gardens) has given the restaurant space a head to toe makeover. Guests can enjoy dinner and drinks at the bar, dining room or covered patio out back.

Jen Agg has tried something new with Bar Vendetta, closing the restaurant on Fridays and Saturdays. The restauranteurs logic? Bill the restaurant as a neighbourhood joint, offering a unique niche that promotes interest in the Dundas West community.

Foodies in the city are aware it’s a rare move for a restaurant to close on weekends. When I visited Bar Vendetta on a weeknight the place was packed, proving when a restaurant caters to its local community it can offer a truly vibrant ambiance.

Jen Agg’s latest restaurant romance is a collaboration with the folks at Le Swan – David Greig, Jake Skakun and James Santon.

The bar and dining room at Bar Vendetta on Dundas Street West in Toronto.
The bar and dining room at Bar Vendetta on Dundas Street West in Toronto.

Bar Vendetta Toronto

After skipping inside Bar Vendetta for the first time it’s impossible not to survey the room and wonder what interior design elements have been updated within the iconic Black Hoof space.

As soon as you step inside the Dundas West restaurant you’re greeted by a slick wooden structure, which dramatically hovers over the bar. It offers a touch of sound dampening, ensuring guests can hear conversation around the dinner table in a lively 40-seat interior.

Jen Agg has dolled up Bar Vendetta with a playful retro theme featuring browns, oranges and white. You’ll also find a Debbie Harry poster over the 15-seat bar and a soundtrack of golden oldies. Agg offers a wink to the Toronto restaurants name with a pair of murals depicting Mad Magazine’s Spy vs Spy. The mischievous black and white cartoon twins enact a wine-themed murder plot from the dining room to the back patio.

Bar Vendetta's covered back patio features potted plants and skylight.
Bar Vendetta’s covered back patio features potted plants and skylight.

Bar Vendetta Drinks

Hop up at the bar and wag your finger through Jen Agg’s expertly curated drinks list. The craft beer list features Miller High Life, Burdock Tuesday Saison, Burdock APA, Mascot Italian Lager and Steel Town Cider Porro.

The Bar Vendetta wine list offers a spattering of various viticultural regions, from the wines of Tuscany, South Africa, France, Spain, Germany, Beamsville, Niagara on the Lake and beyond! Sommelier Jake Skakun has transformed the crawlspace in the restaurant’s basement into a wine cellar. Agg explains, “Everything we serve, including by the glass, will be at the right temperature, thanks to two very tall fridges behind the bar. Too-warm pinot is a major pet peeve of mine.”

Like all of Jen Agg’s culinary outfits, the craft cocktail program is on point and pairs with the restaurants quirky menu. Agg explains, “Basically we are just having fun and doing whatever we want. For example, the bar will serve both highballs and late-night nachos, two items that fall far outside the pasta and wine categories,” she says.

Bar Vendetta Cocktails

  • Cut Out: gin, tonic, neroli
  • Quiet American: vermouth, campari, bubble, la croix
  • Honey Trap: calvados, beeswax, lemon, ginger beer
  • Dry Clean: canadian whisky, soda, eucalyptus
  • Fade Out: fino, calpico, yuzu, lemon balm
  • Double Cross: lillet, peach tea, absinthe, vetiver
  • Provocateur: mezcal, coconut, elderflower, sandalwood
Enjoy fine wine, craft beer and cocktails at Bar Vendetta on Dundas West.
Enjoy fine wine, craft beer and cocktails at Bar Vendetta on Dundas West.

Bar Vendetta Toronto Menu

The menu at Bar Vendetta is simple, broken down into three unique offerings each night. So depending on if you want a sandwich, nachos or pretty pasta, you’ll want to plan the timing of your visit accordingly.

Between 3-5pm the kitchen serves mammoth Muffeletta sandwiches. Imported mortadella, Genoa salami, capicolla, scarmozza, olive tapenade, marinated roasted red peppers and basil are tucked into squares of freshly baked sourdough focaccia.

If you’re looking for a more substantial meal, Bar Vendetta’s main menu featuring salads pasta is served from 5pm-midnight. If you’re enjoying dinner for two we suggest sharing 4-5 dishes off the menu.

A snack-tastic nacho platter is served during the Dundas restaurant’s last two hours of service, until 2am. The drool-worthy nacho platter comes topped with melted scarmozza and cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced tomato, shredded lettuce, red onion and pickled jalapenos.

Bar Vendetta's Bruschetta with smoked ricotta, preserved tomatoes and herbs.
Bar Vendetta’s Bruschetta with smoked ricotta, preserved tomatoes and herbs.

Bar Vendetta Toronto Appetizers

Bar Vendetta is the perfect spot to stop on Dundas West if you’re looking for a quick sip and nibble. Grab a glass of fine wine while sharing a few of Bar Vendetta’s small plates. The kitchen’s brushetta, puntarelle salad and meatballs are perfection.

  • Bread
  • Olives
  • Salumi
  • Bruschetta: smoked ricotta, preserved tomatoes, herbs
  • Puntarelle Salad: pumpkin seeds, lemon, parmesan
  • Tuna Diavolo: chillis, tomato vinegar, fennel
  • Eggplant: pistachio, yogurt
  • Meatballs: tomato sauce, garlic bread
  • Tomato Salad: mint, butter
Plump meatballs are served with tomato sauce and garlic bread.

Bar Vendetta Toronto Pasta

Bar Vendetta is one of the best pasta restaurants in Toronto. If you’re dining with a larger group we suggest ordering every pasta on the menu to find a new favourite. Arrive early to indulge in the restaurant’s signature dish, Crown Cacio e Pepe, as they only prepare a small number each day and they sell out quickly.

  • Corzetti: walnuts, zucchini, parmesan
  • Spaghetti: tomato, basil, ricotta salata
  • Crown Cacio e Pepe
  • Trecce: broccoli, guanciale, mushrooms, taleggio
  • Tagliatelle: nduja, white anchovy

Other Dundas West Restaurants You May Enjoy…

Corzetti are served with walnuts, zucchini and parmesan.
Corzetti are served with walnuts, zucchini and parmesan.
Bar Vendetta's signature dish, Crown Cacio e Pepe.
Bar Vendetta’s signature dish, Crown Cacio e Pepe.

Bar Vendetta Toronto Desserts

Bar Vendetta’s hidden gem is its short but sweet dessert menu. Chef James Santon prepares seasonal and creative flavours of gelato and sorbet, which switch up on the menu regularly.

Chef Santon describes his passion for gelato, “I’ve been making ice cream and deserts for a number of years. I really honed my skills before we opened Bar Vendetta by spending a week in New York working with Brooks Headley at Superiority Burger.”

Santon continues, “We make our gelatos and sorbets on site, focussing on using seasonal and local ingredients. That’s the philosophy behind most of our food. Quality ingredients on a plate. Not too much fuss, our flavours change nearly everyday based on what we have on hand or what is available to me from local purveyors.”

Bar Vendetta’s most popular gelato and sorbet flavours thus far include Focaccia, Tortilla, Pistachio, Coronation Grape, Burnt Maple and Parmesan.

Bar Vendetta prepares freshly made gelato and sorbet.
Bar Vendetta prepares freshly made gelato and sorbet.

Bar Vendetta

Address: 928 Dundas St W Toronto, Ontario M6J 1W3

Website:

  • Opening Hours:

Price Range: $$

Cuisine: Italian

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