Gusto 54 Restaurant Group is set to launch the curbside patio of its newest restaurant, Azhar Kitchen + Bar, this Thursday, June 24. Located at 96 Ossington Ave., the restaurant officially opened as a marketplace and neighbourhood gathering spot in December 2020 and has since been patiently awaiting the return of patio season in anticipation of reopening.
Serving up soulful Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East-inspired dishes, the restaurant has an intimate feel and an impressive wood-fired grill in the middle of the open-style kitchen. Created by chef Stuart Cameron who oversaw the culinary programs at hotspots like Patria and Byblos, the menu features classics like oysters, babaganoush and lamb ribs as well as fresh and modern twists like oven-roasted cauliflower with almond cream and pistachios. Other highlights include Mujadara Rice, Wagyu Shish, and Manti Dumplings with harissa and date.
“Azhar is to be a culmination of deep love and respect for the simplicity and freshness of Old World cooking combined with our own imaginative twists,” a statement from the restaurant group reads. “Ingredient sourcing is paramount to Azhar’s menu where fresh produce from local farmers and imported spice blends are showcased across each of the small plates – each designed for sharing.”
The restaurant is led by CEO and owner of Gusto 54 Janet Zuccarini, whose portfolio includes Toronto favourites like Trattoria Nervosa, Gusto 101 and 501, Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen and Pai. Azhar Kitchen + Bar will also feature an eclectic offering of beverages like cocktails featuring tea syrups, dried flowers and house fermentations, a fresh and seasonal wine list and some local craft beers.
Azhar’s marketplace offers a wide variety of rare and decadent Middle East-inspired pantry items like sweet date molasses, Turkish coffee, and pistachio dukkah made from pistachio, white sesame, coriander, maldon, black pepper, rose petals, and nigella. You can also order from the marketplace using Door Dash.
The team at Azhar is looking forward to joining the lively Ossington strip patio scene after a long winter of waiting for pandemic restrictions to be loosened. The patio will be open every Wednesday to Sunday from 5 p.m. to close, while the marketplace will remain opening during the day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tables will be available by reservation only, visit azhartoronto.com to learn more or make a reservation.