Toronto's love for Latin American cuisine has become more refined as of late. Forget the taqueria craze of 2012. Enter Mata Petisco Bar, the newly minted Parkdale kitchen specializing in Brazillian inspired shareable plates. A formidable team of five— Brazilian-born chefs Felipe Faccioli and Tulio Lessa, Muskoka native chef Patrick Fraser, and front of house managers Steve Fernandez and Sharath Dwarkanathan— have banded together to bring a collage of culinary flavours and some South American hospitality to the end of the West Queen West strip. Here, Fernandez and Fraser talk about what Mata truly means to them.
What was the inspiration behind Mata?
SF: Our concept evolved from a small, snack type eatery to a full-scale operation. In still keeping with a small plates theme we came up with petisco (sharing style) dishes that pull from the South American and Canadian roots we share.
Describe the food in one sentence.
PF: South American comfort food with modern flair.
Explain a bit about your backgrounds, how did you all come together?
PF: While I am Canadian, both Tulio and Felipe were born and raised in different parts of Brazil. Their backgrounds and experiences in Brazil and other parts of South America provided excellent knowledge and foresight into each one of our menu items. I personally love getting involved in the culture and cuisine of an area that I am not normally exposed to and seeing how it can fit into current trends active here. Whether that means using traditional South American ingredients to comprise a traditional Canadian dish (Cassava Poutine), or taking more mainstream North American ingredients and presenting them in a manner more in line with Southern American styles (Beef and Egg Pastel).
What type of atmosphere are you promoting at Mata?
SF: The atmosphere is simple and to the point. Unpretentious, easy going, comfortable place where people will still be served with high standards but in a very relaxed, easy going, intimate ambiance. We want people to stay a while, enjoy the conversation, delight with the food and leave with a memorable experience.
Who designed the space and what's your favourite part of the restaurant?
SF: Ian Rydberg of Solid Build & Design (Valdez, La Carnita, Home of the Brave, etc.) was our principle designer and the team had a lot of natural input. My favourite part is our back bar made from vintage apple crates and our green corrugated backlit under-bar. I also love our repurposed, refinished, barn wood bench back. Oh, and our cool bathrooms – go check out our cool bathrooms!
What has the reception been like from Torontonians over the past month?
SF: The reception has been outstanding and overwhelmingly unexpected, especially from local Parkdalians. We've been embraced for being something refreshingly new, yet accepted as a natural integration into the community, as opposed to just another "business" trying to capitalize on Parkdale's 'trendy place to be' wave.
Do you have a favourite menu item?
PF: Beef Cheek Poutine (big surprise, the Canadian picks poutine...)
FF: Grilled Octopus
TL: Picanha Sliders
You've just started brunch— what can diners expect?
SF: Brunch is gonna be along the same lines of creativity of our regular menu. Smoked beef cheek benedicts to breakfast poutine made with cassava fries, to our signature açai granola bowl. Expect our Cachacaesar to be on offer as well as pineapple/coconut mimosa and a couple of more surprises on the cocktail list. Oh and yes, we finally got our coffee machine, so espressos for everyone!
Will the menu stay the same or can diners expect changes?
PF: Diners can definitely expect changes. We plan on keeping the menu seasonal and doing overhauls roughly every three or four months with new, fresh, fun ingredients to work with.
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[Photos: Jason Finestone]