Bar Prima, Queen West – Toronto, Canada

Bringing to life the darkly shiny opulence of dining rooms of the past was the goal of chef-owners Craig Harding and Julian D’Ippolito when they set out to create Bar Prima in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood.

Toronto-based Future Studio  was entrusted with the owners’ retro ideas and they have delivered a stunning setting. It reflects both an Italian vibe and an “old Toronto diner” feel in its brown panelling, mirrors and gold touches that are enhanced with rich blue upholstery and red velvet drapery.

The star attractions of the vintage visual show, however, are definitely the floor and the ceiling. Bar Prima’s ceiling was gold-leafed by hand by a professional gilder. It is a startling sight that draws everyone’s eyes up in the otherwise low and low-lit space.

The other stunner is the floor. Again, artisans recreated it following a 1960s pattern of marble floor that originally covered the floor of the Rome residence of American artist and sculptor, Cy Twombly (1928-2011).

With the background sound of Italian disco, and a menu of traditional Italian with a twist, Bar Prima is not stuffy or painfully retro. There’s a sense of fun and surprise and innovative thinking that the owners are keen to explore further in this undertaking.

Bar Prima is Harding and D’Ippolito’s second Toronto restaurant following the Dundas Street La Palma. Tuija Seipell

Images Rick O’brien