PARTISANS, a multidisciplinary Canadian studio that views architecture as a vehicle for social change and civic engagement while striving “to make the impossible possible,” has transformed a compact and seemingly unworkable lot of just 30-by-60-feet into an atmospheric, vertically-oriented dining and drinking destination for acclaimed Toronto restauranteur Janet Zuccarini. The soaring multi-level space, Gusto 501, opened earlier this year and is the latest addition to Zuccarini’s growing empire of eateries under the Gusto 54 restaurant group banner.
Replacing a sliver of a parking garage in an industrial swath of Toronto’s Corktown neighborhood, the 280-seat Gusto 501, includes five distinct dining areas spread across four different floors, offering, according to a press release, “new experiences, different sightlines, and culinary programs.”
On the ground level is the main dining room, complete with sidewalk terrace, wood-fired grill, pizza oven, and takeout window. One level up on the mezzanine is an intimate wine bar. The second floor features a sleek cocktail bar and, accessible via bridge, a private chef’s tasting room dubbed Attico with a dedicated kitchen. The glass roof-topped space is crowned with a terrace that affords guests with sweeping views of the Toronto skyline.
With its stacked dining experiences, the slender and mechanical garage lift-evoking space itself, a unique infill project described by the studio as “a challenge to go against the status-quo of restaurant design,” features an immense operable glass window facade (one of the largest in the world, per the studio) framed by weathering steel and terra-cotta walls. While the former material references Gusto 501’s industrial trappings, the latter is a nod to Zuccarini’s Italian heritage (and the cuisine at hand) while also, per the studio, “making a major statement for the interior’s aesthetics.”
As detailed by the studio, the terra-bricks were cut using software models in angles of six different variants to create an “undulating, corbeled effect” that allows for discreetly integrated LED lighting to illuminate the space. PARTISANS noted that the studio “worked closely with a mason to carefully these different block types and in coordinating the details of the integrated lights and electrical conduit, that give Gusto 501 the unique back-lit undulating walls.”
While the space itself is highly photogenic, the cuisine itself at Gusto 501, a bonafide Toronto hotspot since opening, looks just as inviting.