Spice Up Your Nights at Tinto Bar de Tapas on South Bayview in Leaside By Stacia Carlton
When Otta Zapotocky decided to open his Spanish inspired tapas bar across the street from his first South Bayview restaurant L’Avenue, his loyal patrons flocked to witness its birth. They have stayed for the theatre and delightfully inventive dishes. Tinto Bar de Tapas at 1581 Bayview Avenue has a vibrant ambience which is a much needed boost for South Bayview.
Otta and Chef Bobby Leonard are the team which lead the charge at Tinto. The force of their combined personalities are brought to life within the walls of this restaurant, often spilling out onto the patio and even onto South Bayview itself.
Watching the pair together is entertaining to say the least. Their mutual respect is evident but there is also ample good natured taunting which just as quickly reverts to sharing a laugh remembering their early days of working together. Taking part in their conversation is a bit like a being on a roller coaster!
Chef Bobby has come up through the ranks, his bright and brash personality winning him more than one position along the way. The man needs a stage and thankfully for us, he has one at Tinto. At first you may only see his boy next door good looks and larger than life persona , but his affinity for breaking down flavours and giving them definition within each dish is where his true gift lies.
From its inception Tinto has been a restaurant with its own identity built upon the strength of each of Otta and Bobby’s dynamic personalties. The stories they shared with me, many of which are unprintable, kept me most amused, but the once the food started to come out it was all business.
Brussel sprouts with Potatoes and Chorizo. Initially a staff meal which Bobby concocted from ingredients available, but made its way to the permanent menu the moment Otta tried this rich and delicious dish.
Quesadilla Con Polo with Avocado Tomatillo sauce and Romesco salsa. Sharp & smooth in perfect balance.
Seared Scallops with Lime oil and Cilantro. A gift to your mouth.
Sloppy José Sliders made with Iberico ham. Unapologetically salty and unbearably addictive. Seconds would be an excellent decision.
Tuna Tartar with Jicama and the surprising and refreshing addition of Pomegranate.
Calimocho Pork Belly. A common beverage of choice in Spain of red wine and coke which Chef Bobby has creatively turned it into a glaze for the pork belly for a mouth watering finish.
Dulce de Leche Brownie. Edible artwork.
The mischievous attitude of the food served is the spirit of Tinto and that playfulness imbues the very atmosphere of the restaurant. This is instinctive restaurant curation as opposed to any contrived plan. These men are excited about food, they are excited about wine and luckily for us, they are also excited to share it all!
Stacia Carlton is a culinary school graduate and food writer with a fondness for (& frustration with) unprintable stories. Find her weekly at www.bestillandeat.com