You have probably realized by now that I spend the majority of my spare time in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood. Over the years I have had a chance to check out a number of the different hospitality establishments in the Beach, and one of my favourites is Nevada’s Ristorante. Centrally located at the intersection of Queen Street and Kenilworth Avenue, it is an easy walk up from the Boardwalk; its appealing warm décor and the colourful murals inside and on the outside of the building create a unique ambience. But even more important is the food, and I have always enjoyed the culinary offerings at Nevada’s.
Mural’s adorn Nevada’s Ristorante
So I decided to make the call and find out who is behind this fine establishment. I arranged an interview with Chris Housseas, co-owner of Nevada’s restaurant, and on a chilly Friday evening at 6 pm I had a chance to sit down with Chris for an interview, just before the evening rush was going to start. His mom Dimitra, nicknamed Toula, joined us and pitched in to give me the story of the Housseas family.
Chris grew up in the restaurant business. His father Gus, a Greek immigrant, started his first restaurant in Canada in 1961, long before Chris was born. Even earlier than that, at age 17 he had embarked into restaurant ownership back home in Greece. After his arrival in Canada he moved back and forth between his birth country and Canada several times. During one of these trips back to his home country he met Chris’ mom in 1976, and they fell in love. Shortly thereafter Chris was born, and in 1978 the whole family, including the parents, two sisters and a brother, moved to Canada.
Dimitra and Chris Housseas
Originally Gus had worked as a dishwasher and server. Once he came to Toronto he owned several fast food outlets, including a Dairy Freeze outlet near St. Clair and Caledonia. Various other fast food establishments followed near Bloor and Christie, and he added a Steak Queen near Rexdale and Martin Grove Avenues to his hospitality portfolio. Both the parents and Chris joined together as a team to buy Nevada’s in 2004. Nevada’s has a long tradition in the Beach, and Chris said that it has been around for about 50 years now.
A beautiful mural in the main floor dining room
Chris explained that the cuisine at Nevada’s Ristorante is a mixture of Californian and Italian-style cooking with a dash of Asian influences and several New Orleans style dishes. The signature dishes at this restaurant are the Pollo Gorgonzola which includes chicken, penne and mushrooms in a gorgonzola sauce. The New Orleans inspired Bourbon Street Ribs are in the oven for two and a half hours and get coated in a delicious honey garlic sauce.
The upstairs dining room