Presenting: Mary Lee from Spiaggia Restaurant – A Hospitality Entrepreneur with a Heart for the Arts
We started talking about Spiaggia and the unique features of this fine dining restaurant. Spiaggia is open seven days a week in the evenings from 5 to 11 pm. It has two sitting areas and the area on the north side of the building can be booked for private meetings. Often this room holds special events for up to 20 people.
The cuisine at Spiaggia includes seven different types of pasta dishes, fresh fish, seafood and veal dishes. Spiaggia is part of Eat Smart! – Ontario’s Healthy Restaurant Program, an exclusive program that awards Ontario restaurants that meet high standards in food safety, nutrition and non-smoking seating. Mary Lee added that guests are able to get customized meals that are prepared right in front of them in the open kitchen. Guests always enjoy healthy, fresh food at Spiaggia.
Daily specials at Spiaggia
As we were sitting there Mary Lee told me a couple of humorous stories: in late December she got an out-of-town reservation with a credit card from a prospective restaurant patron in the US. They called a week ahead to reserve a seat for Spiaggia’s New Years Eve dinner event. Mary Lee was wondering what had happened when these customers did not show up. A few days later she got a phone call from a woman in West Virginia who said she was not able to locate Spiaggia’ on Queen Street, but was finally able to find it on Michigan Avenue – in Chicago!
Apparently she had found information about Spiaggia on the Internet and planned to have a nice New Year’s Eve dinner in Chicago, but ended up making the reservation with Spiaggia Trattoria in Toronto!
Even more humorous and unusual is the story behind Mary Lee’s espresso machine. In the 1970s she travelled to Florida with her husband in their Corvette. On the way back home John spotted an unusual object in a shop window in Fort Lauderdale. He made an immediate U-turn and went into the store to inquire about this interesting-looking item.
Mary Lee with the (in)famous espresso machine
It turned out that the object was an espresso machine made in Italy, but the 1970’s was an era before fancy coffee concoctions. When Mary Lee’s husband inquired as to what the object was, the man simply responded in a southern drawl “it makes coffee”. John had to have the espresso machine and ended up buying it for $21,000, which 30 years ago was more money than what he had paid for the Corvette.
He simply had to buy this espresso machine, and because there wasn’t enough space in the car for both Mary Lee and the espresso maker, he dropped her off at the airport and drove home with the espresso machine strapped into the passenger seat sticking out of the roof. Mary Lee laughed and said “I am the only broad who has ever been dumped for an espresso machine”. Today the machine is still used to make coffee.
A colourful appetizer
Mary Lee told me about her attachment to the Beach neighbourhood. She said she loves the area and enjoys taking walks on Queen Street or on the Boardwalk. It is a neighbourhood with a very high quality of life, one of those Toronto neighbourhoods that even have a busy street life on Sundays. She chuckled when she mentioned a popular local saying: “you can’t live in this neighbourhood unless you have a dog or a stroller.” The Beach is indeed very popular with dog owners and young families.
A very delicious Vitello alla Balsamic