Bar Ardo slings cheeky Sicilian cocktails, mocktails and snacks on King East

Sister spot to Ardo restaurant, Bar Ardo is a Sicilian-inspired cocktail bar on King Street East with an entire drink menu that's a nod to the owners’ Southern Italian roots.

Bar Ardo cocktail bar on King East | Cocktails at Bar Ardo

Not many restaurants have siblings, but Bar Ardo, and its predecessor, Ardo, aren’t ordinary — they are some of the best restaurants in Toronto. Here, at the new Sicilian-inspired cocktail bar on King Street East, run by wife-and-husband team Jacqueline Nicosia and chef Roberto Marotta, family is a common theme.

“Roberto asked me out on many dates, and I was like ‘No, no,’” laughs Nicosia as she regales me with the co-owners’ origin story. “It’s a small town,” she says of Milazzo in Sicily where the pair first met. She succumbed to his charms, and the couple moved to Toronto where they have since created a mini empire of Italian restaurants comprised of Dova, Ardo and now Bar Ardo.

Bar Ardo cocktail bar on King East | Chef Roberto Marotta and Jacqueline Nicosia, the co-owners of Bar Ardo

“We have a much bigger cocktail list at Bar Ardo and a very extensive temperance list,” says Nicosia. Though many of the drinks are riffs on the classics, the warm, terracotta hues and cheeky names tie back to their roots. The Sicilian Storm blends peach with cassis, while Sirocco, its zero-proof equivalent, is a fun play on the eponymous dry (get it?) storms that blow across the Mediterranean.

Though Bar Ardo distinguishes itself as a cocktail bar, you won’t go hungry. “We also like to eat when we go to a cocktail bar,” Nicosia says. Marotta has found new ways to showcase his Sicilian roots, but his Canadian influence is also visible. The Capesante, a bright, Mediterranean-inspired ceviche made with Nova Scotia scallops, is a dual citizen of a dish.

“The menu here is based on my and Roberto’s travels together: everything that has inspired us over the last 15 years, the people we’ve met, the places we’ve been and the cultures we’ve discovered along the way.” Another constant inspiration is their children. Leonardo, their oldest, struggled to pronounce his full name early on, leading to the beloved nickname ‘Ardo.’ Nicosia admits that her mini food critics helped to create a non-alcoholic cocktail at Ardo, “And they tell us if it’s not done properly.”

Even the menu itself is a nod to family. Nicosia’s nonna is on the front of the cocktail list, smiling with a coupe superimposed in hand. “It’s fun that I get to see her every day.”

Bar Ardo cocktail bar on King East | Pilot Life cocktail at Bar Ardo
Bar Ardo cocktail bar on King East | Pina cocktail at Bar Ardo

Bar Ardo's Cafe e Olio

Espresso is Italy’s after-dinner coffee. When the food coma hits, wake yourself up with Bar Ardo’s spin on the classic espresso martini.

Makes 1

Preparation time 5 minutes

Cooking time 10 minutes

Bar Ardo cocktail bar on King East | Cafe e Olio at Bar Ardo


  • 1½ oz espresso
  • 1½ oz vodka
  • ½ oz Kahlua
  • ¼ oz simple syrup
  • Olive oil, to garnish
  • Maldon salt, to garnish


  1. Start by making the espresso. You can use an espresso machine or a moka pot. Set it aside to cool.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the cooled espresso, vodka, Kahlua and simple syrup. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously for about 10–15 seconds. Make sure to do it with enough force; the shaking incorporates air into the mixture, which will create a frothy and rich foam on top of the cocktail.
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  4. Garnish your espresso martini with a couple drops of olive oil on top of the foam, then sprinkle a pinch of Maldon salt.