Paradise Theatre got a bit of a raw deal when it opened on Bloor Street West in late 2019. With barely a moment to establish itself, prolonged lockdowns clouded the Art Deco cinema's opening glory and saw the venue go from a full-scale entertainment hub to a bottle shop and grocery clinging on to hopes of a brighter future.
Osteria Rialto, the venue's flagship restaurant helmed by chef Jesse Serratore, has shed its pandemic skin and come back even stronger. This year, the Bar Raval alumni unveiled a brand-new menu of Italian flavours with classic components and twists on tradition. The decadent dishes have revitalized the Paradise complex with a little taste of Italy.
Paradise's collection of great spaces — from a speakeasy vibes cocktail lounge on the first floor to the casual ground-floor Café Paradise, serving croissants and cappuccinos — offers guests a chance to stay, play and completely lose track of time. We take a spin around the reimagined cinema venue, stopping for plenty of sips and snacks along the way.
Paradise Theatre on Bloor: Osteria Rialto
Inspired by his Southern Italian heritage, Serratore's simple dishes utilize Tuscan, Ligurian and Roman traditions. The menu is broken into four sections: antipasti and sputini (snacks), handmade pasta, larger plates like chicken cutlet and pork chop to share, plus salads and veggie side dishes. Osteria Rialto's ethos is all about sharing and ordering a little of everything to wet your whistle. We sample stuffed zucchini flowers, delicate croquettes, spicy lamb rigatoni and chicken cutlet in a button mushroom and black truffle sauce.
The wine list is in fine form (in fact, Osteria Rialto is a Wine Spectator recipient) with skin contact, sparkling and reserve bottles to choose from. Italy is well represented, but there are plenty of crisp whites from Germany and Austria, plus some beefy Burgundian and Californian reds to round out Tuscan and Neopolitan flavour profiles. Save room for the Dolci menu, lush with tiramisu, tortes and an impressive showing of amaro, grappa and brandy.
Paradise Theatre on Bloor: Blue Door Wine Shop
Located on the ground floor of the Paradise Cinema, Blue Door Wine Shop is an emporium of rare and unexpected gems from around the world. Grab a seat at the bar or at the cozy communal table in the 'wine library' and let the friendly staff give you recommendations based on your mood and preferences. Snack on their yummy menu of small plates while you sip something funky and Australian, or try a sommelier-guided tasting (uncovered or blind) of their expansive range of international and unique bottles.
Paradise Theatre on Bloor: Bar Biltmore
End your evening with a nightcap at Bar Biltmore, an elegant cocktail lounge with speakeasy vibes and views of Bloor Street. House creations, like the Piña Quemada, with charred pineapple-infused mezcal, or the Cinema Paradiso, with popcorn-infused bourbon, are tremendous options for a pre-show tipple (you can also keep hunger at bay with next-level nibbles like sourdough, olives, cheese and conservas). However, when I grab a seat at one of the leather bar stools, the only thing that feels right at this Art Deco drinking den is ordering a classic manhattan, expertly whipped up by the bartender.
Paradise Theatre on Bloor: What else
If you're looking for casual bites, coffee and baked goods, head to Café Paradise on the ground floor of Paradise Cinema. Open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., this cheerful cafe is a fun spot for brunch and burgers, plus their fridge is stocked with local goodies like Piano Piano pizza.
With a rich history dating back to 1910, the 220-seat theatre has kept the tradition alive with a full schedule of films and live performances. Go old-school with movies from Hollywood's golden age, catch Toronto premieres and Q&A panels, or take in a candlelight tribute to artists like Queen and Taylor Swift.