For generations, Roberto Marotta’s family lived in Milazzo, a port town on the northeast coast of Sicily that looks out to the Aeolian Islands, a jeweled necklace in the blue Tyrrhenian Sea. Roberto’s love of food, like his gentle smile, was passed down to him here – a gift as much of place as of family.
Seeing his mother prepare food – fresh from the sea and fresh from the land – eventually inspired Roberto and his brother Alessandro to open a restaurant on the water in Milazzo called Mood.
Jacqueline Nicosia, whose family are from Sicily and still have an apartment there, arrived in Milazzo after teaching in Japan. It was to be a layover, a place for her to decompress before heading back home to Canada.
What did she notice first? The delicious cuisine or the handsome young chef who surely would have noticed her? The truth is that it doesn’t matter. Because there’s no great distance between our love of food and our love for one another.
Four months after Jacqueline returned home, Roberto arrived to begin a new life in Canada that included an intensive study of the fresh produce, meats and seafood available here. At the same time, he maintained and expanded his relationships with the finest Sicilian producers.
While Torontonians were familiar with fine Italian food, they were relatively unfamiliar with Sicilian cuisine. As the chef of two start-up restaurants here, Roberto consistently delighted his diners with the delicate flavours of his homeland...
As Chef Roberto’s reputation grew, it was inevitable that he would eventually open his own restaurant. And it was his son, who at two years old, provided the inspiration for its name. Unable to say ‘Leonardo,’ he’d say clearly his name was, “Ardo.”
ARDO Restaurant is a reflection of love and family, and the journey from Milazzo to Toronto.