Investigators on Sunday picked through the rubble of two popular Italian restaurants destroyed by fire on Christmas Day, but warned it could be days or weeks before the fire marshal is able to come to any firm conclusions about the blaze.
Sotto Sotto, an intimate restaurant well-loved by the celebrity set — especially during the Toronto International Film Festival — was gutted by a three-alarm fire on Thursday. Spuntini Ristorante & Bar, which sits above Sotto Sotto, was also severely damaged.
“From the outside, it doesn’t look as bad. Most of the brick is still up,” said Toronto Fire Captain Mike Strapko. “But the roof collapsed into the interior. The interior has collapsed and the structure has slipped down.”
Heavy equipment is being used to pick away at some of the heavier remnants of the building, which will allow investigators to determine the fire’s cause and, crucially, it’s source.
“It’s going to be a slow process,” he said. “The investigators are still in there now. This is considered to be in the early stages of the investigation.”
It could be days, even months, before officials determine the cause of the fire.
Sotto Sotto owner Marisa Rocca promised to rebuild the landmark eatery in a Boxing Day statement: “We are heartbroken over the loss of our restaurant that has been a part of the Yorkville neighbourhood, history and culture for more than 22 years,” it wrote.
Sotto Sotto opened to middling reviews in 1993, but soon became a popular spot for celebrities visiting Toronto on the film festival circuit.
Pictures of celebrities enjoying a meal at the eatery first started popping up in the gossip pages only months after it first opened.
It was beloved for its intimate, tucked-away vibe and was known as a good place to stake out expensive cars, which were frequently parked on the street in front of the entrance.
The loss of the restaurant has already been bemoaned by TV personality Kevin O’Leary and rapper Drake.
Other famous clientele have included Oprah Winfrey, Johnny Depp, Whoopi Goldberg and Anthony Hopkins.
The 116A Avenue Rd. destination was tucked inside a historic brick building that sat just a few blocks north of some of the city’s major hotels.