Although it may not sound it, Avlyn Gardens is, as Pezzelli puts it, “Totally Italian.” Executive Chef of the restaurant, Andrea Robustino, comes directly from San Giuseppe Vesuviano in Italy, a small town near Naples. He is the mastermind behind the kitchen doors. Pezzelli explains how Chef Robustino naturally possesses the characteristics necessary to run a successful restaurant, as he is responsible for much more than food preparation. Chef Robustino manages everything kitchen related from ordering all the ingredients to managing the staff to creating seasonal menus.
Pezzelli says, “The funny thing is we don’t have an Italian name but we are very Italian in our menu.” Both the lunch and dinner menus include an assortment of dishes; some traditional salads and antipasti and then some very unique dishes.
Pezzelli ensures his restaurant is always preparing with the freshest ingredients that can be found. He is well aware that certain foods are necessary to import from specific regions. Pezzelli imports his cheeses, oils, black and white truffles directly from Italy. “The major thing is to educate the customer,” he says. For example, there is a big difference between a Canadian-made and an Italian-made Mozzarella di Bufala. The price point differs, but not as much as the taste, and at Avlyn Gardens taste is a priority. Pezzelli and Chef Robustino take a healthy and simple approach in creating many of their signature dishes. Most of the vegetables this season will be coming directly from Pezzelli’s homegrown crops in Caledon. Chef Robustino believes that in order to allow the natural flavours of ingredients to come out, he must avoid the use of heavy creams and butter.
The restaurant, celebrating its second anniversary this June, is growing quicker than Pezzelli imagined it would. “In such a short time, the restaurant has exceeded my expectations. There have been other restaurants here that have attempted to take on the Kleinburg scene but failed, leaving behind some negative thoughts and opinions,” he says. This did not stop Pezzelli, he knew his passion would push through the pessimism. “I understand the town because I grew up here,” he says. The quaint historic village has always been his home, even while he was living in other cities. He constantly found himself returning to Kleinburg, no matter where else his life took him. It was where he spent his childhood, which was all the more reason that this town was the ideal place for Pezzelli to build his restaurant and future.
His passion for food stemmed from his father’s previously owned mobile catering business. Family and friends were constantly visiting the house and of course, they always arrived with an appetite. His earliest memory of his interest in food began with him and his older brother helping out their parents when there was company. “My house was the house that everybody came to, so we were always the entertainers.” This experience carried into his adult life. He worked in a few restaurants growing up where he was thrown in all different positions gaining experience in the kitchen, front of the house and anywhere else he was needed. Now, as an owner, he uses his well-developed entertaining skills and experience to maintain relationships with customers ensuring that every visit is always above standards.
It is very evident that the name of the restaurant does not sound Italian, however it holds a special place in Pezzelli’s heart. Avlyn Gardens is inspired by his firstborn child, Avlyn, who is now a big sister to two other siblings. Aven, at one and a half, is the other man of the house and baby number three, Avaya arrived this past May. Gardens refers to the restaurant’s location, which overlooks a treed backyard. It can be enjoyed from a beautiful patio, great for dining ‘al fresco.’ Pezzelli says his home life is growing as rapidly as his restaurant. He juggles work and his three young children with his wife Sabrina, making time management an important factor in maintaining seamless relationships at work and at home.
Being a restaurant owner is no easy task; It may take Pezzelli out of the heat of the kitchen, but it is definitely no walk in the garden. No matter how much time and effort you put in, some things are beyond your control. “Every day is a challenge. There’s always something,” says Pezzelli. However, his calm demeanor allows him to quickly and efficiently handle any issues the moment they arise. From equipment to environmental set backs, the staff is sure to solve the problem giving patrons an uninterrupted quality dining experience.
The well-seasoned and experienced staff provides customers a delightfully smooth meal from first greeting up until departure. The service is always on point delivering recommendations in food selection and drink accompaniments to satisfy anyone’s taste buds. Both the indoor and outdoor atmospheres provide a casual yet elegant dining experience with every table artfully decorated with a crisp tablecloth, sparkling glasses and dark leather chairs. In keeping with providing an excellent evening, there is even valet service available on Fridays and Saturdays to relieve guests of any parking concerns.
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