Any way you slice it, PZA Restaurant is a totally cool homage to Italy

Any way you slice it, PZA Restaurant is a totally cool homage to Italy

PZA Restaurant is a distinctive, authentic Italian restaurant unique to the burgeoning culinary scene north of Toronto. The passionate first-time restaurant clients wanted their wholehearted Italian personalities to be reflected in the design. Known for their welcoming hospitality and traditional Italian menu, the PZA brand is unapologetically proud of its heritage which is celebrated in the food, art, and design of the space. 

Interior Designers: Keith Rushbrook, ARIDO; Dan Menchions, ARIDO

Design Firm: II BY IV DESIGN

Photographer: David Whittaker

With a total area of 4,200 square feet, our team provided a viable solution to the design, construction, operational efficiency, and overall space challenges. The design concept was inspired using food and pop culture to retell the story of traditional Italian values. We worked closely with the client to refine and elevate the original concept by creating a visually impactful space that celebrates Italian culture. 

Our design team worked to implement highly innovative customer experience strategies to improve the overall service. This included optimizing circulation spaces to maximize seating, and areas that blended beauty and functionality effortlessly into a carefully crafted ambience. The interior is a study of contrasts: original artwork and dark high-end design finishes with a confident composition of colour. 

Cool blues and bold reds were set against a slightly raw industrial background, while being accented by strategic lighting. An underlying foundation of the design was important in specifying the right products for an urban yet sensual feel. This was comparable to the restaurant’s attention to sourcing the best ingredients for its menu.

The humble restaurant proudly exhibits two incredible large-scale art installations: a wooden pizza peel ceiling sculpture, and an energetically bold graffiti mural. Both pieces embrace the essence of Italian culture, the love of food and life which epitomize the soul of the space. Turn your gaze up from any seat in the restaurant and you’ll see the 112-piece custom-designed paddle installation inspired by the lifecycle of a pizza peel. 

Unobstructed views of the 25-feet-long Sophia Loren graffiti mural by Anthony Ricciardi, a contemporary artist with an international profile, demonstrates the iconic Hollywood actress’s significance as a symbol of Italian food and culture. Sophia Loren symbolizes the passion, dedication, and tenderness in the social act of coming together to enjoy food.

Lower your gaze, and you will find a dining surface with #PZARESTAURANT engraved on each tabletop throughout the space, astutely tapping in to diner’s newly established instinct to snap a pic and post to the ‘gram before digging in. 

Through bold artistic gestures, earthy textures, rich warm shades and materials with tasteful Italian references, PZA maintains the signature relaxed but lively atmosphere that brings together all generations of family. 

The success of the project was found in the welcoming atmosphere and warmth felt in every corner of the restaurant. The essence of how food and life are meaningfully intertwined is what fuels the dynamism of the restaurant. In the famous words of Mrs. Loren, “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” Everything you see in the design of this magnetic space is owed to the passion and devotion for creating remarkable, lasting impressions.

PZA Restaurant was awarded an ARIDO Award of Merit in 2019

Keith Rushbrook

More from this author

Keith Rushbrook

II BY IV Design

view profile


  • ARIDO Award: Elevator Cabs

    ARIDO Award: Elevator Cabs

    The challenge of this elevator cab redesign was to create a mobile portal between a well-aged ground floor lobby that would seamlessly integrate with each of the floors above. Category: DISTINCT Inter ...

  • ARIDO Award: The Hive

    ARIDO Award: The Hive

    The first of its kind in Canada, this 3D printed masonry wall is the result of a collaboration between design professionals, students, and faculty at an Ontario university. Category: CRAFT Interior De ...

  • ARIDO Award: Florette Restaurant + Bar

    ARIDO Award: Florette Restaurant + Bar

    While interior designers traditionally aim for perfection in their projects, this design team chose to highlight the imperfect, comforting aspects of this new restaurant space on Toronto’s Queen Str ...