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Big-Time Torino’s

European eatery goes from tiny to table service

June 24, 2009, 12:00 am

In the two years they have toiled in the wackadoodle bistro space in the even funkier Santa Fe Village mall on Don Gaspar Avenue, Daniela and Maxime Bouneou have crafted a good-food haven amid the hustle and bustle of downtown’s copious haunts.

Torino’s@Home’s current location is rather like a rabbit warren, mostly situated in a large hallway and tucked away from natural light. During peak hours, the spot can get crowded, as news of the restaurant’s menu has spread far and wide.
Back in March, the Bouneous considered expanding from five days a week to seven.

“We weren’t sure we were ready,” Maxime tells SFR, “but a friend needed a job, so we hired him and, in order to pay him, we said we’d stay open seven days and see how that worked. That lasted about two months. We had to stop; we were too exhausted.”

Instead, the Bouneous have come up with an alternative way to provide more customers with more Torino’s.

The couple is currently in the process of expanding the restaurant into the space adjacent to the current location in order to provide more seating. A recent lunchtime visit reveals the new space has been dressed up with fresh yellow paint and is bright and cheery. In addition to the physical expansion, the restaurant will employ its first waitperson and offer an updated menu.

In other words, despite the national recession, Torino’s is taking the next step.

“We do have a little bit of apprehension,” Maxime says, “but we offer a good quality and affordable product, and we are pretty successful.”

As for the food itself, it has been the cornerstone of the restaurant’s success. Daniela hadn’t cooked professionally until the couple opened their restaurant, although she attended culinary school in her native Italy and managed the front end of Chocolate Maven when the couple moved to Santa Fe. By opening Torino’s, Daniela was able to pursue her true passion: cooking.

That passion translated into homemade pastas and delectable sandwiches that keep locals and tourists alike chronically pleased. After all, few pleasures in life match the unique sensation of biting into a strand of fresh handmade pasta; it’s slightly chewy, almost sticky, always soft and voluptuous. Torino’s sandwiches—whether pre-composed like the cold Pan-Bagnat (imagine a hand-held Salade Niçoise) or self-imagined like my dreamy modified-Milanese chicken panino with goat cheese and ratatouille—always satisfy.

Updates to the menu, Maxime explains, are in response to clientele requests. So customers’ favorite daily specials, such as beef stew and duck confit, which regularly sell out, will be offered as staples.

Furthermore, Maxime, who after a successful culinary career in France got his start in Santa Fe as a pastry chef at La Posada, will return to those sweet roots with a more developed breakfast menu: omelets, granola, croissants, sweet breads, pain au chocolat and his favorite, fresh-toasted Italian bread.

When asked how they will handle the added work such changes bring, Daniela and Maxime laugh heartily together, and Maxime references the attempted seven-day work week.

“We nearly divorced! Several times. But we divorce about once a month. I think all married couples that work together do that, no? I hope! Otherwise, we’re terrible!”

Yes, it’s too early to tell how the summer will go for Torino’s—its expansion celebration is slated for July 24— but if the last two years are any indication, business will be

“We’re doing something new,” Maxime says, “and everything new that you throw yourself into, there’s a lot of stress and things that come to mind. But I’m pretty confident. I’m sure it will work well.”

Breakfast 8:30-10:30 am
Lunch 10:30 am-4 pm
Closed Weekends

3-6 pmFriday, July 24
227 Don Gaspar Ave. (inside Santa Fe Village)


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