Johnny Farina - Dino & Anthony
Why did Johnny Farina open on Elgin Street?
We felt this end of Elgin had potential, the proximity to (at that time) the biggest square footage building in Ottawa Place Bell was under serviced. Also NAC goers needed another option for pre event dining.
10 years ago you doubled your space to open the Deli. How has Elgin Street made the Deli such a huge success?
Johnny Farina Express is open Monday to Friday 11am to 3pm. The quick service allowed people on the run to also have a healthy option, back then the term “California Salad Bar” was hot. Now we deliver to a 6 block radius, via Adam Santina, from Santini delivery. Most mornings we pump out 8-10 deliveries.
You have a fairly extensive wine list. What was the inspiration to curate such a selection?
We’ve always branded ourselves as a casual Italian eatery. offering a variety … wines and other high…end spirits gives us the opportunity to create a cozy bar / lounge area for the after work crowd.
If an Elgin Street resident had never been to Johnny Farina's before what dish would you recommend they try first?
Oh! Tough one, can’t really go wrong the old school Margherita pizza, real simple: fresh house made sauce, mozzarella, topped with extra virgin olive oil and basil! Our Pastas are literally house made daily on site. The hand rolled gnocchi is truly amazing BUT, leave room for our city famous Tiramisu!
What does it mean to you to be part of the Elgin Street collection?
Elgin st offers a bit of everything, retail shops, restaurants, tailors, pharmacy, florists, heck you still get your watch fixed while you wait. None of that “come back next week, we need to ship it out” and now with the exiting buzz of #IDigElgin things will even get better. Look around at the longevity of businesses.
When you aren't busy running the restaurant and deli what do you do for fun?
My therapy is working on my rental units, it clears the mind.
How difficult is life balance with a restaurant and maintaining personal/family time?
Anthony and I have been at it for 21 years. (October 27th 1997) we’ve been fortunate to have fantastic family support starting from our wives Selina and Melody. Over the years, several family member worked with us also, today my son is with us, and two cousins. I’m sure there will be more to come.
How many wood fired pizzas do you serve per day?
Wood fired ovens are kept at high temp. 700-800 degrees. Pizza cooks within 2-3 minutes, we typically pump out 160-180 pizzas a day. The oven is also used for other dishes.
Do you have a favourite memory after all this time on Elgin?
The Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Stanley cup series pops out…I do get a kick when seniors come in and tell me stories about the ELGIN THEATER. Fun fact, Elgin theater was the first dual theater in Canada and prior to that it was a bomb dept.
As a business owner what is your greatest accomplishment?
Our greatest accomplishment, hands down, would be the celebration of our 20th anniversary. a HUGE accomplishment in this industry.
Last question. Why do you dig Elgin?
I dig Elgin much, our family is relocating to Elgin.