WALKERTON – Imagine an Italian restaurant where the chef, servers, host and owners are the same people; where the food is made with love, from locally-sourced ingredients, in the traditional manner; and where you and your family are welcomed with warmth. That’s Ti Amo La Cucina Italiana.
Owned and operated by Brad and Rosa House, with help from their two teenaged sons, the restaurant is located in the heart of downtown Walkerton, at 317 Durham St. E.
The family moved to this area from Baltimore, near Coburg. Brad has roots in the Grey-Bruce area, while Rosa’s parents are Italian. She grew up helping out in the bakery they owned.
They like small towns because they tend to have unique, independent businesses and a sense of community. Rosa said she wanted to raise her sons the way she was raised, learning every aspect of the family business.
By profession she’s a high school teacher who taught culinary arts, among other subjects, and loved it. She also loves the restaurant, and the people she meets every day.
Brad said the decision to move to Walkerton wasn’t made lightly. He and his wife weren’t just looking for a restaurant to run, but a way of life. They enjoy the arts and culture and wanted a sense of community.
“We looked for the right community, the right business, from Windsor to Nova Scotia,” he said.
And they found the perfect combination at the former TK’s in downtown Walkerton.
When people step in the doors, they can expect to see art on the walls – the place is a gallery that showcases and supports local talent as well as a restaurant. The art is for sale.
The atmosphere is elegant – they completely renovated the place to put their unique touch on it. At the same time, it’s family-oriented. Alcohol isn’t served – their two “servers” aren’t old enough, and service is café-style – customers put in their order, and the food is brought to their table or packaged for take-out.
Prices are reasonable. Said Rosa, “Good food need not be expensive.” Everything is made onsite, from fresh ingredients. Brad hopes to eventually have a seasonal menu.
“We share the culture, too,” she said.
Someone ordering a particular item may get a suggestion on a dish that complements it. And if they want a certain dish that’s not on the menu, because everything is made fresh, there are possibilities, she said.
“We make everything to order,” Brad said.
That means hot and delicious, but not necessarily fast.
At the moment, they’re not accepting reservations, but they welcome friendly greetings and conversations.
So far they’ve found the community very welcoming, although they anticipate business might slow down once the “newness” wears off.
The menu will be changing over the coming weeks as they find out what people like and want, but the quality will only improve as they develop contacts with more local suppliers. And Rosa has plans for the future that may involve her teaching talents – workshops, classes and special events.
For now, the restaurant is open four days a week – Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. They need the other days to prepare food.
“Quality takes time,” they said.
Check out their menu online, and plan to visit soon.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times