Some would say it’s the heart of Little Italy, an institution, and a part of history. Cafe Diplomatico (Cafe Dip or the Dip) is more than just an Italian eatery.
It’s a place for everyone to call home. And it’s all in the name.
Diplomatico was named with the intention of being diplomatic: A place where everyone is welcome despite who you are, where you’re from, or what your job is. Owner Rocco Mastrangelo Jr. focused on the diverse community that is at the core of Toronto. Although in the middle of Little Italy on College Street, he wanted to make the Dip a meeting place for everyone, believing that “we’re all the same.”
In 1968, after immigrating from Italy and working in various businesses on College Street, Rocco’s father, Rocco Mastrangelo Sr., decided that the area needed a “typical Italian bar (with) espresso; just to have people come in, shoot the breeze, talk about sports (and) politics – just like in Italy,” Rocco says. It was then that he opened up Bar Diplomatico and it became Toronto’s original European-syle espresso bar. Less than 20 years later, it doubled in size, opened up a kitchen, got a liquor license, and became a full-service cafe and restaurant.
Cafe Diplomatico is, and always has been known for serving delicious, affordable food with “great, unpretentious service” in a comfortable, welcoming environment. They are even diplomatic when it comes to the menu: Fully customizable to suit your specific wants and needs. “Our goal is to make our customers feel like they are at home,” says Rocco. Wait staff won’t pour the wine for you, but they will serve you a “happy-go-lucky attitude,” promising an unforgettable experience.
During the 2006 Euro Cup, Rocco opened his doors as the “headquarters of soccer,” welcoming people from every ethnic group and fanbase to watch the games at his cafe. He partnered with Amsterdam Brewery (also creating Cafe Dip’s own Lager) and Puma Canada. This helped to form their new tagline, “Where Nations Unite.” From street parties and sports celebrations to customer appreciation parties, Rocco is sure to involve everyone.
And as Toronto continues to be a multicultural city, Cafe Diplomatico doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. As long as it continues to be the welcoming spot that we all know and love, the iconic Dip is here to stay.
And for the future of Cafe Diplomatico? Other than sticking with tradition and keeping the business in the family, they just recently opened a new restaurant on the waterfront of Port Credit. Posta Italbar Cucina is a “Pastificio, Pizzeria and Enoteca” serving fresh pasta, pizza and wine with excellent service in a contemporary but comfortable atmosphere. They feature locally sourced ingredients, family packages, and make-at-home meal kits.
Check it out and tell me what you think. Your stomach (and your wallet) won’t be disappointed.
I'm a creative, passionate individual with an eye for a good story. Find me on my best days writing about travel and lifestyle, while drinking black coffee and listening to the summer rain. Follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter @itsnicolemacina, and Instagram @nicolemacina.