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Massimo Capra in the kitchen. The Toronto celebrity chef is en route to Pearson. cooks up chickpea flour battered haddock with livornese style sauce, garlic capers and olive oil drizzle on March 6, 2010. JENNIFER ROBERTS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL


Massimo Capra, the northern Italian chef and Food Network celebrity who runs the popular Mistura and Sopra restaurants on Davenport Road, is planning to open two new places in Toronto Pearson International Airport this fall.

The addition of Mr. Capra's respected, pan-Italian cooking and high-wattage name to the airport's growing portfolio of chef-driven food outlets is a coup for Pearson. In a separate deal announced this past April, the airport, which serves some 34-million passengers annually, is bringing in another dozen new restaurants and quick-service outlets by Toronto chefs Claudio Aprile (Colborne Lane, Origin), Mark McEwan (North 44, Bymark, Fabbrica), Hemant Bhagwani (Amaya), Rocco Agostino (Pizzeria Libretto) and Guy Rubino (Rain, Ame), as well as wine, beer and cocktail-focused places curated by two of the city's top drinks experts. The first of them are supposed to open this summer, with the full roll-out happening by summer 2013.

Pamela Griffith-Jones, the chief marketing and commercial development officer with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which runs Pearson, has been aggressive about improving the airport's food offerings. In an interview last spring she said that Pearson had been "starving" its passengers.

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The first of Mr. Capra's airport restaurants, a 4,000-square-foot pasta, pizza and wine-focused trattoria, will be built into the domestic departures area of Terminal One, where Coyote Jack's, a burger outlet, as well as a bar, currently stand. He'll also do a grab-and-go location in the Terminal One U.S. departures area.

Unlike with the 12-restaurant deal announced this spring, in which the chefs are paid as consultants but do not operate the restaurants, Mr. Capra and his staff will be in charge of his Pearson properties day-to-day. The venture is a partnership with SSP Canada, the multinational food company that runs about half of the airport's food businesses.

Mr. Capra is planning a menu of traditional, Roman-style crispy-crusted pizzas baked in an 800-degree Italian oven, as well as folded Sicilian pizzas, fresh pastas, Italian salads, soups and appetizers like arancini, fried artichokes and prosciutto platters, he said. His menus will include favourites from Mistura, like the tagliatelle Bolognese. He also intends to have a 30-bottle by-the-glass wine program with several high-end picks, as well as an Italian coffee bar. "We want to build a trattoria that's worthy of Queen Street or King Street," Mr. Capra said.

He added that he'd like business travellers from out of town to be able to fly into Pearson for the day, hold their meetings in his trattoria, then be able to fly out in the evening without ever leaving the airport. Both the trattoria and grab-and-go concepts are also reproducible, he added. "The vision of this is to expand it across Canada, to have one in almost every airport across the country."

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Chris More


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