Arturo has been a name associated with fine dining in downtown Sault Ste. Marie for decades. In 2021, the restaurant celebrated its 10th anniversary of Chris and Tom Comegna’s ownership of Arturo Ristorante. The brothers purchased the business from their father, Arturo, back in 2011 and have carried on the family tradition of offering Italian fine dining to the community and visitors alike.
The Sault has a dynamic Italian culture and preparing authentic Italian cuisine is a passion for the whole Comegna family. Born and raised in the Sault, the brothers grew up around Italian cooking—their father, of course, ran Arturo while their mother and grandmothers were also skillful cooks.
Today, Tom looks after the front of the house operations while Chris is the chef and oversees the kitchen and the back of the house. For this interview, I talked with Chris, who told me that besides learning how to cook quality food from his dad, mom and grandmothers, he also attended Sault College’s Culinary Skills – Chef Training program. As part of his studies, he also travelled to Italy to attend additional culinary courses there.
A curated menu of homemade Italian classics
“We have a small menu,” said Chris. “We create using real ingredients. For example, we don’t use commercial tomato paste in our homemade tomato sauce. Tomato paste isn’t necessary when you can just boil down your sauce enough to make it just right." Steak, seafood, and grilled meats, along with the classic pasta, are all popular dishes, according to Chris. Some of their best sellers include steak and scallops with crispy spinach gnocchi gorgonzola and cheese ravioli with fresh basil tomato sauce.
"We like to serve what our customers want and we know that in the Sault there are a lot of carnivores," he says. "We also like to change it up a bit by offering a mixed green salad with black bean corn salsa, Cajun chicken, and feta cheese, all tossed with a honey-lime dressing. In developing our menu, we try to stay away from what others are doing and strive to bring in dishes you can’t get elsewhere."
The restaurant is a popular destination for birthdays, anniversaries, and business parties—as well as being a favourite spot for a quiet dinner for two. "Pre-pandemic, our clientele included many tourists who were staying in the area or passing through or friends and family who invited their guests out for dinner," says Chris. "We can’t wait to get back to that."
I asked about some of the restaurant’s suppliers. “We source locally when we can and when the pandemic is not an issue from a supply perspective," he says. At Arturo, this includes mushrooms from Findlay’s Fungus, beef products from Penokean Hills Farms, vegetables from the Algoma Produce Auction and Jardin Farm, fish from Agawa Fishery, and various vendors from the Mill Market.
“While it’s been a hard and difficult time for our business and many small businesses, during the pandemic, we’re looking forward to serving our customers on our patio out in front of the restaurant on Queen Street and we hope that indoor dining will commence again soon.”
A rooftop patio is now open at the restaurant this year and Chris notes they're also looking forward to welcoming customers who will frequent the new plaza that the City of Sault Ste. Marie is planning to build behind the restaurant. "We’re excited to reopen and to be creative again and look forward to focusing on sourcing food from more local suppliers.”