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Let’s eat! Art feeds the soul and so does gelato at the Ref

Greater Sudbury’s new outdoor downtown theatre is a hit for its performances and for its traditional gelato from Death In Venice in Toronto

Art and food have a symbiotic relationship for Alessandro Costantini. Both have been extensively explored and savoured in his lifetime.  

The artistic and managing director for YES Theatre and the Sudbury Theatre Centre now has plans to bring exquisite culinary experiences to the new Refettorio

The open air, outdoor theatre is the first new theatre to open across the country in years, and it’s right here in the downtown core of the city.

Costantini borrowed the Latin name, which means to “remake” or “restore”, from a high-ranking chef on the world circuit. 

Massimo Bottura created Refettorio Ambrosiano in a derelict theatre on the outskirts of Milan.  The community kitchen allows some of the world's greatest chefs to serve vulnerable people meals made from supermarket food waste.  

A documentary called “Food for the Soul was created on the subject, making the Refettorio concept even more popular on the world stage. 

This community concept is exactly what Costantini wanted for his outdoor theatre and he knew it needed food, too.

That’s when he got the idea to bring onboard the gelato laboratory Death in Venice in Toronto.

“I became obsessed while living there,” Costantini said. “I would get pints of all these different flavours and have taste test parties with the Ricotta Rosemary Lemon Gelato and Strawberry Basil Lemon Sorbet among other sinful and sensational flavour combinations.

“I love the simple bold flavours. I spent years working in the kitchen with my mom at the Caruso Club, where she is the head cook, and there is an Italian saying ‘cucina povera’. It’s like the ‘kitchen of the poor’. At the Ref, we are small and humble, but our goal is to transform this space by offering so much enrichment to people in theatre and food.”

Costantini reached out to the owners of Death in Venice and convinced them to sell in bulk to offer theatre goers an exquisite taste of art, as he calls it.

Those who watched “Romeo and Juliet” and now “Forever and For Always - the Music of Shania Twain” can order the sweet treat at intermission.

In the coming months, Costantini hopes to offer dinner theatre opportunities and look for other inventive ways to marry food and community theatre together, starting with a gala event slated for Sept. 29 complete with antipasto, theatre and cocktails.  

He’s also looking for ways to support the city’s most vulnerable during the coldest months of the year.

Gelato will be served at the Refettorio until the curtain comes down for the outdoor season on Sept. 24 with the final performance of “Forever and For Always - the Music of Shania Twain”.

To book tickets and learn more, visit

Anastasia Rioux is a writer in Greater Sudbury. Let’s Eat! is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.


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