Not many people go from busser to restaurant owner, but then not many people possess Armando Mano's passion for fine dining. His first memories go back to his aunt's kitchen in Portugal, where the young Armando remembers spending the entire day watching her cook. He brought these memories with him to Centro Restaurant & Lounge, where he started toting plates in 1990, and they propelled him as he worked his way up to wine-bar manager, then general manager, and finally, 15 years later, to owner.
Today, he supervises a team that includes sommelier Mitchell Gomes and Executive Chef Symon Abad, who continually updates the Italian-influenced menu with new seasonal ingredients. Armando also oversaw a redesign of Centro's interior, which is now adorned in oversized mirrors, velour-upholstered chairs, and soaring 20-foot ceilings. In the kitchen, the restaurant adopted a Q water filtration system to provide clean, clear water without time-consuming expeditions to melt chunks of glaciers in the Yukon. Such leadership caught the attention of the Ontario Hostelry Institute, who awarded Armando a Gold Award for Independent Restaurateur in 2011.