Tag Archives: Little Italy

San Gennaro

7 Aug

There is a certain vibe I love about Little Italy in Montreal. The real communal vibe – the way people seem to just come together to sit and enjoy a coffee and a chat. The little cafes and shops around that area cater to that really well. I don’t visit the area as much anymore but when I do, I really try to enjoy that experience. San Gennaro on St-Zotique is a place I have heard much about since it opened a few years ago now. A hybrid pizzeria, bakery, coffee shop, grocery and gelato shop, it tries to cover lots of ground but given its heritage – San Gennaro was started by the same group that gave us restaurants Bottega and Hosteria in Little Italy – it definitely has a good chance.

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First up, I tried one of their arancinis. A solid version all-around. There was a nice crunch on the exterior and the interior is a great mix of veal, green peas, mozzarella and parmigiano. Nothing to complain about here.

But truthfully, we are here to talk about their pizza. Coming from the group that brought us Bottega pizza just next door, there are certainly expectations even if we are dealing with Pizza al Taglio, not the napoletana-style they serve at Bottega. Pizza al taglio is baked in large rectangular trays and served by the slice. As such, crust-wise, we are not talking about thin-crust anymore. This is a thicker, more chewy pizza – the common version we have all had would be the tomato pizza often served in buffets or at children’s parties. Thankfully, this is much better than that. This pizza has a great crunch to its crust while still being nice and chewy.

I tried a host of different pizzas over a few visits. The first one was a potato and andouille sausage pizza. The inclusion of potato was something I had never tried before. It makes the pizza a little more dense and a little drier especially without any tomato sauce. The real kicker though was the sausage whose spiciness really came out.

I then tried the standard Margherita pizza. Their tomato sauce has a nice smoothness to it and a nice sweetness but acidic taste. Top it with some mozzarella and you have a solid classic. On a follow-up visit, I tried the same pizza but with salami added to it. Same great taste with some meaty goodness.

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A more unique offering is their breakfast pizza. Topped with a egg, some cherry tomatoes and some pork salume, you have a nice mixture of the richness and spiciness. The egg is cooked just enough to not leak all over the pizza which makes it easier to enjoy as a single slice. A nice change-up for a morning snack.

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The final one I tried was another potato pizza – this time without the sausage, just with some smoked cheese. I was curious how the potato would work without the spicy sausage. Another hit – the smoked cheese created just enough of a contrast with the potato to help lighten the feeling.

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As I was sitting outside of the terrasse on my last visit, I couldn’t help but observe the table of elderly Italian men visiting there simply having a coffee and chatting. Their level of comfort on the terrasse chatting with the waitress as she passed by as they were enjoying the weather. It speaks to how San Gennaro has fit into the neighbourhood and the vibe they have achieved. Good food, a nice atmosphere and a great terrasse – all a good combination for when you are passing by Little Italy.

Cheers!

San Gennaro
69 St-Zotique Est
514 273 6868

San Gennaro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Pizzeria Napoletana

9 Jun

If there is one blind spot in my Montreal food repertoire that I feel somewhat embarrassed about, it is Pizza. Despite my absolute love of all things Pizza related – I could honestly eat pizza everyday if such a thing were reasonable from a dietary point of view – I have not exploring many of Montreal’s fine establishments. If someone were to ask me where to get a great slice of pizza, I honestly wouldn’t have an answer that I could base on personal experience. Well… I want to change that. So last weekend, I took the opportunity after a visit to Jean Talon Market to try a Little Italy institution, Pizzeria Napoletana.

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Right off the bat, I am not a staunch advocate of either thin crust or deep dish pizza. I give equal time to both sides… as long as it is done right. In this instance, we would be treated to a classic Italian thin crust pizza. When coming to a place that has been doing it since 1948, one hopes you will be getting a great slice of pie. With thin crust, you are looking for a nice crisp base but one that still has a bit of chewiness to it. Too thin or crisp and you get something that tastes completely burnt. On the toppings front, you want a nice tomato sauce and good cheese. You want just enough of both to cover the dough but not so much that it overwhelms the flavor of the crust.

I decided to go with a Quattro Fromaggi pizza for my first try. Before I add extra ingredients, I want to see if the basic pizza is done well. Napoletana uses Mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano and bocconcini for their version. This was a very well done pizza. It pretty much had everything I was looking for. Crispy yet tender crust – check. Bonus points for the slightly burnt edge as well. Right amount of both sauce and cheese – check. Tangy tomato sauce – check. Nice mix of cheese – check. Very satisfying pizza overall.

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My sister went with a even simpler pizza on her end – the classic Margarita. Once again, a very nice pizza with the same characteristics of the previous one minus the added notes of the Romano and bocconcini cheese.

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As the 1st true entry in the Montreal Pizza search, Pizzeria Napoletana was exactly what I expected from a Montreal Institution – a place that serves solid pizza, tried and true. It was a good initial benchmark to set my expectations for a good Montreal Pizza. Walking into the restaurant, you absolutely get that old school pizzeria feel – the pictures of celebrities on the walls, all the staff in restaurant t-shirts and caps, paper placemats and the fact that this still only take cash. If you’re looking for a classic Napoli style pizza, this is a good place to start.

Cheers!

Pizzeria Napoletana
189 Dante
514 276 8226

Pizzeria Napoletana on Urbanspoon

Douro

8 Oct

There are restaurants that, for some reason, become family favorites. Be it for a specific food item, the wine list, the decor or even the service, these are places that you will go back to time and time again because you enjoy it and are in the mood to go back. They become staple of the rotation when the family seeks a nice place to enjoy a nice weekend meal. For my family, Douro is one such place. Given we recently went back for a nice Saturday evening meal, I figure now would be a good opportunity to talk about it.

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For the uninitiated, Douro is a Portuguese restaurant located of the fringes of Little Italy here in Montreal. They serve tapas style dishes or you can stick to the classic appetizer/ main course format if you’d like. Each time I’ve gone, I have stuck to the tapas menu. Amongst the tapas options on this evening, we went for chorizo sausage, grilled squid, grilled calamari, garlic shrimp and cod cakes. Every item is cooked very nicely without overdoing the ingredients – simply allowing the natural favors of each items shine through with some slight enhancements. The grilled squid is of particular note here.

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The next serving brought forth some delicious mussels as well as 2nd helpings of squid and cod cakes. The mussels were rather small but they were still delicious as was the garlic and white wine broth.

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To top off the evening, a deliciously fresh pastry. Nice flaky crust and a buttery smooth filling.

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Add to this delicious food a nice bottle of Portuguese white wine and you have yourself a very nice meal to enjoy. The service is outstanding and personable. I have some minor quips about the decor of the restaurant (although I seem to be the only one who feels that way) but they do not distract for the great food you will enjoy. If you are looking for a nice enjoyable Portuguese meal, I highly recommend giving Douro a shot. Maybe your family will enjoy it as much as mine.

Cheers!

Douro
6518 Boul. St-Laurent
514 273 6969

Douro on Urbanspoon

Dinette Triple Crown

23 Aug

On my regular Saturday bike ride to and from Jean Talon Market, I occasionally use the opportunity to stop and try some desired location located on my route through Mile End and Little Italy. Last week, I was in the mood for some BBQ so I headed off to a pretty new addition to the scene in Little Italy, Dinette Triple Crown.

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I had first heard of this location through Natasha Pickowicz‘s blog. As a fan of BBQ, I was instantly intrigued and boy… was I not disappointed. The restaurant is in a small space at the corner of St-Zotique and Clark across from Martel park. There is a small counter area to sit inside but the place is really set up to pick up and enjoy elsewhere. In fact, they offer an option to provide a picnic basket filled with your order to bring across the street to enjoy outside. Had I not been alone, the option would have been a perfect one but inside was just as enjoyable. The restaurant has a cool look with amazing music playing throughout. Any place that plays jazz, crooner and soul music the whole time is a winner in my books!

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The menu options run the gamut of classic southern style food: brisket, fried chicken, pulled pork, biscuits, sweet potato, greens, etc… I went for a large wide swatch of their options for my lunch: Pulled pork sandwich, one piece of fried chicken, a buttermilk biscuit, sweet potatoes and a lemonade. There wasn’t a single bad option on this plate. The sweet potatoes were perfectly cooked with a nice crisp exterior without the interior becoming complete mush. The biscuit was a perfect combination of rich, soft, flaky goodness. It was the kind of thing where you can just tell that lots of butter and buttermilk was used in its making but you don’t care in the least. The fried chicken was simply perfect – the skin was crispy, seasoned perfectly and not overbearing. The chicken was probably the moistest I’ve ever experienced with fried chicken. That classic feeling of needing to drink loads of water to offset the dryness of fried chicken was nowhere to be found. The chicken definitely deserved to be enjoyed in a larger quantity but that had to wait because I needed to try the pulled pork.

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When I want to judge a BBQ place, the pulled pork or the ribs are, to me, the to go options. The pulled pork here is just amazing. Perfectly done with the right level of tenderness & amazing flavor and that is without sauce because at Dinette, the pulled pork sandwich comes un-sauced. On the table, you have numerous options of sauces from which to choose from. You have a more classic Memphis BBQ sauce, a South Carolina mustard sauce and a vinegar based East Carolina sauce. Dinette Triple Crown also experiment with other sauce options from time to time. When I was there, the chef came over to provide me with a sample of his current concoction, a peach jalapeño sauce. Let me repeat that because I believe it deserves to be repeated: peach jalapeño sauce. Now, I really don’t enjoy jalapeño spice but I definitely needed to try this one. I tried both it and the Memphis BBQ sauce. The BBQ sauce was spot-on and hit the notes you expect from a top notch BBQ place. The Peach jalapeño sauce was just out of bounds. Spicy to start with a nice sweetness midway to cool the pallet before the heat kicks up again at the finish, this sauce was ridiculous. Just ridiculous. Not sure how much I use it given my lack of hot sauce enjoyment but for those who do, Dinette does sell the sauces they make periodically so check it out with that’s your style.

All in all, Dinette Triple Crown is the best southern BBQ experience I’ve ever had. Period. Anyone who loves BBQ needs to stop over and give this place a shot. I will definitely be heading back very soon to try the rest of the menu.

Cheers!

Dinette Triple Crown
6704 Clark (corner St-Zotique)
514 272 2617

Dinette Triple Crown on Urbanspoon

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