Reviewed by Lesley Chesterman and Gazette critics
This is a list of some of the hottest new Italian restaurants in Montreal along with a few old stand-bys. All come highly recommended for one reason or another.
Please feel free to add your favourite Italian restaurants in the comments section and be sure to provide specific examples of why you think they’re the best. Needless to say, you should also chime in if you think a much-praised restaurant is overrated or disappointing.
Lesley Chesterman wrote last month:
I have so many good things to say about this week’s restaurant that I’m afraid you’ll think its owner is bribing me, blackmailing me or is my second cousin once removed. None of the above. The reason I enjoyed it is because it fits what I like about food now…fancified comfort food that features pure flavours and simple cooking techniques. As a fan of the latter it isn’t a stretch to say that if I imagined my fantasy restaurant, this week’s could be it.
Fish and seafood dishes came especially highly recommended as did the desserts. Read the full review.
Far from downtown, just north of Metropolitain Blvd., La Cantina was described by Chesterman as “a well-kept secret … (where) crowds of regulars converge at lunch and dinner for delicious food made with top-quality ingredients, courteous and professional service, a wine list with interesting bottles at many price points, and an ambience that is molto simpatico!”
Chesterman calls this old-fashioned Italian restaurant ”solid” and recommends it if you’re heading to or from nearby Place des Arts for a concert. “The menu features just about every traditional Italian dish, ranging from antipasto to cassata with a dozen classic pastas and rich meat and fish dishes in between. Yet considering the innovative eats we’re fed these days, classic can either be an opportunity to renew your faith in traditional fare, or an unwelcome reminder of how far food has evolved,” she writes. Full review here.
On St. Laurent Blvd. north of the hipster strip and south of Little Italy. Chesterman says, “This chef-owned Italian restaurant features simple, traditional and regional Italian cuisine prepared with high-quality ingredients. The reasonably priced daily specials offer the most seasonal selections.”
This is the newest restaurant of the trio who put together the highly praised Joe Beef and it’s just down the street from their firstborn. While there are old English favourites like roast beef and roast chicken on the menu, there’s also plenty of Italian. Chesterman writes:
You’ll spot dishes like ricotta gnocchi, papardelle with mushrooms, and liver wrapped in mortadella, which begs the question: Is Liverpool House more Tony Soprano or Martha Stewart?
Main courses carried on in the same Anglo/Italian vein. Linguini with shrimp is as classic as it gets, and with gorgeous meaty jumbo shrimp and a nice hit of spice in the sauce, this rendition was thoroughly satisfying. I also adored the pork “Milanese,” a thin cutlet of pounded pork loin, breaded, deep-fried and served in a pool of that excellent tomato sauce. Piggy? Absolutely! But delicious nonetheless, especially as the meat was so tender and topped with a thin layer of melted provolone. Yum.
A coconut tart was the favourite dessert. Read the full review.
Pinch-hitting restaurant critic Brian Kappler headed out to Roberto last summer. It’s a neighbourhood restaurant that’s good enough to also be a destination dining spot. The gelateria downstairs is considered one of the city’s best.
As appetizers Kappler recommended grilled asparagus paired with roasted portobello mushroom slices, topped with melted goat cheese, and grilled calamari rings, garnished with cherry tomatoes and a little oil. He wrote:
We were able to sample a range of main dishes, from a $7.50 grilled-vegetables sandwich to the slow-roasted lamb for four times as much. The sandwich, on a ciabatta-type roll, was pleasingly filled with grilled eggplant, onion and mushrooms, plus some tomato and lettuce and a hint of bocconcini. Slow-roasted meats are a Roberto specialty, with piglet, osso bucco, duck, rabbit, veal shank and liver on the la carte menu.
The full review is here.
This restaurant couldn’t survive where it does without something special to offer and in its case, that’s Portuguese dishes along with the mainly Italian fare. Chesterman wrote, “Word is obviously getting around that Vella is a great destination for a hearty meal at a fair price. The mostly Italian menu features rustic dishes like pastas, risottos and braised meats as well as Portuguese food, with a section of the appetizers devoted to cod. ” Reservations are a must.
And since I wrote this, I’m allowing myself to stick in one of my favourite Italian joints. Amelio’s has the best white pizza in town and meat sauce to die for. Plus, it’s cheap and BYOB.
I put this list of Italian restaurants in Montreal together as a local search experiment.I’ll keep you informed on how it turns out.