There is no place as magical as Italy. Hands down. Don't even try to argue. And what makes it so great? That Italian vibe, of course (...fine, the glittering oceans and beautiful landscapes help a little bit too). And where in Montreal can we find the Italian mantra of good food, good wine, and good people? Little Italy - especially in the summer. If you're not a regular visitor of Montreal's Piccola Italia, it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out how to make the most out of the experience. But don't worry, we got you. Break out your Vespa and floppy beach hat because here are 7 Things You Need To Know Before Visiting Montreal's Little Italy.
1. St. Laurent Street closes frequently in the summer
So it's probably better if you leave the car at home. But don't get too upset. St. Laurent closes to make room for all of Little Italy's awesome summertime events, like Italian week and Grand Prix Weekend (protip: go the Saturday night and enjoy the view of Lamborghinis/Ferraris/old school Fiat 500s). Trust me. It's every pedestrian's dream.
2. Little Italy is more than just St. Laurent
A lot of people stroll down St. Laurent and think that their journey to Little Italy is done. Well, bad news - they're wrong. Take a walk down Henri Julien to discover the historic Church of the Madonna della Difesa. Or maybe wander down Dante, chill in the park, and buy a connoli at Alati-Caserta bakery. There are no wrong turns in Little Italy. Only great ones.
Photo Cred - Ristorante Pomodoro
3. Come for the food, stay for everything else
If you're coming to Little Italy for some legit Italian food, then you're in luck. Pretty much every restaurant in the neighbourhood is awesome in its own unique way, and many of the bars (AKA cafes) are authentic and downright amazing. While the food is a pretty great reason to go, Little Italy also has a bunch of other things to explore - like art galleries, music stores, boutiques, furniture shops, and even a Ducati store. So grab a meal or browse some bikes, it's all good.
4. Not all the restaurants are Italian
Okay, situation: you're strolling through Little Italy. Your stomach grumbles. To your right, delicious Italian. To your left, delicious Italian. The problem? You're not craving Italian. Hey, it's cool. It happens to the best of us. And luckily, you don't have to feel too bad about giving up a delicious Italian dish, because Little Italy is also full of delicious Asian restaurants. And Mexican restaurants. And Middle-Eastern restaurants. The list goes on, but my point remains the same: hit up Little Italy for some amazing food, my friend.
5. It's home to the Jean Talon Market
Which is pretty much Montreal's best kept not-so-secret place to buy fresh and cheap fruits, vegetables, cheese... and basically anything else your heart/stomach desires. Seriously. Your trip to Little Italy is not at all complete without visiting Marché Jean-Talon. Just remember to prepare yourself for a huge haul of food.
6. It's easy to get to from just about everywhere
Little Italy is in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie, which means you can pretty much get to it from wherever you are on the island in under an hour by public transport. Unless you're in the West Island. Sorry, West Island friends.
7. Authenticity. Authenticity everywhere
Italian restaurants? Cafes? Grocery stores? Book stores? Check, check, check, check. While there are many awesome, authentic Italian negozi throughout Montreal, what makes Little Italy so great is that it's got everything concentrated in one place. So it's kind of a no-brainer that Little Italy should be one of your top destinations for a legit Montreal (and Montreal Italian) experience.