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Pizzaghetti Is A Montreal 'Mess'terpiece With Mysterious Origins — Here's Why It Stuck Around

It's an unpretentious, quirky hot mess, much like your average Montrealer. 🍕🍝

Will holds up pizzaghetti at Alto's.

Will holds up pizzaghetti at Alto's.

You may have heard poutine is Quebec's national dish, but gravy cheese fries have a weird cousin that has featured on Montreal deli and diner menus for as long, if not longer. Enter: Pizzaghetti, a messy mix of two Italian staples and a fan favourite of those who like their carbs with a side of carbs (and sometimes carbonara).

The dish comes in the form of a personal pan pizza, usually split down the middle and separated by a heaping portion of spaghetti doused in sauce. In some cases, the pasta is even cooked into the pie.

The combination works because of the shared marinara. It's great for leftovers since you can have spaghetti to take home or save a slice for later. The confused and grossed-out look from dinner companions when you order pizzaghetti really adds to the experience.

Pizzaghetti hasn't reached the same notoriety as poutine, since it's not as versatile and can't double as finger food or a full meal. If you order pizzaghetti, you're not snacking and there's no appetizer size: you're digging in and refusing to leave hungry.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to what you'll get when you order pizzaghetti. But one thing's for sure, it's the most filling item on the menu of many a casse-croûte.

There's no clear origin story for the dish and it seems that no single pizzaghetti restaurant wants to own up to creating the culinary mess-terpiece.

The term 'pizzaghetti' appeared online in 2004, according to Google Trends, but it has been on restaurant menus for far longer. 75-year-old St-Henri greasy spoon Greenspot claims pizzaghetti has "been around as long as we have." Their dated signage behind the cash register even lists pizzaghetti among the top items served.

Greenspot's $20 take on the dish is 'classic' with a huge portion of spaghetti topped with homemade tomato sauce (that's a whole meal on its own) and a pizza slathered in at least half a brick of mozzarella.

There aren't as many variations available compared to their extensive poutine list, but the two-in-one meal will sustain you for longer.

Hochelaga diner Miami Deli is a kitsch haven with a ceiling full of glossy plastic sharks and other tropical, underwater decor.

Their menu is giant and so is their pizzaghetti ($21.95). They also have a Pizza-César, if you want to go the pseudo-healthy route and swap your spag for salad. The Pizza-Poutine is also on offer for those brave enough to double down on the dairy.

Da Bologna Pizzeria in Montreal North has a creative roster of more gourmet pizzaghetti options that go for around $18. You can upgrade your pizza pairing with fettuccine alfredo or even gnocchi.

Student-favourite McGill Pizza on Milton serves an affordable $14.75 pizzaghetti with your choice of mini pan pie, between the special (all dressed with onions and bacon or minced meat), Mexican, Greek, spinach or feta toppings.

Nearby, Alto Restaurant serves a $16 pizzaghetti with cheese, pepperoni, all-dressed, Hawaiian, vegetarian or Mexican pies. You can top it off with a dollop of their spaghetti and meat sauce, or opt for a side of salad (which is kind of cheating).

Rosemont pizza joint Marconi specialises in having pizza stuffed with pasta if you're not offended by cutting your spaghetti into slices and shoveling it into your face by hand. The smallest 8" option will set you back $18 and you can get incrementally larger portions that range up to the 16" extra-large for $55.

But that's just a taste of the Montreal restaurants experimenting with pizzaghetti.

Quebecers have been playing with the food for ages. In fact, late-night depanneur Couche-Tard once ran a limited edition Pizzaghetti Sloche (accompanied by disturbing ads) and stocked twin slushy machines labeled 'pizza' and 'spaghetti' that each dispensed fruit-flavoured frozen beverages that could be slurped separately or combined.

Quebec may be the root of pizzaghetti, but it has become far more popular in South Africa since the late 90s with at least half a dozen Johannesburg restaurants now named after the dish.

Either way, pizzaghetti is Montreal through and through. It's unpretentious, quirky and kind of messy, much like your average Montrealer. Plus, it cuts to the point (and not just because there are slices involved). If you want two large helpings of unhealthy fave foods served together, you should be able to order that without shame. Long live pizzaghetti!

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