There's such an abundance of Italian food in this city, it can be difficult to wade through the mediocre to find the truly amazing spots. Most would agree that the majority of mouthwatering Italian eats can be found in the Italian neighbourhood known to all as Little Italy. But what about the other areas of town? Can you find delectable Italian cuisine without heading to Little Italy?
So whether you're craving a simple plate of spaghetti and meatballs, or an osso buco that melts in your mouth, from old-school red sauce joints to modern takes on nonna's homemade cooking, Montrealers will be singing “that’s amore” to these Italian favourites located just outside of Little Italy.
1. Trattoria Il Ritrovo
Given the location, which is a good 25 minutes from the downtown core, it's amazing what kind of prominence Il Rotrovo has established. The restaurant has well-portioned plates and a menu with a variety of choices from sandwiches, to salads, to pasta and everything in between. The food is authentic and oh-so-appetizing, it will have you thinking that your nonna is hiding in the kitchen meticulously prepping every plate that comes to your table.
2. Artigiani Pizzeria Cucina
This restaurant is very charming and quaint. The food is fresh and flavorful. Artigiani not only serves up pizzas made in a wood-fire oven and authentic homemade pasta, the restaurant also doubles as a one-stop shop to purchase fresh pastas & sauces to bring back to your casa. Artigiani is a truly a unique one-stop shop dining experience.
3. Da Emma
This rustic-chic restaurant is located in the basement of an old prison. Sounds peculiar, but instead it boasts ambiance, charm, and character. It's almost like you are dining in an old wine cellar. There are no printed menus so be patient and the waiter will come by to explain, and gladly recommend, dishes from the menu written out on a portable blackboard. The place is a little pricey but well worth the extra money. Unconvinced? Perhaps the numerous celebrities who’ve dined here and whose photos adorn the wall will serve as a testament to this restaurant's impeccable reputation.
4. Dolcetto & Co
Wandering around the Old Port and looking for a spot that offers delicious Italian cuisine with no pretension, stuffiness or formality, well look no further - Dolcetto & Co is your Italian go-to eatery! This is a great place for groups, as you can share your tapas style food. It all starts with a basket of mixed bread, served alongside an aromatic olive oil & balsamic vinegar pairing. Order a bottle of wine and take your time sampling an assorted variety of delectable tapas style dishes off their diversified menu.
5. Nora Gray
The approximately 50 seat chic restaurant has a modern feel to it. The small space is adorned with wood panelled walls; black leather-coated banquettes and dimmed lighting. The bartenders are clad in workman's wear with tattoo sleeves and military-style crew cuts. Add to that the great alternative music that they have playing throughout the restaurant and you have yourself an ambiance that screams timeless classics - with a young and hip touch. Now the food. Holy Mother of all things delectable and delicious! They offer a seasonal menu that offers up unparalleled Italianesque cuisine while always using local and fresh ingredients.
6. Restaurant Roberto
Outside the usual tourist area, while not too far from Montreal's infamous little Italy, Roberto’s is a must when in Montreal. It's a restaurant, an Italian grocery store, and an ice cream shop all rolled into one. The decor is very trendy with family portraits of (I can only imagine) Roberto and his mother. Lighting is dim and the tables are placed fairly close together as they are in many European restaurants. You can have a great meal here featuring pastas that are made in-house daily, topped with amazing sauces. And the homemade desserts are the real deal, from presentation to taste. Roberto’s is a great little community restaurant that boasts an in-house gastronomic food shop downstairs.
7. Le Muscadin
If you're out to impress, Le Muscadin fits the bill. Winner of multiple awards, Le Muscadin has set the bar on fine Italian dining very high. The service is impeccable but not intrusive. The atmosphere is elegant and refined with live musicians playing softly to set the mood for the evening. The menu offers food that is authentic with many delectable surprises for the pallet accompanied by a wonderfully unique (and private) wine selection. Definitely among Montreal's finest.
8. Bevo Bar + Pizzeria
Right in the midst of Old Montreal, the stone building, with internal balcony, stone walls and high ceilings, a real cool glass wine cellar, and of course, the pizza oven in the middle of restaurant makes for a great ambiance The servers are friendly and the food is wonderful. There is the added bonus of being able to walk around and explore Old Montreal before and after dinner, making your dining experience at Bevo all the more enjoyable.
9. Il Focolaio Pizza Resto
This place can easily be described as a no-frills, modest restaurant that serves up the best homemade pizza with fresh ingredients this side of town. The location is golden, perfect for all the crazy shoppers who are hungry after a tiring stroll on Saint Catherine Street. The restaurant has over 70 types of pizzas to choose from, making the decision period typically last longer then the actually pre-pizza wait time. They also deliver, so if you're not in the mood to go out in the cold, heat, rain, snow or sleet (you never do know in Montreal) give them a call.