If you've ever been to Montreal's Mile End, then the chances are very high that you've passed by Cafe Olimpico (124 Rue St-Viateur Ouest). It's pretty much an institution in the area - and in Montreal in general.
There's something about the friendly, familiar atmosphere and awesome~ coffee that just get me every. Single. Time.
And I know I'm not alone. When it comes to cafes in Montreal, it's really obvious that Olimpico has a winning recipe. Especially considering its recent expansion into Old Montreal (419 Rue Saint Vincent).
As someone who's at Olimpico frequently, I personally couldn't help but wonder how this pretty famous Montreal spot came to be. It's been around for as long as I can remember, and I'm pretty sure it didn't just shoot out of the ground, Italia flag and espresso machine at the ready. (Well, maybe, but probably not).
So, after doing a little research, I managed to learn a little bit of the history about one of my fave Montreal coffee shops.
A while ago, parts of the Mile End were hotspots for Italian immigrants to settle into when they came to the city. (See: Little Italy, for example).
Rocco Furfaro, who immigrated from Rome to Montreal in 1960, actually opened Cafe Olimpico in 1970. But before that, he just so happened to own the very first pizzeria in Montreal, along with his wife.
Rocco eventually sold the pizzeria... But, shortly after, he opened up Cafe Olimpico. His goal with the coffee shop? Make it an awesome meeting space for everyone, which I think has been more than achieved.
He also wanted to make sure to preserve and pass down his special Italian espresso blend, which remains unchanged since Olimpico opened in the 1970s.
So, if you've ever tried one of Olimpico's signature lattes, cappuccinos, affogatos, or espressos, then you know you're tasting something that's lasted for about four decades. I think that's super chill, TBH.
Also, if you've ever been to the Mile End in July, then you might have noticed the San Marziale feast taking place. Funnily enough, Olimpico owner Rocco Furfaro would actually threw the San Marziale parties himself, as a way to catch up with other Italian immigrants who had moved elsewhere in the city.
I don't know about you guys, but I think the whole story is pretty amazing. My grandparents were Italian immigrants too, and having lived with them for most of my life, I've heard stories of their struggles forever. The fact that someone in that situation could go on to create one of the most successful coffee spots in the city is mindblowing to me... but, anyways, that's a little bit off topic.
Oh, and cute little anecdote time: if you've been to Olimpico, you might have noticed that their slogan is "open da night." That's because it was originally "open day and night", but a few letters fell off. And just like that, their cute, funny, famous pseudo-slogan was born.
Today, Olimpico serves up yummy espresso-based drinks, biscotti, pastries, and more, all in their signature green-roofed spot at the corner of St. Viateur and Waverly. It's one of the hottest spots to go to watch soccer, chill with friends, enjoy a latte, and basically do just about anything.
So, Cafe Olimpico, keep doing you. Because you're awesome.
Montreal's Mile End skatepark is set to host a huge nighttime block party this September as part of MAPP_MTL's sixth edition.
The event, billed as "Montreal's projection mapping festival," is a celebration of digital art. The block party will feature monumental digital creations cast on the surrounding buildings, illuminating the skatepark as electronic music plays.
Local restaurant Nakamichi will be serving Japanese fried chicken and pastries over the course of the electric event.
In a press release, MAPP_MTL says there will also be a "small shopping area" showcasing local businesses.
Digital artworks will include work by artist Delphine Dussoubs (Dalkhafine) and minute-long projections by artists from Quebec and around the world, as well as what the festival describes as "works improvised by creators and members of the public [unfolding] in real-time."
Located in the heart of Old Montreal, Babacool brings all the traditions of Middle Eastern cuisine but combines them with a futuristic twist. The restaurant — specializing in sharing plates and natural wines — looks like it could be an impeccably decorated spaceship. It's also affordable, with plates ranging from $3 to $22.
Naturally, we started off with drinks. I got the Hi Gin cocktail, made with Tanqueray, yuzu and simple syrup to refresh me on a scorching hot day and, let me tell you, it did the trick.
My friend got the Spicy Marg with Sauza Tequila, dry curuçao, chilli salt and dehydrated chilli. Honestly, the drinks were so good that we would have tried them all if we could.
Next, we moved onto appetizers. Anyone familiar with Middle Eastern cuisine knows that appetizers mean lots and lots of dipping! We tried the hummus, labneh and mouhamara — all with freshly made za'atar pita.
Now, I don't want to brag, but I've made my way through a hummus or two and I take hummus VERY seriously. So, as a self-proclaimed expert, I can easily say this was some of the best I've had in the city to date. We also got some vine leaves (my fave!).
Moving onto mains, we shared shakshouka, a halloumi salad and shrimp served with star anise, ouzo, feta, and radish. All three dishes were fresh and beyond compare. As I always say, you know a dish is incredible when you delay your last bite just so the meal lasts a little longer.
While the food was exceptional and the drinks were beautiful, my favourite part of the whole night was the staff. Hubert, our server, is the type of server who loves people and loves what he does. He made a great night even better.
We also met Sophie Chenier, who owns Babacool along with her husband Charles Manceau and restauranteur Marco Benatar. Benatar is co-owner of other popular Montreal eateries, like Jatoba and Flyjin.
The screening will take place at the foot of Old Montreal in the Parc du Champs-de-Mars behind City Hall. The movie will be projected onto the wall of the Palais de Justice tower. In a Facebook post, Ville-Marie said this was a first-of-its-kind event.
The borough has selected the 2011 movie Monsieur Lazhar directed by Philippe Falardeau. The movie follows an Algerian immigrant to Montreal who "is hired to replace a popular teacher who committed suicide in her classroom," according to the IMDb plot summary. It's rated PG-13.
The event is free, but the borough warns spaces are limited. Prospective attendees are required to reserve tickets on Eventbrite. There are still spots available as of the time of writing.
The projection begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 2. Ville-Marie also promises on-site entertainment from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Attendees 13 years old and older will need to show their vaccine passports to access the site.
Get the details below.
Free Outdoor Movie Screening In Downtown Montreal
When: Thursday, September 2, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Parc du Champ-de-Mars
Why You Need To Go: To mark the end of summer with one last outdoor movie.
John Soares, an Old Montreal resident, took a video of the chaos on Friday at around 11:30 a.m.
The video shows the streets jam-packed and traffic gridlocked on all four sides of the intersection at rue Saint-Paul O. & rue Saint-François-Xavier, as stagnant vehicles honk continuously.
Soares posted the video to Facebook with the caption, "Going to be a fun weekend."
"If that's what it was like in the middle of the day, imagine what it's going to be like at 6 p.m. when people are trying to get home," Soares told MTL Blog.
The World Triathlon Championship is set to take place in the Old Port of Montreal from August 13 to 15.
Much of rue de la Commune Ouest will be entirely closed to cars, as will parts of rue McGill, rue Saint-Maurice, rue Saint-Henri, and rue Saint-Paul, during different periods of the weekend.
Annette Woloshen, who lives on rue Saint-Paul, said she saw cars with U.S. license plates driving in the area. Canada's land border reopened to vaccinated Americans on August 9.
"It's [...] absolute madness! I saw several cars with American plates and thought [...] the borders opened, they all rushed to see la Belle Province and now are sitting in that jam, cursing not knowing what the heck is going on in this city," Woloshen wrote on Facebook.
"I guess grocery shopping isn't happening either. Uber Eats it is."