Not all Italian restaurants are created equal. To be fair, I'm a harsh critic. Having Italian parents and grandparents, I grew up on homemade Italian food, so my taste buds can weed out the East Side Mario-types from the legit Italian eateries. Venti Osteria, located in the Old Port, fortunately falls into the latter category, and is an Italian restaurant which will please all eaters alike.
Chef Nicholas D'onofrio is the architect behind Venti's dishes, crafting regularly changing lunch menus and a seasonal dinner service. A cool aspect of Venti's layout, aside from being rustic and welcoming, is the entirely visible kitchen. If you're visiting for lunch or with a small group, I highly suggest sitting at the bar to witness the chefs at work. The exterior kitchen adds a cool energy to what would could have been just a simple sit down restaurant.
Lunch at Venti plays out with a choice of starter, main dish and dessert. A few options are available in each category, and homemade pasta or a meat selection can function as your main, so a good amount of variety is available. Even better, meals are started with fresh bread (interesting fennel-raisin and regular white) paired with some quality olive oil to get you started and sop up tasty juices throughout the meal.
Soup or salad is always a toss up to start a meal, so we tried both. Venti's tomato soup is rustic upgrade of the childhoood favourite, topped with crumbled ricotta and homemade breadcrumbs to balance the acidic-sweetness of the fresh tomato.
If soup isn't for you, the arugala salad, tossed with pear, gorgonzola torta, and walnuts with a balsamic vinagratte is fresh and sophisticated. Gorgonzola torta is a creamy and strong cheese, offset by the ripe pears, with both adding to a solid salad.
Pasta is a classic Italian dish, one Venti does well. All of Venti's pasta is made in-house, so expect a softer texture than you may be used to, at least with the spaghetti. Served with braised octopus, tomato, red peppers, green olives and spicy 'Nduja, the spaghetti is bursting with fresh flavours.
Star of this meal, and a great choice for meat lovers, is the braised lamb shank served atop roasted squash and creamy cheese polenta. Cooked in a vibrant tomato sauce, the lamb is incredibly tender and juicy. Both the squash and polenta work great to absorb the lambs juices, with the polenta being some of the best I've had in a long while. A very well rounded dish.
No meal is complete without dessert. Venti serves a few lunch sweets: a personal-sized tirimasu, a chocolate torte, and a nutella semi-freddo. We got to taste the first two, with the tirimasu being rich and creamy and the torte tasting like a very sophisticated brownie. Nutella lovers should try the semi-freddo, a popular dessert choice.
Lunch aside, Venti has an extensive dinner menu as well. Oft ordered dishes include pan seared scallops, braised populous salad, and cornish hen with fresh chili. Along with a long wine list and cheese selection, I'm sure Venti would make an intimate dinner for couples, friends, or families.
Better yet, Venti won't entirely break your budget for lunch. Don't be scared off by the Old Port location, you can have a solid 2-3 course meal for about $20. Okay, so that may be more than some are used to paying for lunch, but you're paying for quality and freshness, something Venti Osteria does well. Sticking to basic recipes with seasonal ingredients, Venti Osteria is a great choice for all those who love Italian food.
Whether you can't wait to drink hot chocolate and skate with your besties or to enjoy evening light shows, you'll be happy to know the Old Port skating rink is on again in Montreal this year, and we finally know its official opening date.
Located on the Bonsecours Basin in Old Montreal, this skating rink is a must for Montrealers and tourists as it is located at the foot of the Ferris wheel and offers a magnificent view of the city and the river.
For the 2021-2022 season, the site will be open to all starting December 11, when a special opening night is organized. After that, the site will be open every day until March 6.
Skating will be possible Monday to Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and until 10 p.m. on Christmas holidays. December 31 and February 26 will be special evenings when skaters can enjoy the ice until 1 a.m.
On the program, there are DJ nights every Thursday starting January 6, special "skate dating" days, "karaoke on ice" nights on January 28 and February 26, and other special events.
It costs $8.05 for admission, but a season pass is also available. If purchased before December 11, the pass is discounted by 25% for a total of $24 for the winter.
You can rent equipment for an additional cost, like a pair of skates for $10.45, but you can also rent a lock, helmet or walker for $4.35 each. Use of the on-site lockers is free.
And, you can always end the day with a good coffee and a meal at the Bistro de la Grande Roue. The perfect recipe for a perfect day!
Old Montreal shop Maison Pepin is bringing back its Christmas market alley. While in previous years, the alley has been a whimsical showcase for Pepin's seasonal goods, this year, it will be available exclusively for private photoshoot sessions.
Pepin has brought on event planning company Rox-Out to manage the event and studio Seance Photo to conduct the pet-friendly shoots. Customers who sign up will get a set of 10 photos.
The restaurant came in fifth place nationally with its reports of a little girl from the 19th century, among other ghosts haunting the halls.
As one of the oldest buildings in the country, L'Auberge Saint-Gabriel has witnessed plenty. And with such a long history, there are bound to be some ghosts, right?
Built in 1668 by a French soldier, the building has had many tenants but has predominantly served as a place for folks to eat, drink and spend the night. It was in fact the first auberge in Canada to receive a liquor license way back in 1754, according to its website.
These days, L'Auberge Saint-Gabriel is an upscale restaurant, bar and banquet venue.
The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse in Ontario was found to be the most haunted place in Canada. The Charles Carnell Hospital in Edmonton, an abandoned railroad in rural Saskatchewan, and Waterfront Station in Vancouver rounded out the top five.
As for the spookiest provinces, Casino en ligne put Ontario at the top of the list with 23 haunted locations. It's followed by Alberta (15), Saskatchewan (12), British Columbia (11) and Quebec (10).