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Petite Italie/J-Talon Mkt Restos?

Quite a few new restaurants, high-end and not, have opened up in la Petite Italie/Jean-Talon market area in Montréal recently. Have any of you been to Pesca, and it is worth the price? (It is the latest incarnation of the former Quelli della notte).

Then there is a new, inexpensive trattoria, "Nonno's" www.nonnostrattoria.com at the southwest corner of St-Laurent and Mozart - the website is not active yet. Seems to be standard Italo-Canadian fare with a few twists; a place to watch soccer games and have a beer or a casual meal, but est-ce que c'est bon dans son genre?

Another newcomer is Villa España, a small Spanish resto in a former bar/café that never seemed particularly popular or interesting, just north of St-Zotique on the east side of St-Laurent. http://villaespana.ca/ Evidently this restaurant was located somewhere else before.

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  1. On another tangent, has anyone been to Kitchen Gallery? It recently opened on Jean-Talon just West of Casgrain, in the space that used to hold a middle-eastern kebab joint. Apparently, there are no servers and the cooks bring your food themselves. That's about all I know about it.

    9 Replies
    1. re: SnackHappy

      It looked intriguing (from across the street) but no, I haven't been there. That little stretch doesn't seem to take off. There is an oddly unsuited breakfast place there called Deli Joe, nothing appetising (except of course Le Petit Alep/Restaurant Alep). And then there is the espresso place (Lavazza?) in the former funeral home (odd for me, as I've been to wakes there...).

      1. re: lagatta

        A few months ago, an Italian place opened up on that block but was always empty. It seems to be picking up though. Has anyone been to Il Tignanello?

        1. re: FoodNovice

          Don't know about the resto by that name, but I sure would drink of a bottle of it.

          1. re: FoodNovice

            I know two people who went. They are not particularly picky eaters and said it was terrible. This is enough to keep me away until I hera differently.

            1. re: thelonious777

              I have to disagree with that. I'm a Italian Fine Cuisine Restaurant regular and I have to say I was particularly impressed with this one. The place was a little empty, but the food was great. I pass by that area often, though, and it seems to be picking up. The terrace is obviously closed for the season, but inside it looks busy now. I'm considering going again soon... oh and something people may not know, that restaurant has TWO floors, that's awesome for business events and parties.

              1. re: daridave

                So what did you eat when you went there. I wanted to go, but was dissuaded by the comments on this board.

        2. re: SnackHappy

          I have almost eaten there a couple times but I think you have to order a three course meal, which I find a little too much during the week. People are going, though. It seemed to be full this weekend and there have been a few tables occupied every time I passed by last week.

            1. Sara Musgrave has done a review of Nonno's in the Gazette. It sounds decent enough, though a few kinks remain to be worked out (Don't order the crème brouillée...) http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette... This is an unpretentious place with TV screens to watch soccer and other sports; it always seems popular when I pass by.

              3 Replies
              1. re: lagatta

                Happened upon a cute little resto bar on St-Zotique just east of Christophe-Colomb, hence a bit east of Little Italy and the Jean-Talon market. There seem to be a few interesting new businesses filling in between there and the area of Rosemont near Cinéma Beaubien and Parc Molson.

                http://vesparesto.com/ According to Vespa's website, they were elsewhere before and have just moved. Prices look very reasonable, the staff I spoke to did speak Italian. I didn't try a coffee or anything because they were hosting a private event.

                One of my clients is right around the corner from them, so I should have more details soon.

                1. re: lagatta

                  Vespa is DISGUSTING - AVOID at all costs. The quality of the ingredients is extremely poor, and the pizza was the worst I have had in the city of Montreal. Go west on St. Zotique to Bottega, or to St. Laurent to Cafe International for food, you cannot go wrong.

                  1. re: chemfemme

                    We've been to Vespa quite a few times already, most recently yesterday. I don't know what chemfemme is talking about, the food there is delicious.

                    The pesto is always fresh, the pizzas are spectacular (the prosciutto & spinach pizza changed, they now have fresh parmesan shavings ontop) and the pasta is definitely fresh.

                    Also, their calamari is amazing. Very light breading, making it mostly calamari rather than breading, and cooked just right.

              2. Try Pesca. It is simply beautiful inside. They also have a new chef and things have improved. I would stay away from NOno's

                2 Replies
                1. re: rosief

                  rosie, could you tell us what you had there? I love fish, and indeed that restaurant is beautiful in its new incarnation, but the people I know who went there before (and these are people with taste as well as money) said it wasn't worth the price. If it is very good, it is worth keeping in mind as a special treat.

                  1. re: lagatta

                    I was there last week and I started with the Octopus plate and then followed it up with a shrimp linguini plate. My mate had Limoncello scallops followed by red snapper. I understand the chef is new.

                2. Walking by Bottega pizzeria, there is construction going on next door, in what was a garden belonging to Bottega's forebear, Chez Frank (pretty once, but gone to seed in recent years). Imagine that Bottega is expanding - it was not even 6pm when I walked past (though already getting dark) and it was already full.

                  The hole-in-the-wall Salvadorean resto next door (El Amigo, corner St-Zotique and St-Dominique) has become a byow (or beer). This makes it an alternative to dining among friends of the cheap and cheerful variety... 51 St-Zotique E. Tel. 514-278-4579.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: lagatta

                    Bottega is not expanding which I think is a good thing. The atmosphere in there is great and the quality of the food also, expanding would most probably comprimise one if not two of these factors.
                    The little café accross the street, sablo kafé, is one of my favourite little spots to catch a great lunch. They make really good tandoori chicken sandwiches.
                    Another great spot is Spice Safar on Casgrain facing the market. I avoided it for a long time because it seemed way too "concept" oriented but turns out the food is delicious, the wines by the glass are very well chosen and the staff is informative and friendly.
                    As for Ustica, it has nothing on Bottega, it is mediocre pizza with a cardboard crust.
                    My next resto visit will most definetely be Kitchen Gallery, the menu changes reularly but always tempts me when I pass by and with the size of the place who needs extra staff?

                    1. re: Nanbanane

                      I walked past Ustica pizzeria on St-Laurent (opposite Caffe internazionale) at about 10 to 6pm yesterday evening, and it was dark and closed. No sign indicating that it was a temporary end-of-year holiday closing. The consensus here seems to be that this is not a bad thing.

                      Spice Safar is closed and its signs gone, though now there are little paper signs inside the windows speaking of a re-opening later in the month. I'll keep my eyes peeled.