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Apr 15, 2008 04:32 AM

Jean-Talon market area - 2008

I thought I'd start up a new thread on changes, developments and old friends at the Jean-Talon market and thereabouts - Petite Italie, nearby Villeray and Petite Patrie. Cycled to JTM yesterday and see work proceeding on Vinizza, which bills itself as an "enoteca - pizzeria" at the northwestern corner of the market - that is at the corner of Casgrain (east side) and Jean-Talon (south side). A series of Italian restos had been located there.

Not much new at the empty Sami Fruit - the containers there had just cleaned out old junk, and the various premises are still for rent.

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  1. I'm visiting Montreal next week, and always visit the JTM. I'm looking to pick up the best coffee beans Montreal has to offer, and in the past I went to Union Cafe down the street from the market. Is it still there? Is there somewhere better to try? I've bought from Cafe Brulee on St. Denis, and wasn't that impressed.

    2 Replies
    1. re: winedude

      Café Union's still there and still selling some of the better locally roasted beans.

      IMHO, the best beans in town are from out of town. My favourites are Zoka's Paladino blend sold at Caffè in Gamba and 49th Parallel's Epic blend sold at Caffè in Gamba and Veritas. Caffè ArtJava also has some tasty blends from Gimme!

      At the end of the day, though, the best store is Caffé in Gamba which has a constantly changing selection of 15 or so blends from leading and up-and-coming roasters in North America and Europe.

      For deets and addresses, see the espresso beans thread:

      1. re: carswell

        Carswell is bang on about CIG. And if you buy a pound of coffee, Jean-Francois (or maybe Luc since J-F is currently on vacation) will make you a an espresso, latte or capuccino of your choice. So if you want to buy a lb of their most excellent Zoka or almost as good PT, you can taste what you will be buying.

    2. I was just down at the Jean-Talon today, and it looks like they are starting to set up all of the outdoor stalls. My guess would be that they will take down the large cover and switch over by this weekend.

      1. Is Samy fruit Re-Opening ?
        If not where's the best deal around for fruits.

        I bought some greenhouses tomatoes from inside and it was just tasteless. Why no flavor in a blood red greenhouse tomatoe ? I was so mad at 1$ each. I should have tried one piece before.

        3 Replies
        1. re: maj54us

          Sami Fruit is closed, finished, at the Market. They have a location not terribly far away in St-Michel - on Jarry, I believe. They were always "deuxième choix" but towards the end their quality was getting very, very poor.

          For people who are really looking for bargains, one of the cheapest places is Thai Hour, an east Asian place on St-Denis at the corner of Jean-Talon, southwest corner (same side as the JTM). It is often packed, especially at times when immigrant workers (not only Asian!) are commuting. Another place, a bit farther away but still just a few minutes' walk east of the market is Mondiana, a shop run by an Arab couple (her Moroccan; him Syrian) that seems to want to become a Villeray/Petite Patrie equivalent of Segall with cheap but uneven fruit and veg, as well as organic and natural-type groceries.

          I really avoid greenhouse tomatoes this time of year - I'd tend to trust the fancy greengrocer on the southern edge of the market, Chez Louis, if I really needed some.

          1. re: lagatta

            Sami fruits, love it or hate it, they did serve a purpose... although most of the merchants in the stalls are thrilled to see them go. Sami was the only reason that JT did not become the over priced farce that Atwater has become. Count on higher prices in the stalls this season.

            Not all merchants are glad with their departure, as the higher prices will also mean that the volume of clients may diminish. Although I can not see this happening with the general popularity that this market has developed in recent years.

            Sami was at the end of their lease, and the rent for the space was increased heavily, not by fractions, but my large multiples of their then current base. The economics just were not there to continue doing what they were doing. Not a huge fan of Sami's myself, I do have to credit them with having some of the freshest mint in the city, great prices on lemons and limes, as well as being ever so grateful that they did not chop off the roots from their coriander.

            There are more than one Sami Retail locations one near Pie IX and Jarry behind Kim Phat and another one one Cure Labelle in Ste-Rose. mind you I am curious about an interesting part of their web site that is not linked from the main page...Sami is offering Free Arab dating at .

            What is with this??? I get it!!! Fruits and Dates!!!!!

            1. re: fedelst1

              Yes, I agree about Sami - both the products you mention - although I got some dry lemons and limes there towards the end - and keeping the market from becoming overly gentrified. We need working-class immigrants shopping there, not just people of means.

              I hope at least part of the premises will be rented to another greengrocer's - the boutiquey things are fun, but I can't afford to eat artisanal charcuterie every day - either from a price or cholesterol standpoint. And I'm a longterm resident of the neighbourhood. It does have us worried, though towards the end there was no longer much reason to shop at Sami.

              A fair number of niche shops around the market fail as well, or just don't seem to take off. In particular several of the ones on Casgrain. Salerno Fish closed a while back - there again, a business that had become a shadow of its old self - decades ago that was a top fishmonger's - and there is a new fishmonger's there but it is only open a few days a week - odd in terms of a business where freshness and turnover are key.

        2. Pesca fish restaurant on St-Laurent has gone belly-up. (Sorry!) It is becoming a pizzeria - seems this is a popular business venture now, no doubt because of the success of Bottega. No idea of the owners or probable quality.

          The former Spice Safar at the corner of Casgrain and ... Shamrock? - the little street between Mozart and Jean-Talon west of the market - is being reincarnated as an "Italian bistro". Less of a jumble of stuff. I'll note down the names of both of those places. Vinizza seems almost ready to open.

          As for the market stalls, a lot are already set up outside, but they haven't taken down the central winter hoardings yet. Most likely this weekend, though it seems to be turning cooler than our recent wave of warmth.

          1. Next to Chez Louis now stands a Frite Alors kiosk. I seem to remember that space was occupied for a few years by a kiosk selling crepes.

            6 Replies
            1. re: RhondaB

              Oddly, while I was at the market today, I was only at the north side and didn't see that (since I live very close by often I rush in just to get one or two specific things I need). I presume you mean a little outdoor kiosk like the crêpe people?

              Could get a bit smelly for the neighbours, though if the frites are good it would be nice to be able to take them home, still reasonably hot (in cycling season).

              Pomodoro has opened on St-Laurent where Pesca used to be - a pizza place with brick oven - no idea of quality or prices.

              1. re: lagatta

                I also noticed the Frite Alors stand while I was at the market last week.

                1. re: lagatta

                  Seems like pizza places are popping everywhere around the market these days.As for Frites Alors, as much as I love them, and they'll be good with a William J. Walter dog, the stand doesn't seem to have proper venting and the frying stench can get nauseating after a while.

                  1. re: Campofiorin

                    In concert with L'Olivier, the Tunisian shop towards the east end of the southern row of shops and stalls. They blow smoke all over the place.

                    Just got a shock to see newspaper over the windows of Caffè Italia and "closed for renovations" - but they are just closed for three days, so it looks like just a much-needed paint job. I'd hate to see that place go chichi... I'd wanted an early-morning coffee there - they open at about 5:30 am.

                    On the subject of "cheap", at the corner of Jean-Talon and St-Urbain there is a restaurant-supply type place called Les Aliments Joe. I buy 1kg tubs of goats' milk feta there for what, $12. They also have big tins, big bags of tinned, frozen, staple groceries and actually have some good extra virgin olive oil, though the stock varies.

                    I'm rather disappointed that Pesca never took off; if it had turned out well I'd been planning to take my mother there for a treat as she loves fish. Think the pizza trend is in response to the popularity of Bottega, but the quality remains to be seen.

                    1. re: lagatta

                      We visited Pesca a few months ago, when the snowbanks were 6 feet high. I had heard good things about it, but was severely disappointed. Wonder if the winds of closure were already blowing about?
                      BTW, there's a Sami in Lasalle on Lafleur. They took up the spot left vacant by Morelatos. OK, not 1st run fruits and veggies, but very good prices and quality isn't bad. They also have a large selection of nuts and within the last few weeks, dried candied fruit such as mango, cantaloupe, kiwi, pineapple, ginger, and papaya.

                  2. re: lagatta

                    I ate at Pomodoro recently. It's very pleasant and nicely decorated, but not as posh and inaccessible as the previous incarnations. The food was not too impressive, though. The amuse bouche and salad were good, but the pasta sauces were nothing special and the fish was overcooked. I didn't have any pizza, but that did look and smell very good. Another weak point was wine by the glass - your selection is "red or white"... :(