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Dad's B-Day Dinner - Montreal

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Hi Montreal-hounds,

It's my dad's b-day this Tuesday and he will be joining my brother in Montreal for the week for some festivities in our favorite city. We are no strangers to Montreal - I lived there for 5 years, my bro has been there 2 years now and both our parents hail from Mtl.

That being said, I'm looking for something outside the main choices for a nice dinner as a gift - with the caveat that Italian is about ethnic as things can get. My dad is an adventurous and voracious eater, but rarely without me there to drag him into anything originating West of the Pacific (sushi, Thai, Vietnamese...).
He has done all the big names that I was familiar with when I left Montreal 5 years ago so I am looking for ideas - it would also be nice if I could pay/buy a gift certificate from California to save my brother some of the expense...
Travel is not an issue as both he and my brother have vehicles and are very comfortable with the Metro.

Here's a quick list of what's been done in recent years to avoid duplication:

Chez l'Epicier - loved it, but have done it ALOT
Toque - really did not enjoy
APDC - done a few times now, likes it, but is getting old
Club Chasse et Peche - really liked this one
Queue de Cheval - good, but way too overpriced for his tastes
Tsirco - didn't really care for the atmosphere, enjoyed the food
Au P'tit Extra - liked the food, hated the elbow-to-elbow atmosphere
Katsura - before it closed, I got him out here quite a few times
Bato Thai - prime example of too much atmosphere, good food, but he couldn't concentrate since our male servers had "dresses and makeup on..."

He also loves a bunch of old Italian restos and a Portuguese resto around the Crescent/Bishop area, but my brother and I try to avoid that area like the plague...

Thanks a lot for any suggestions!

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  1. what about Lucca on Dante in little italy.
    the atomsphere is nice but not stuffy.. and lots of room between tables.
    great filet mignon, fish and pastas.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jarschef

      Finally, they decided to go to Lucca.

      Still haven't got the rundown on the exact dishes, but both were really impressed with well-prepared, simple dishes. Also, my dad thought the wine list was well fleshed out with rarer-Italian choices.

      Thanks again all!

      1. re: jarschef

        Lucca on Dante in Little Italy is probably one the best Italian restaurants in Montreal.
        It's small, Cozy, and super friendly staff.. Menu can be found on a blackboard. They change up the menu often which is nice.

      2. Off the top of my head, Da Emma or Graziella in Old Montreal might both be good choices. La Montee is outstanding, IMHO. Laloux, Lemeac, Decca 77, Europea would probably also work well.

        1. Jolifou is great.

          1. Lucca, 12 Dante, B'day dinner last nite. Very disappointing. This was one of our favourite Italian restos - intimate (although noisy), adventuresome Italian eating. I knew when I walked in that things were going to be different. The menu featured nothing really interesting (pretty much the same as indicated in recent posts). The food was good - just not much better than a good home cook could make. The calamari were tasty, the arugala salad was fine (how can it be bad?) but the balsamic squirts had sugar in them - makes cheaper vinegar thicker. For mains we had the veal chop - good with very good polenta, but again nothing original in this and the linguini pasta had clams that should have been tossed out long before the chef tossed them in a frying pan. I brought them back (right, no one came and asked us how we liked the food) and they sent over a few more shrimp. Dessert was tiramisu which was acceptable - again nothing to rave about. The toilets were blocked up all night so I walked over the Café Italia to use theirs. I was offered a grappa to compensate. Bill was about $100 each with wine, taxes and tip. In a small mid-western town where an Italian family had once passed though, this would have been a great meal. In Montreal, I'd drop their star rating to two or less.