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Feb 6, 2010 01:34 PM

Mozza (Ste-Catherine @ De la Visitation) - Long, negative, review.

I recently had a fairly disapointing evening at Mozza. After reading a few reviews claiming that the place had decent food and was good value (since everything comes as a table d'hôte), I thought I'd post my own.

It must be said that the restaurant looks beautiful, has the coolest bathrooms I've ever been in, and is byow.

But the food is a lot worse than "decent". Everything comes with a ceasar salad, an app (you choose one of two appetizer offered). Three dishes also come with a desert (no choice) and tea/coffee. The fact that only three dishes featured on the menu came with desert was not entirely clear to us - and none of us picked the one of the three "full table d'hôte".

First, the unavoidable "ceasar salad". I love ceasar salad. It's not hard to make, but you still have to *make* it. Unfortunately; they're of the bottles and boxes mentality. Yes: bottled sauce and boxed croutons (the worst kind I'm sure). No anchovies, no bacon, no black pepper, and, of course, no capers. That's not a ceasar salad to me. And it's all the more frustrating since they serve it with every single dish they serve. You'd think that making your own croutons would be, at least, more economical (on top of being edible).

We all chose the same appetizer. We had to choose between the escargot (I think they always offer an escargot) and what the waitress described as a cucumber/tomato/cheese dish. That accurately described the dish, but I almost didn't touch it because I was so angry to be served something so, I don't know, church-dinner-like. It was slices of tomatoes (that had been frozen at some point), English cucumber (with skin half removed, like people used to do in the 80s when they couldn't fully commit to either keep or removing it), hard feta cheese and a olive oil/balsamic vinegar vinaigrette. I guess this was a take on the famous tomato/bocconcini/basil salad. That salad relies solely on the freshness and quality of its ingredients, something they do not seem to be aware of. I didn't think the feta mixed well with the balsamic at all. And there was not fresh basil. They sprinkled dried basil - which I thought was an abomination.

Everyone had pasta: I took the giant shrimp, scallop linguini in oil sauce. The whole thing was bathing in oil and mixed dried spices. The shrimps were ok and the scallops were actually tiny bay scallops. Not as bad as the rest of the food, but nothing I would ever want to eat again. $28

My dad had the green apple and brie pasta. It actually came with tons of dried cranberries and shrimps (which he hates - so that was not a welcomed addition). He didn't like it much. The apples were uncooked and just sitting on the side of the plate - so they were more like a garnish than a real component of the dish. $29

My sister had a sausage pasta in rosé sauce (I forget the name of that dish). She was happy with the sausage but the red sweet peppers were not cooked. Not even blanched. Again, they seemed more like a garnish like a component. Not cooking the peppers had the effect that the tastes didn't mix at all. $24 I believe.

For desert, we ordered a single "pouding chômeur". What's weird is that they call it something else. I forget the exact name, but it was spanish. So we thought we would get some sort of latin variation of the notorious Quebec desert. But it was just a good oll' pouding chômeur. It was actually very traditional and tasted like the ones made by Quebec grandmothers. You can really get the same thing for a third of the price at La Binnerie. Except that they poured cream on top. Definitely the best part of our meal, after the wine of course.

The bread was utterly uninteresting. And oh, the horror: powdered kraft parmesan. The kind that comes in a green plastic container. They didn't serve it directly from the container, but I wonder if they thought customers wouldn't notice. I don't even understand how this stuff can legally go by the name "parmesan".

The service was really nothing to rave about. The waitress made her annoyance palpable when we asked her to open our third bottle (even though it wasn't that late, and there were many empty tables).

As for price, considering that the first two dishes are not worth ordering (or eating, for that matter), I think Mozza is extremely expensive for the quality of the food they serve.

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  1. I would never, ever go back to a restaurant that served anything but Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano or Padado, fresh grated.

    1. I have never eaten a Ceasar salad that had bacon or capers in it.

      6 Replies
      1. re: anndillman

        you're missing out then
        in fact, ceasar should also always be prepared table side IMO!!!

        1. re: anndillman

          Anchovies (except the ones in Worcestershire sauce) reportedly weren't part of the original mix either, at least according to Julia Child, who claimed to have eaten the real thing, made by Caesar himself, not long after it was invented. The Wikipedia article is pretty solid.

          Have never encountered an authentic Caesar salad in a Montreal restaurant. They're always overdressed, often adulterated (herbs, bacon, capers, mayo, cream, Kraft shaky "parmesan," mozzarella, croûtons from a box, etc.) and sometimes even use mesclun instead of romaine. Too bad. The original is really one of the best proofs that less can be more.

          1. re: carswell

            rib n reef does a great table side one (fan of table side ceasar salad)

            1. re: carswell

              "according to Julia Child, who claimed to have eaten the real thing, made by Caesar himself, not long after it was invented"

              1. re: porker

                You do realize that the "Caesar" in Caesar Salad refers to Caesar Cardini, restaurateur, not Julius Caesar, don't you?

            2. re: anndillman

              I would probably welcome the capers but the bacon is an abomination. They should name it something else if they put bacon in it.

            3. I'm not really sure what you are complaining about - the fact that you didn't like the food (for personal reasons -- like your dad not liking shrimp, so the dish lost it's appeal there) or the fact that the food was actually bad. Also, classic Caesar salad does not have bacon in it- never did, and I may be wrong but I also don't think anchovies are in the picture. Your dad's past sounds weird to start off with - ordering "green apple and brie" pasta is daring off the bat.
              The only thing that seems atrocious is the quality and provenance of the cheese. Kraft? that's an insult to the paying customer.

              1 Reply
              1. re: maisonbistro

                as unfathomable as it is, some consider brie and apple a law of nature but that's besides the point. if it doesn't say shrimp, it shouldn't come with shrimp! what of those with seafood allergies!? oy vey. this restaurant sounds like a disaster.

              2. Interesting. Quebec and France, it would seem like, have a different way of preparing the ceasar salad. While the wiki entry for it has a picture of the salad with chicken in it, it would never be expected to be served that way in Quebec.

                If you look up a recipe for ceasar salad on the Internet or in a French cookingbook, it is common, if not standard, to see it contain anchovies (anchovy paste in the dressing and anchovy filets on top), bacon (or lardon) and sometimes capers. Arlequino in Montreal serves its Ceasar salad with big capers. Vieux Duluth also had anchovies and capers. I don't mean to say that these two restaurants (especially the last one!) set the standards, just that it's not that uncommon. Despite the wiki entry, many non-franco recipes also seem to use anchovies (including the one on this site). Quebecers and French will add porc on anything, so that's not too surprising.

                Having said all this, I might have been too quick in judging them for what I thought was an oversimplified ceasar as it would seem like these are not standard items. The boxed croutons, jarred dressing and "parmesan" just sent me over the edge...

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