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Jul 1, 2010 01:18 PM

Little Italy suggestions..

- Mid-priced ie. not more than $50/pers, total.

- Preferably byow but don't let that influence as I realize it's limiting!

- Extra points for patio / terrace seating, but again not mandatory...

- No fancy haute decor or anything, not looking for oversized dining room with folded white table cloths and floor-to-ceiling windows... prefer something small, discreet and intimate. Looking for neighborhood atmosphere and charm.

- Great homestyle pastas, risoto, pizza, etc.. market fresh ingredients, perfectly executed, nothing over the top. Could be trad. red sauce style or something more inventive...

Any recommendations?

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  1. If you don't insist on BYOW or patio or a discreet and intimate atmosphere, then Vinizza. If you do, then nothing.

    6 Replies
    1. re: thelonious777

      Thanks but not really what I'm looking for at all with the lcd flat screens and marble counters... BYOW is not necessary nor is patio seating but the intimate homestyle/neighborhood atmosphere is a must.

      I'm thinking along the lines of what Piatta Della Nonna used to be pre-Amherst relocation with the chalkboard menus and small tables... the sort of place you'd find in Manhattan's Little Italy where you'd sit by candleight watching people pass by on the street.

      Not going for fancy or grandeur... just high quality fresh ingredients and preparation with a little evening atmosphere. I guess it doesn't absolutely HAVE to be in the neighborhood either, if anyone can think of something similar to what I've described elsewhere.

      1. re: OliverB

        I guess if nobody can offer any suggestions, I might just do the courtyard at Il Cortile... a bit more upscale and formal than as described above but a nice outdoor setting for a warm evening.

        1. re: OliverB

          While it might be bit pricier, and isn't in Little Italy, have you considered Da Emma? They have a great outdoor patio, and the portions are large enough to easily be shared. And the food fits your description perfectly.

          1. re: cherylmtl

            I didnt know D.E. had an outdoor patio... the interior's a bit fancied up for what we want but main reason I was avoiding is because we're already having more than one meail in the area and as she's from out of town, I'd like to mix things up. Is Il Cortile worthwhile? I was there for an afternoon party two summer's ago with a fixed menu and had a great time but haven't been since to order a la carte..

            1. re: OliverB

              Il Cortile is consistently good, at this time of year especially, it's a great location.

              1. re: superbossmom

                Thanks superbossmom!

                It's settled... Il Cortile for a late evening dinner in the courtyard next week!

    2. For another option - Melora Koepke reviewed this place in Little Italy (with a terasse) last month in The Hour:

      Basi Bistro Italien

      That said, I've eaten with a group at Il Cortile and it was a really stunning terasse. The food was great, though I found everything quite expensive for what it was. (Pasta I could easily make at home.) But the service was good and it was a memorable evening.

      1. I've actually had enjoyable evenings with friends at the very red-saucy Enrico, which is a byow and has tables out front on St-Zotique. Lots of neighbourhood atmosphere, but nothing inventive at all. (Il Piatto pieno is far worse).

        I have a QUESTION, more than a suggestion. I've seen lots of people happily eating at Nonno's Trattoria (southwest corner Mozart and St-Laurent, now a byow) and read some decent reviews of it. Earlier reviews were mixed at best.

        To be honest, it is a pity how few good and reasonably-priced Italian restaurants there are in my neighbourhood!

        We do like the little café Zitto e mangia at the corner of Clark and St-Zotique (where the 55 bus stops) but to be honest, their Salvadorean offerings top their Italian ones... The young people who run it are the children of a Salvadorean + Italian couple. It is a lovely space, and BYOW.

        7 Replies
        1. re: lagatta

          I agree with you lagatta that it's a shame(to put it mildly, I often use terms like frustrating or ridiculous) how few good Italian options are in Little Italy. And I do agree on Zitto e mangia, the pupusa is great, then you get your pancetta and zuccini pasta and it's like meh. I've just put Enrico on my list thanks. Tre Marie also does the job, not BYO, but the wine list is reasonnable.

          Didn't know Nonno's was BYO now, may be worth a try, I'm also desperate for better options in the neighbourhood!

          1. re: sweettoothMTL

            Sweettooth, here is a recent positive review of Nonno's, though I don't know anything about this food blog:

            I've only had snacks there (squid, octopus and a salad) with a friend. We thought those were good, but Sarah Musgrave, while agreeing about the starters, didn't think the main dishes were all there when she visited, not long after Nonno's opened. We also found our carafe of house wine very expensive - in part our own fault as we didn't ask the price.

            Now, of course, that is moot, as there is an SAQ right across the street (keep opening hours in mind though).

            Confess that my usual restaurants for casual suppers with friends aren't Italian: Le Petit Alep of course, and Pho Tay Ho and Nhu Y, equidistant from my house in opposite directions.

            And even if I felt like spending more, I think I might opt for Kitchen Galerie if we could get reservations.

            I actually remember when Da Baffoni (the worst of all worlds) was a small, inexpensive trattoria with good homestyle food - it was either a byow or had cheap house wine. No, I do NOT recommend that place under any circumstances.

            And as you say, Enrico and Tre Marie "do the job" but I wouldn't go out of my way to eat at either.

            Kitchen Galerie
            60 Rue Jean-Talon E, Montreal, QC H2R1S5, CA

            1. re: lagatta

              Tre Marie has gone seriously used to be a pretty good/authentic place and now its just a disaster...last time I went I was served cold soup, and they forgot to put dressing on my salad...honestly it was barely edible, nevermind enjoyable.
              Sorry that I can't be of more help to the OP, but coming from an Italian family, I scarcely eat out for Italian other than for pizza (in which case, Bottega!)

              65 Rue Saint-Zotique E, Montreal, QC H2S1K7, CA

          2. re: lagatta

            Enrico is a good choice to keep the cost reasonable since it is BYO. The pasta dishes are standard but well done. The veggie pizza was excellent recently. It doesn't have a patio but I believe they open the front window doors for an open feel.

            1. re: hungryann

              They also have a few tables in front, on the sidewalk.

            2. re: lagatta

              Tried Nonno's with friends this past weekend and was not particularly impressed. We were looking to feed a craving for delicious and heavy pasta/pizza somewhere where we could bring our own wine. We called the always good, "Piatto Pieno" but they were completely booked, so we figured we would try Nonno's. The atmosphere is very banquet hall-esque, filled with families, kids, and little babies. Pizza was comparable to a 99 cent pizza, but with a double heaping of arugula on top, the gnocchi was fair, and the fried shrimp was OK (but it's fried, so how bad could it be?). One of our dinner guests ordered the table d'hote, so we all shared his tiramisu...meh at best. The bill was 40 bucks for one margherita pizza with arugula, and gnocchi. We won’t be back in the foreseeable future.

              1. re: BlueSteak

                I don't know what it would take to improve the offer around here... it is annoying and almost embarassing not having better reasonably-priced Italian places in the neighbourhood to suggest to visitors.

            3. Lucca - Il Piatto Pieno - Bottega - Napoltitana

              65 Rue Saint-Zotique E, Montreal, QC H2S1K7, CA

              2 Replies
              1. re: BlueSteak

                Could you explain your reasons for each of those? (please check your spelling on the last one as it is important for people searching on the net). Lucca strikes me as more expensive than the budget requested.

                1. re: lagatta

                  Lucca is indeed a bit formal and upscale for what I'm going for.

                  I've never been to Piatto Pieno but online reviews are not good and it isn't the atmosphere I want either.

                  Love the pizza at Bottega but it doesn't fit the requirements either as it's neither intimate, nor outdoors or byow and it's really more of a pizzeria than a place to eat out for Italian cuisine.

                  Napolitana falls under the same category... despite the criticisms on this board, I think their pizzas are excellent (if overpriced) but it's all that's offered in the way of decent to quality meals (not a place to go for pasta dishes, meats, etc) and the atmosphere is anything but intimate; long line-ups, loud and noisy, etc.

                  Was hoping to find the type of small lower Manhattan street-side neighborhood trattoria that offers a great, fresh menu... but I guess we just don't have that here in Montreal.

                  Basi Bistro sounds interesting though and I'm adding it to my list to try this summer...

                  65 Rue Saint-Zotique E, Montreal, QC H2S1K7, CA

              2. PS - Think of the classic spaghetti scene in Lady and The Tramp, that's the kind of place I want to find (serving great food!) :-)