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Sep 11, 2011 09:07 AM

Vivaldi - Pierrefonds

Finally had that birthday dinner with friends and settled on Vivaldi restaurant in Pierrefonds (a big shout of thanks to fellow Chowhounder "morebubbles" who reminded me of them in this thread

I live literally a two minute walk from the place, but hadn't been there since they renovated and expanded several years ago. Though they are pretty much under my nose, I'd simply forgotten about them. Fortunately, however, a lot of folks haven't as they are doing gangbuster business, and for a good reason. Even the opening of a Casa Grecque two doors down from them hasn't appeared to have made a dent in their very brisk business.

First, their concept of an open air kitchen adds a wonderful theatrical element to dining. If you're a foodie, it's a treat to watch a battery of cooks, each at the top of their game, prepare a myriad of dishes for a bustling restaurant.

Run by brother chefs Steve and Dave, along with their father who is also a chef, everything is made to order. In a city with numerous established and up and coming chefs who are gaining international acclaim, these fellows take a back seat to no one and if they aren't on the radar of the local food scene, they really should be.

One friend had Veal Scallopini while the other had Sauteed Shrimps from the Table d'Hote menu. Both raved about how good they were.

For me, this was finally a chance to enjoy grilled octopus as a main course, instead of as an appetizer, to which most places seem to limit it. It was pure bliss. The plate consisted of a generous serving of meaty octopus legs. Juicy, melt in your mouth, with no hint of rubbery chewiness. They were delightfully charred on an open flame, lending them a tasty, crispy exterior and a soft interior. They were served sliced into bite-size portions and sprinkled with paper-thin slices of red onions and drizzled with an ever-so delicate vinaigrette and a garnish of capers. If I could, I would have licked the plate clean.

I had a choice of pasta, rice, or potatoes and vegetables as a side. I went with the pasta (linguini in a delicate home-made red sauce), which came served in a separate bowl. Again, just delightful.

Though packed and bustling, the wait staff managed to find the perfect balance of making sure clients weren't kept waiting or wanting, without ever going so far as to overdo it by constantly interrupting diners to ask if everything was ok.

The meal concluded with myself ordering a slice of their house-made chocolate cheesecake (decadent would be putting it mildy), while my two partners each had the regular home-made cheesecake drizzled with strawberry sauce and almonds, and a creme caramel.

Folks, if you live on the West Island, you really should make it a point to treat yourself by paying them a visit. If you live elsewhere, you should seriously consider making the trek. This is honestly one of Montreal's true hidden jewels.

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  1. Forgot to mention that fellow Chowhounder Troy Mercury was there at the same time. He had a reservation for 25 and they seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. I'm hoping he'll add his review as he's been here more frequently than I.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Haggisboy

      Like Haggisboy, I live a short walk from Vivaldi. I've been going there since Farfalla next to Zellers closed down. Not only is it my go-to place, it's also the place I take the old-world parents and in-laws.

      I usually have either the pizza or tortellini puttanesca (it's not on the menu, but ask and ye shall receive). This time I had the chicken with a rosemary mushroom demi-glaze. I don't like salty food, and this was perfect. Most of the people in my party had never been there before. One couple that only eats in very fancy expensive restaurants was impressed, and said they would be back in a couple of weeks. Another guy, let's call him "The Complainer", biggest complaint was that the calamari were too thick; he only ever goes to one restaurant, and endlessly points out when something is different. My mother and in-laws vacuumed up their plates. One guy returned his plate dishwasher clean.

      My only complaint about the place, which I've posted about before, is that it's the loudest restaurant I know of. High metal ceiling, brick walls, hard floors; the only thing that absorbs sound in this place are the tablecloths.

    2. Glad you enjoyed it, & great to read your review, Haggisboy. The grilled octopus sound good. And chocolate cheesecake - how wonderfully decadent! Super.
      I've taken note of the tortellini putanesca mentioned by Troy Mercury, sounds good.
      I too live walking distance to this restaurant. I usually go early to avoid crowds/noise and that works well for me.

      3 Replies
      1. re: morebubbles

        I'm a few minutes away myself and have been there twice in the past year. I highly recommend their homemade gnocchi as well as their tiramisu. Their in-home sausage though is very dry and their veal is not tender enough. I haven't tried any of their seafood. It's an ok neigbourhood Italian place, I personally wouldn't suggest a trek for anyone living more than 10 minutes away. I guess for a WI restaurant it's pretty good relative to what is out here.

        1. re: ios94

          agree 100%. I was served bruschetta, in the summer, with dried basil. The rest was ordinary, and overpriced for the quality.

          1. re: C70

            I'd hardly get down on a resto for serving bruschetta with "OMG" dried basil in the summer. I'm a lover of the "eight legged freaks" and most restos that serve it either charge through the nose or limit it to the appetizer menu. These folks not only have it as a main course, but they do a splendid job of it. And given the fact that octopus can be easily rendered as rubber if not done right, I think the fact that they got it right is more important that the perceived addition of dried basil in summer bruschetta. Trust me, I'm no shill for this place. If they had blown something in a birthday dinner on a busy night, you'd be hearing about it.

      2. I so totally agree except for one point, you should go regardless if you live in the west island or not. It had been at least 6 month since we’ve been. Again, 6th time going there and a fantastic meal. Amazing calamari/zucchini appetizer. Had the mussels which were amazing as usual. I’ve always been shy of lamb since my mom’s version (really bad!) but I decided to try it here and I’ve been changed for life! I love lamb chops! Who knew! Potato croquettes and really solid veg as well. Bu I always love my almond cake…. Go but make sure either you go really early (5 ish) or reserve a place. They are always super busy. there is a really good reason why they are…

        1. I recently tried Vivaldi's for the first time as well, being a WI resident. I really enjoyed the experience! I agree with Troy Mercury's comment about the noise level, but the ambiance and the service were just right for a dinner-before-a -movie night. I had the pasta of the day which was fresh, tasty, if a somewhat large portion, which made it home to become a midnight snack. Must try the grilled octopus next time!!

          1. I followed Chowhounders' advice and went last night to Vivaldi. Aware of the noise factor, we made a reservation for a table in a quieter corner. The service was friendly and efficient, the food was excellent and the portions quite large. Prices are quite fair. So I shall return!

            1 Reply
            1. re: carolilas

              Brother's Dave and Steve truly are brilliant chefs. Though largely unknown, I put them right up there with Montreal's best. If you go there early or in off hours before they get busy, you can easily chat with them about their craft. A few years back the younger of the two (not sure if it's Dave or Steve) even went so far as to craft an "off the menu" menu, based on Weight Watcher's points system. I don't know if he's still doing this, but given that Troy Mercury, in an earlier post, mentioned that if you ask for tortellini puttanesca, which is not on the menu, they'll whip it up for you, it wouldn't surprise me if the WW "hidden menu" is still available if you ask.