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Looking for an italian restaurant near downtown montreal

Hey Chowhound, girlfriend's birthday this saturday and I was planning to go to buenna notte, but apparently they told me that diners must be at least 21 yo? Can anyone tell me if this is true..?

I also then considered Da Emma, but it seems like the reviews are mixed, however old montreal would be nice.

Preferably something closeby to McGill, because she has an exam to study for so we don't want to spend too much time travelling.


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  1. 21 ??? weird. We can start legally boozing at 18 in Québec.

    Anyway, don't go to Buena Notte...

    you can try Graziella on McGill (old-Montreal)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Maximilien

      Buonannote is a "supperclub", and clubs can set their own rules. The 21+ rule is pretty much the norm at resto-bars in Old Montreal, such as Santos and Philemon.

      It's not uncommon in other cities, either.

    2. Nora Gray on St-Jacques near Montagne isn't too far either, but not old montreal

      1. Da Emma, I was hesitant recently too because of the mixed reviews but it didn't disappoint, far from as I can't wait to go back. Picky eaters like my SO enjoyed it immensely so in case your gf isn't too adventurous it should be a safe bet.

        Try to get a reservation for about 7PM if you can, it wasn't busy yet but as the night went on and it got more full the service started to suffer. I think it suffers due to the amount of time the waiter needs to spend explaining the chalkboard menus to each table, they need to fix that. But their dishes are straight forward and are done right. Search for other reviews on here. I wanted to try Nora Gray but SO probably wouldn't be too crazy about the menu.

        1. Da Vinci on rue Bishop is another good Italian option,

          1. What are the prices like at Graziella or Da Emma, I"m kind of leaning towards those now. I'd rather travel to old montreal than rue bishop probably!

            3 Replies
            1. re: .alias

              I can't speak for Graziella, although I'm betting prices are up there too. Da Emma, you are looking at pastas from $20-$25, mains $28+, dessert $10. What's your budget?

              1. re: .alias

                Can't see them being much more expensive then Buenna notte.

                1. re: AlexCV

                  Might not be much more expensive, but they are an awful lot better than Buona Notte...

              2. I attended a function last night at restaurant Apollo (on rue University), and I enjoyed both the food and the service there.

                1 Reply
                1. re: dmarg

                  Apollo himself is italian, but his restaurant is not...

                2. Medusa, 1224, rue Drummond. Always a good bet actually.

                  1. Chez Ennio is an italian BYOW near Guy-Concordia metro and is probably the kitchiest italian experience in the galaxy (in the best sense in the word). Excellent handmade pastas, generous portions, great price and great service in the kingdom of stucco, oil paintings and tchotchkes of all kinds.

                    Its pretty much the anti buenna notte though.

                    Reservations are recommended.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: CaptCrunch

                      I cycled by Ennio not long ago and thought it looked cute in an old-fashioned red-sauce way; it sounds like it could be a good bet if gf has a good sense of humour about kitschy décor. It certainly isn't far from McGill - just a bit west, certainly walkable or a short bicycle (on cycle path) or métro ride - one or two stations.

                      I was wondering whether the food was any good.

                      Buonanotte by the way (just mentioning spelling for internet searches). Buena is Spanish.

                      1. re: lagatta

                        This restaurant was started in the 70's, when "red sauce" was considered classic italian... and never changed!

                        The food is great. Its a guy and his wife that has been cooking together for 30 years, Every time I go there Ennio (the owner and chef) does table service, cooking and greeting. You pay interact near the kitchen and everything is very clean. Pasta are made fresh and nothing I ate was off (everyone was raving about their dish). Portions are huge!

                        They even have off the menu items (like osso bucco) if you call ahead to give him time to go buy the meat.

                    2. You already have a lot of good recommandations, but Venti in the Old Montreal is another great one. Graziella and Da Emma are probably far more romantic though!

                      1. Chesterman just posted a review of Da Emma on the Gazette...


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Maximilien

                          Yeah, it'll likely be weeks before things settle down at Da Emma...

                          I second Glaff's rec on Venti - try to snag a seat at the bar fronting the kitchen if you want a show, (but then again, young and with girlfriend...) a table if you wanna be cozy.
                          Ennio: I like the concept, kitsch and all, eccentric chef owner. The food (IMO) was neither great nor poor, but perhaps average. Although I certainly like the Capt's suggestion of ordering off-menu by calling ahead, pretty cool! Will keep this in mind.