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Jun 28, 2004 06:38 PM

Good restaurant in Little Italy?

  • f

Hi -- I'm wondering if there is any good eating to be had in Littly Italy. Places I've tried so far (not many) have been overpriced with mediocre food. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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  1. Where have you tried and what are you looking for?

    We love Lucca on Dante for their divine mushroom risotto, seafood pasta and great service but, they are a bit on the expensive side and the diningroom can get loud.

    1. Cafe Dante, on Dante across from the church.


      1. Primo e Secundo - one block east of St Laurent, two blocks South of Jean Talon......Street name escapes me for some reason right now. Next to firestation.

        Cafe International - St Laurent and St Zootique - for a simple clean light lunch. Or late night grappa.

        Pizza & BYO at Pizza Neapolitana on Dante.... mighty good thin crust...

        1. Quelli della note still exists?

          1. After reviewing various options, we decided on Primo e Secundo. I thought I would give a little report on our experience.

            My wife and I arrived around 7:30 and were the first people in the restaurant. The menu is written in chalk on a blackboard on the wall, and we looked it over before deciding to eat there. As in many Italian restaurants, there are three courses: appetizers, pasta dishes, and meat dishes. The meat dishes ranged from $30 to a bit over $40, which was more than we wanted to spend, but the appetizers and pasta dishes seemed reasonable enough, ranging from $10 to $15.

            The food was very good, I thought. I had a cold sliced veal appetizer that I liked, though I thought the sauce was a bit too strong for the mild veal. My wife had grilled vegetables with melted taleggio cheese on top – successful dish. My pasta dish was really outstanding: fettuccini with several different mushrooms in a slightly creamy sauce with a bit of truffle oil. It was excellent – certainly the best dish of the night. My wife ordered penne with small little meatballs and ricotta cheese, which was good but not great.

            The wine list begins at $28 and goes way up from there. Mostly Italian wines, and lots of good options. We ordered a Tuscan wine at $36. The waiter took the wine list away and went to get the bottle, but returned soon after saying he was out of that wine, and suggesting an alternative that he liked "à plus ou moins le même prix." It was a fine choice.

            The service was friendly and began quite attentively, though it tapered off noticeably as the restaurant filled up. It was getting so slow, in fact, that by the time our dishes were cleared we decided to abandon dessert. We eventually got the waiter’s attention to ask for the check.

            When the check arrived, it came with a most unpleasant surprise. The pasta dishes had gone up by $10 per dish – and were marked with a notation (md), meaning, I learned, main dish. The waiter had not mentioned any price increase, nor had the menu (on the wall) made any mention. When I asked, he responded that he had asked us if we wanted the pasta dishes as our main course, and we had said yes. Of course, he had not mentioned that by saying yes we would be charged more.

            As for the wine, we had been charged not $36 but $45 – a 25% increase that seemed well outside the "more or less same price" he had quoted.

            All told, with tax and tip, with a starter and pasta dish each and a bottle of wine – no meat dish, no dessert, no mineral water – the bill came out to $150, which seemed excessive given our order. But it was really the way that price of the meal increased, unbeknownst to me, in a manner I consider quite underhanded, that left an unpleasant taste in my mouth – unpleasant enough, alas, to overpower the taste left by the high-quality food.

            3 Replies
            1. re: François

              I am quote surprised and embarrased - having recommended them - that you were treated less than honorably. After many dinners in Little Italy - with company ordering a mixture of dishes including pasta only, I've never heard of anyone being charged more than what is posted on the blackboard. Perhaps I have not paid attention! But together with the wine bait-and-switch is quite disturbing. I think it CAN be an excellent restaurant but that kind of behavior is not tolerable in Little Italy - anywhere for that matter. I will print out your experience and present it to them next time and demand an explanation.

              May I suggest Cafe Dante next. In spite of name - it's not a "Cafe" - indeed menu and "idea" is similar to Primo e Secundo. With exceedingly attentive and competent service.

              It would have been my first recommendation anyway - I should have been more explicit about that.

              1. re: GTH

                Please don't feel responsible or embarrassed. I much appreciated the recommendations. I did some of my own research before deciding on Primo, which had several good write-ups. The decision was entirely ours, and I certainly do not blame you or anyone on this board, which I have found immensely helpful as we explore Montreal (having moved here in the last year). I just thought it might be helpful for others if we posted our experience -- which may or may not be representative.

                I will certainly try Caffe Dante. Thanks again for your help.

                1. re: GTH

                  Sorry for a late reply, but I just wanted to join in on the comment about Cafe Dante. We love the food and people. It's a must on every visit to Montreal (heading North tomorrow).