They say Old Montreal is the most European part of this city, but we respectfully disagree, and boldly proclaim that it's the kitchens of these fine Italian restaurants that are the most European part of this city (... some of which are in Old Montreal).
The 11 Best Italian Restaurants in Montreal
What you're getting: Any kind of risotto
Located right next to Jean-Talon Market, Primo lacks a fixed menu, going the "cucina stagionale" or seasonal route, with all the available foods written on the restaurant's large blackboards. Given the restaurant's ever-changing dishes, it's difficult to recommend a single one, though it's famed for its risotto.
What you're getting: Trippa Della Nonna
Some Italian restaurants stick to the old-school dishes and don't veer very far from what their family has been making for years. Inferno is definitely not that type of Italian resto. With a mix of traditional Italian dishes and original creations, the menu is always changing according to the season, and always impresses. One dish that has been a feature of the Inferno menu since day one is the Trippa Della Nonna, a tripe dish served in tomato sauce. Don't let your squeamish eating habits influence your ordering habits if you're grossed out by tripe, there's a reason the Trippa Della Nonna is a mainstay of the Inferno menu: it's legitimately delicious.
What you're getting: A stuffed pasta
Specializing in Southern Italian cuisine, the chefs behind Nora are Emma Cardarelli, a prominent Montreal-based chef; and Ryan Gray, a reputable sommelier and mixologist. In Nora Gray, the two have combined their skills to create an all-around amazing Italian restaurant whose list of wine & cocktails is only surpassed by the food. Be sure to order some of the restaurant's stuffed pasta dishes, made in-house. Previous plates have included Agnolotti stuffed with nduja & mascarpone; ravioli filled with burrata and egg yolk; and pea and goat's milk ricotta tortellini.
What you're getting: Squash and poppy seed gnocchi (or any brunch dish)
Fit for Mile End (read: hip), Barcola is a small resto-bar that prides itself on making dishes reminiscent of of meals made in Northern Italy. Each and every day, Head Chef Fabrizio Caprioli creates a menu featuring just three appetizers and three mains. A large part of Barcola's culinary reputation stems from the restaurant's original creation of squash and poppy seed gnocchi topped with butter, sage, and smoked ricotta. Also, few Italian eateries break into the brunch scene, but Barcola goes there, and with dishes like home-smoked salmon eggs Benedict, you'll be glad it did.
What you're getting: The veal chop
Perhaps one of the most renowned Italian restaurants in all of Montreal, Da Emma has been pleasing taste buds for the last 23 years under the guidance of chef and co-owner Emma Risa. What makes Risa's food so good? Well, she IS the traditional old Italian lady who makes amazing Italian food, except you don't need to be a friend of the family to enjoy her cooking, just go to Da Emma. Built out of an old women's prison, the Old Montreal restaurant is very inviting despite its past, as is the large wine cellar, but what will keep you coming to Da Emma is the fantastic food.
What you're getting: Porchetta Del Nonno
Two veritable culinary giants joined forces in creating Impasto; Stefano Faita, a best-selling cookbook writer and television chef, and Michele Forgione, the head chef behind the now-closed (but once very popular) Venti Osteria. Impasto wows its clientele with its modern Italian specialties, while also not being afraid to create simple-yet-satisfying dishes, like its Michigan-style homemade hot dog. Famous at Impasto is the Porchetta Del Nonno, a scrumptious porchetta roast served with vanilla pear, the perfect sweet side to complement the salty-fatty flavour of the meat.
What you're getting: Gelato d'Oro
Next to everything is made in-house at Tartufo d'Oro, from the pasta and calzones, to the gelato, so all the food tastes quite fresh, and the menu boasts a varied selection of memorable dishes to enjoy. Start your meal off with the Antipasto Rustico, a charcuterie and cheese selection paired with the restaurant's homemade focaccia (the secret star of the dish), then move on to herbed goat cheese ravioli and pappardelle with braised lamb bolognese for your mains.
What you're getting: The arugula thin-crust pizza
Nothing is inauthentic at Elio Pizzeria. Operating out of the same large-but-quaint space for the past 50 years, everything at Elio's is old-school Italian. The pasta is all made in-house, the perfectly sweet tomato sauce (from using fresh tomatoes, not adding sugar) is prepared daily, and Elio's famously thin and crispy pizza crusts are crafted with the special care that can only come from experienced hands.
What you're getting: Petite-Nation Bison rib eye
A pseudo-reincarnation of the much-loved Italian restaurant Il Mulino, Hostaria has been serving up quality Italian food since 2012, all in an atmosphere that exudes the comfort of home. Known for its incredibly friendly and attentive service, Hostaria does just as well in the food and drink department, with a well-stocked wine cellar right in the middle of the restaurant. It boasts a varied menu, and what you need to order is the Petite-Nation Bison rib eye, a true triumph to red meat everywhere.
What you're getting: The Roman-style pizza
New to the Mile End area, Farine is an Italian-style bakery specializing in freshly baked breads, sweets, Roman-style pizza, and piattini (Italian for "small plate"). Preparing its own pasta, charcuterie, and even its own sodas, Farine has quickly become a neighborhood favourite known for using fresh ingredients and creating unique pizzas, salads, and sandwiches with inspired flavour profiles.
What you're getting: Short rib
A short walk from Champ-de-Mars station is Salumi Vino, an Italian restaurant that prides itself on using authentic Italian recipes. Oh, and wine, as the name suggests. If it's on the menu, order the rabbit with Parmesan mashed potato, though the short rib is just as good; being braised in red wine for eight hours. Folks who are going to Salumi Vino for a late-night snack (the place is open until 2am) should opt for the Salumi di Casa e Fromaggio, a platter filled with the restaurant's homemade cured meats and a selection of quality cheeses.
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1. Primo & Secondo7023 rue St-Dominique, Montreal
2. Restaurant Inferno6850 Rue St Dominique, Montreal
3. Nora Gray1391 Rue St-Jacques, Montreal
4. Barcola Bistro5607 Ave du Parc, Montreal
5. Restaurant Da Emma777 De La Commune Rue O, Montreal
6. Impasto48 Dante, Montreal
7. Ristorante Tartufo D'Oro6961 Saint-Laurent Blvd, Montreal
8. Elio Pizzeria351 Rue de Bellechasse, Montreal
9. Hostaria236 St-Zotique E, Montreal
10. Farine102 Rue Saint-Viateur O, Montreal
11. Salumi Vino358 Rue Notre-Dame Est, Montreal
You won't find conventional menus at Primo. Their menu regularly adjusts to reflect what is available in season, and is written on blackboards in the restaurant. Regardless of the seasonal changes, the risottos are always among the best dishes
The menu at Inferno is a blend of Italian classics and more original dishes, offering Antipasto Inferno and the signature Trippa Della Nonna -- a family recipe for tripe with tomato sauce. If you can get over thinking tripe is gross, this dish has been on the menu so long for a reason.
Emma Cardarelli, a prominent chef, and Ryan Grey, a sommelier & mixologist, came together to create a menu of food with perfect pairings of wine or cocktails. The menu includes Southern Italian inspired dishes like Atlantic Halibut with corn & pepper, Zucchini risotto with grilled mushrooms & pine nuts, and Squid ink scarpinocc with lobster sausage and bisque, while the drink menu covers wines, beer, cocktails, and liquors.
This small space fits perfectly into the hip atmosphere of Mile End, and serves food that is inspired by Northern Italian cuisine. Notable for their new-everyday menu (with only three appetizers and three entrees) and for serving brunch (a unique treat at an Italian resto), it's definitely worth checking out.
This welcoming restaurant is located in a former women's prison in Old Montreal, but has been a popular restaurant for over 20 years. The chef and co-owner Emma Risa cooks traditional Italian food the way she always has, and shares it with the public -- along with a major wine cellar.
The product of a joint effort by Stefano Faita and Michele Forgione, Impasto serves updated Italian dishes (like Porchetta del nonno: porchetta roast served with vanilla pear) along with simple dishes (like a Michigan-style homemade hot dog).
Tatufo d'Oro prides itself on making nearly everything homemade, includes breads, pastas, and gelato. The rustic, fresh food is definitely something to remember.
For over 50 years Elio has been serving old-school, authentic Italian and their famous thin crust pizzas. Pasta, pizza, and sauce are handmade in-house daily, ensuring fresh flavors.
The welcoming atmosphere, friendly service, and great food at Hostaria is only accentuated by the well-stocked wine cellar, which is right in the middle of the restaurant (!!).
The unique menu at Farine is made up of many house-made pastas, breads, pizzas, charcuterie, and even soda. They also serve 'piattini,' Italian small plates similar to the more well known 'tapas' trend.