This café is a Montreal classic, Italian or not! In the heart of Little Italy, Café San Simeon is one of the best Italian coffee shops in the city for a few reasons; it’s perfectly well-rounded, offers an ideal atmosphere for enjoying a laid back and comfortable coffee break, has a beautiful decor, and of course, really delicious Italian coffees. This neighbourhood favourite screams “family business”, which only adds to the charm. Open every day of the week from 6am to 3am, it’s always the right time for a visit to San Simeon.
The Best Italian Cafés in Montreal : Coffee, cannolis and so much more
Everyone is well aware of the strong culinary associations between Montreal and France, but we’re here to remind you all of the amazing presence of Italian gastronomic culture that has left its imprint on all corners of the city. One of the many ways that we like to enjoy these Italian culinary influences is by paying a visit to one of our favourite Italian cafés in the city… and there are just so many of them.
To help out with the curation of this list, we had the pleasure of speaking with Piero Ciampoli, a barista who spent years behind the bar at one of Montreal’s top Italian cafés. Piero pointed us in the direction of the addresses that are not only wonderful places to re-caffeinate, but also authentically Italian, in one way or another.
To be considered one of the best Italian cafés in the city, it takes much more than just having delicious coffee. Of course, delicious and high quality Italian coffee is a necessity, but as Piero points out, so is having a blend of the right atmosphere, service and unique family spirit.
If you’re wondering about the difference between new generation coffee and Italian coffee, we learnt from Piero that the secret is in the taste. While new generation coffee is characterized by its fruitier flavour, Italian coffees are more bold and bitter.
All of the cafés featured on this list go above and beyond what we’d consider a good Italian café – they’re great.
Without further ado, here is our list of Montreal’s best Italian cafés:
If you’re a fan of all things Italian (as we are), you may want to have a look at our list of the best Italian restaurants in the city. And if you’re only here for the coffee, you’re sure to love our list of the best spots to find a great iced coffee in Montreal!
Do you know of an Italian café that should be featured on this list? Write to us at [email protected] to let us know! We love hearing suggestions from our readers.
Caffe Italia is old school – a tried and true classic. This spot has been around longer than almost all of the other addresses, and its longevity is a true testament to its quality. According to Piero, this was the go-to café for the first wave of new Italian immigrants in Montreal, and it became a bit of a pillar of the community. Since it opened in 1956, the café hasn’t really changed all that much, aside from the addition of television screens. To this day, most of the clientele are Italians themselves, and their ages span across generations. We love coming here on Saturday mornings to witness all of the hustle and bustle. Caffè Italia is open every day of the week, from 6am to 11pm.
This address can be best described as a hybrid between Café Italia and Café San Simeon, but with a notably younger clientele. Piero explained how this spot started off very small and sold nothing but coffee, but eventually grew to sell a wider selection of drinks and lunchtime sandwiches and snacks. People come to Milano primarily to drink coffee and watch sports, mainly because the atmosphere is so relaxed and homey. Café Milano is open everyday of the week, 24 hours a day, which means that it has become a favourite for nightclub-goers to grab a coffee and a satisfying meal after a late night out on the town.
For Piero, Olimpico was the café he and his family grew up with – “it’s always stayed the same… it’s a staple.” Everything about Olimpico is feels authentic, especially when there’s a soccer game on tv. Having opened in 1970, this spot is another one of the oldest hangouts for the Montreal Italian community, and we consider it to be one of Montreal’s institutions. The beauty of Olimpico is made up in the details; charming baristas who are great at what they do, a beautiful terrace in the summer months and just all around good vibes all year long. Olimpico is open from 6am until 12am, everyday of the week. Please note that they have since opened two new locations, one of which is in Old Montreal and the other right downtown.
This address is always busy, and for good reason. Thanks to its location, surrounded by both residential and industrial areas, this café is especially unique. The clientele is made up of a combination of industrial workers and families, creating a special atmosphere where everyone feels welcome and at home. The coffee here is delicious, their selection of paninis and salads are perfect for a quick lunch, and the terrace is a great spot for hanging out and sipping on a caffeinated beverage. The Ciociaro Sports Bar is open every day of the week, from 6:30am until 3am.
This Italian café is chic and elegant. Embracing the essence of northern Italy, a visit to San Gennaro may just make you want to plan a trip to Rome. The beautiful decor was the project of Annie Lebel, and it is a key factor in what makes this spot stand out from the rest! Since it opened in 2015, San Gennaro has been serving a little bit of everything – pizzas, salads, pastries, homemade gelati, and of course, coffee. Open from Tuesday until Sunday, from 7am until 7pm on weekdays and 9am until 7pm on weekends.
An absolute Montreal must-see. Almost immediately after owner Vito Azzue, an Olimpico veteran, opened up café Vito in Villeray, it was a soaring success. This is a family owned business, which only adds to authentically Italian atmosphere that made us and so many others fall in love with this place as soon as it opened. Every customer that walks through the door is treated like a regular, which makes this café an energizing place to visit for more reasons than just the caffeine kick! We also highly recommend their iced coffees – so good! Café Vito is open from 6am until 11pm, seven days a week.
Campanelli is nothing less than a manifestation of Tony Campinelli himself. Charming, charismatic, and just a little unpredictable. Everyone who walks through the door is treated like a member of the family, and the result is a loyal customer base that is in a constant state of growth. This place offers one of the best Italian coffees in Montreal, excellent sandwiches and a few desserts. We need to give a special shoutout to the lemon pie! Campanelli is open from Monday to Saturday, from 7am until 5pm on weekdays, and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.
This charming little café-counter in Villeray is one of our favourites! With a warm decor and very friendly and attentive staff, you’ll always feel comfortable and welcome at Pinocchio Café! We come here to drink super delicious Italian coffee, as well as enjoy great sandwiches and classic Italian sweets. This address is open every day of the week, from 6:30am to 9pm.
The hidden gem of the Italian café scene, La Dispensa doubles up as both a café and a depanneur. Here, you can eat in house, grab a coffee or get a pasta dish to go. The versatility is great. Piero explained to us that the name means “a little bit of everything”, and that sums up this address perfectly. In the heart of Old Montreal, La Dispensa will sweep you away to Europe for the afternoon with their quaint and charming interior, fresh food and coffee and laid back style. Stop in at any time between 7:30am and 6:30pm on weekdays, or 8:30am and 4:30pm on Saturdays.
Only a few steps away from the Jean-Talon Market, café Ferlucci is simply adorable! Here, you’ll find a dynamic and youthful crowd, outgoing baristas and a truly welcoming and family-friendly atmosphere. The decor is elegant and makes for an extremely pleasant space to spend an afternoon. Of course, the coffees do not disappoint either. The menu features a few different sandwiches and sweet treats, but people mainly come here for the coffee. Open seven days a week, from 7am until 10pm.
This address is probably one of the one Italian cafés on Monkland Street, it is certainly a must-see in our books. The owner, Gianni, is a true Italian through and through. Once coming back to Canada after living in Italy for many years, he wanted to bring a piece of his home country to Montreal. The result : Cafe de’ Mercanti. This place is about as close to a real Italian café as it gets! Open from 8am to 6pm every day of the week.
The original Café Gentile opened in 1959 in the heart of the Ahuntsic Cartierville district. In November of 2016, the legacy is continuing on in Westmount, right on Sainte-Catherine Street! We come to this address to enjoy delicious Italian coffee as well as some super tasty Italian sandwiches – they’re even home to one of the best chicken sandwiches in Montreal! Everything from the staff to the decor is wonderful. Open on weekdays from 6am to 7:30pm, Saturdays from 6:30am to 4pm and Sundays from 7:30am to 2pm. Despite being the most recent iteration of café Gentile, the Westmount location is just as charming as the original!
The Waxman Espresso Bar is a coffee house located inside the renowned Waxman tailor and barber shop! You’ll find the bar tucked away at the very back of the truly sumptuous premises, perfect for grabbing a pick-me-up after a haircut, a trip to the tailors, or simply whenever you’re in the neighbourhood. The Waxman family serves their coffee according to Italian traditions, which is becoming more of a rarity every day. A great coffee stop on Parc Avenue!
Located in the Villeray district, Baristello & cie opened in January 2017, and has been one of our go-to coffee shops in the area ever since. The space does not look like what you might expect of a typical Italian café, but the it is incredibly welcoming and comfortable. On the side of food, the menu is short and sweet. Think tramezzini, sandwiches, pastries and classic viennoiseries. Unsurprisingly, the coffee is amazing as well!
The caffè Biancamano is a charming little coffee shop located right on the corner of Normanville and Saint-Zotique. Here, you can enjoy delicious Italian coffee and paninis, and homemade gelato and pastries that are to die for! Word on the street is that their “caffè cremas” are the best in town… we highly recommend!