The Best of Little Italy : our suggestions for bars, cafés and restaurants

Update 3 February 2020   |   Published on 20 January 2020   |   58 shares
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The Best of the Little Italy : our suggestions for bars, cafés and restaurants

Little Italy has it all – beautiful parks, a charming residential atmosphere, Jean-Talon market, a ton of cute shops, and of course, amazing gourmet establishments. 

The neighbourhood was first developed as a residential area for the Italians that immigrated in mass at the end of the nineteenth century to work on the construction of Canadian railways. This wave of Italian immigrants laid the groundwork for what would eventually become the Little Italy that we know today, and are responsible for some of the neighbourhood’s iconic landmarks such as the Church of Madonna della Difesa. Following the second wave of Italian immigration to Montreal that occurred after WWII, the neighbourhood was quickly solidified as the epicentre of the city’s Italian community, with institutions like Italian churches and specialty grocery stores around every corner.  Most of all, the Little Italy of today is home to the best and most authentic Italian restaurants and cafés in the city, as well as some of our all time favourite non-Italian restaurants! 

As a visitor, there is a lot to discover in the neighbourhood. As a foodie, you’ll never run out of things to try! Whether it’s packing a picnic from the Jean-Talon market to enjoy in Dante Park or grabbing a bite at one of the many amazing Italian bistros in the area, this neighbourhood is foodie-heaven. This list highlights the addresses that we like the most in the area. 

Are you looking for more recommendations of great restaurants in other regions of Montreal? Check out list of the best gourmet addresses in Old Montreal, in the Plateau, and downtown. If you’re on the hunt for a great Italian café in the city (many of which are not in Little Italy), have a look at our list of the best Italian cafés in Montreal

If you know of any great restaurants, cafés or bars in Little Italy that you think should have a spot on this list, please send us an email at [email protected] We always appreciate getting feedback and recommendations from our readers!

© Photos Alison SlatteryInstagram

They're open! They're open! Restaurant Pastaga

Restaurant Pastaga

Since it opened in 2011, restaurant Pastaga has been serving some of the best Quebecois cuisine in Montreal. The combination of the friendly staff and understated decor makes the restaurant’s whole atmosphere feel very welcoming and comfortable. On the menu, you can expect to see dishes that tread the line between appetizer and entrée, all of which are very refined and ideal for sharing. Exploring the menu at Pastaga is a great way to discover the flavours of Quebec, especially as it changes seasonally in order to highlight the best local produce. The wine list is entirely composed of natural and organic labels, curated by Martin Juneau. This is the type of neighbourhood restaurant that you’ll want to keep coming back to.
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They're open! They're open! Impasto

Impasto

At Tastet, Impasto is considered an essential restaurant in Montreal’s gourmet scene. Together, owners Michelle Forgione and Stefano Faita have created an establishment that quickly became an icon of Italian cuisine in Montreal. This address is certainly one of the top Italian restaurants in the city, partly because everything here is homemade and incredibly delicious, and partly because the duo that own it were bound for success. In the spirit of Italian cuisine, the menu works to elevate the natural beauty of locally sourced products and to indulge the diner in a decadent yet refined meal. The restaurant also offers a wonderful lunch menu, which includes 2 appetizers, 3 pasta dishes and a couple of dessert options. This spot is a must-try!
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They're open! They're open! Restaurant Gus

Restaurant Gus

Restaurant Gus is the epitome of a small neighbourhood restaurant, and it is for this reason that it is so incredibly enjoyable. Owner David Angus Ferguson opened this restaurant knowing that he wanted to cultivate a friendly and local atmosphere, and that is exactly what he has done. On the side of food, Gus (David’s in-house alter-ego), has created a menu of comfort food dishes that are simple but very well executed. The menu reflects his personality, as well as his desire to not be “put in a box”, so you you’ll surely find a little bit of everything on it.
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Excited for their return Excited for their return Vin Mon Lapin

Vin Mon Lapin

Vin Mon Lapin is a former member of the Joe Beef family, so it is in no way surprising that we love this address as much as we do. Owners Marc-Olivier Frappier and Vanya Filipovic have been trailblazers on the Montreal culinary landscape for years now, and Mon Lapin is another success to tack onto their impressive portfolio. The small space is beautifully decorated with flowers, artwork and paintings made by none other than David Mcmillin himself (Joe Beef family member). The cuisine here is meticulously made, and always reliably delicious. Chefs Marc-Olivier Frappier and chef Jessica Noël reimagine the menu each season, but you can always count on it being original, beautifully prepared and full of flavour! In terms of wine, Vanya Filipovic has carefully put together a wine list that reflects her own tastes and expertise, and the result is amazing.
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They're open! They're open! Restaurant Marconi

Restaurant Marconi

We come to restaurant Marconi for three things : good food, good cocktails and good wine, all courtesy of Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly, the chef, and Molly Superfine-Rivera. The interior of the restaurant, designed by the renowned Zébulon Perron in partnership with Molly and Mehdi, is incredibly inviting and perfectly combines contemporary and modern aesthetics – a perfect match for the rest of the neighbourhood! The white washed tin walls and black leather banquettes make the space feel very cozy (and ideal for a date). Their seasonal menu, created by Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly, features small, light and tasty dishes that are perfect for sharing with good company. The menu is inspired, among other things, by the chef’s trips around the world. For drinks, Marconi is most known for its amazing cocktails, all created by co-owner and mixologist, Molly Superfine-Rivera. They also have a wonderful wine list that has options for all palettes and budgets.
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They're open! They're open! Ratafia

Ratafia

Every once in a while, you may get the craving to skip dinner all together and head straight to the good stuff; drinks and dessert. Ratafia is tailor made for those moments exactly! This beautiful dessert bar is located right on Boulevard Saint-Laurent, and is the perfect place to come for a date night, a festive evening out with friends, or simply any time that you’re looking to indulge yourself. This address is also featured on our list of the best desserts in Montreal – they’re really that good.
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They're open! They're open! Le Petit Alep

Le Petit Alep

Despite the fact that this address has been open for more than 20 years, it is still one of our favourite restaurants in town. We love it for their lively atmosphere, tasty dishes and remarkable wine list! Le Petit Alep is the younger sibling of restaurant Alep (which we also recommend checking out). Here, you’ll find a wine list of over 250 labels, a menu full of rich and impactful Middle Eastern flavours, and a very welcoming atmosphere that will keep you coming back for more. In terms of food, we especially love that homemade pita bread, the mazzas (the hummus, mouhamara, grape leaves and labneh were our favourites), and the wonderful and creative tasting menu which is available for either 23$ or 28$!
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They're open! They're open! Bar St-Denis

Bar St-Denis

Bar Saint-Denis has quickly become a landmark for the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. Whether you want to enjoy a delicious meal, a quiet drink on a weekday or feast until the early hours of the morning, Bar St-Denis is the place for you. Their objective was to open a bar that served a great menu that could suit all occasions: dishes to share, to satisfy a deep hunger craving, or to snack on after you empty a glass of wine. The Egyptian roots of co-owner Emily Homsy colour every dish they serve. When you come to Bar St-Denis, you can expect to enjoy delicious falafels, lamb tartar, and other Middle Eastern specialties. Beyond their wonderful menu and impressive drink selection, Bar St-Denis is also one of the most beautiful bars in the city!
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They're open! They're open! Caffè San Simeon

Caffè San Simeon

This café is a Montreal classic… not just in Little Italy! In the heart of the neighbourhood, 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.
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They're open! They're open! Café San Gennaro

Café San Gennaro

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 coffee. Open on Tuesday until Sunday, from 7am until 7pm on weekdays and 9am until 7pm on weekends, this café is a must-see in the Little Italy neighbourhood!
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