The best of Little Italy: Our suggestions for bars, cafés and restaurants
Little Italy has it all – beautiful parks, a charming atmosphere, the Jean-Talon market, a host of lovely stores and, of course, amazing places to eat and drink.
The neighbourhood first developed as a residential area for Italians who immigrated en masse at the end of the 19th century to work in the construction of the Canadian railroads. This wave of immigrants gradually established its culture and turned the neighbourhood into the Little Italy we all know today, with its emblematic monuments such as the Madonna della Difesa church. A second wave of Italian immigration occurred after World War II, and the neighbourhood quickly solidified itself as the epicenter of the Italian community. Italian churches and specialty grocery stores can be found on every corner. Today’s Little Italy is home to some of the best Italian restaurants and cafes in the city, as well as some of our favourite (non-Italian) restaurants!
As a visitor, there is much to discover in the neighbourhood. And as a foodie, you’ll never lack places to try! Whether you want to pack a picnic lunch at the Jean-Talon market, enjoy Dante Park, or grab a bite to eat in one of the many Italian bistros, this neighbourhood is a foodie’s paradise.
Note that this list is not exhaustive, it simply highlights some good addresses if you are looking for a place to go out and have a bite to eat or a drink.
Restaurant Pastaga (Pas.ta.ga.). Colloquial name given to anise-based alcoholic drinks served especially in the South of France. Pastaga is much more than the name of an alcoholic drink, it is also the name of one of the best Quebecois restaurants in Montreal. Located on St. Laurent Boulevard in Little Italy, Pastaga offers a delicate and refined menu of tasty Quebecois cuisine that is sure to impress. It also offers a wide range of natural and organic wines that are selected by Martin Juneau; a passion that he likes to share with his clientele and that is an integral part of the experience when one comes to taste his cuisine. Photos Martin Juneau and Bénédicte Brocard
Impasto is one of the best Italian restaurants in Montreal and has become a staple in the city. The restaurant’s decor was designed by the famous Zebulon Perron. It is sleek, with lots of raw, industrial-style materials, but also has an elegance and refinement with a modern Italian feel. Michele Forgione and Liam Beckett compose an Italian menu, using local produce, that changes every three months or so. Everything is good, very good. Keep in mind that the chef is a trained pastry chef: the desserts are always decadent. Photos Julie Perreault
Gus is a comforting restaurant where you can enjoy generous and delicious dishes. Adopted by many for almost four years now, we suggest this address for when you want to eat well in a friendly atmosphere. On the menu, you’ll find dishes that seem simple, but are very well prepared. Generous portions with lots of flavour. The restaurant is also known for its homemade breads and its comforting cakes. An address to try! Photos Vadim Daniel Photography
Vin Mon Lapin
Mon Lapin wine bar is a perfect addition to Little Italy. Formerly the last project of the Joe Beef group, Marc-Olivier Frappier and Vanya Filipovic (former Joe Beef) are now the exclusive owners. And once again, they excel. The cuisine of Mon Lapin is the cuisine of friends, prepared with care and delicacy. The mostly-natural wine list is designed by Vanya and reflects her excellent taste in wine, which has contributed to the reputation of the other restaurants in the Joe Beef family. If you are looking for a place to drink and eat very well in Little Italy, Mon Lapin is definitely one of the places to try. Photos Alison Slattery
Marconi on Mozart Street is a neighbourhood restaurant that offers a small, friendly and delicious experience! The space was designed in collaboration with Zébulon Perron, Molly and Mehdi. The result is both chic and comfortable; modern and old-fashioned. The restaurant focuses on the important things: good food, good cocktails and good wine. The menu is seasonal and market-driven, offering delicate and delicious small plates to share. With their delicious dishes, excellent cocktails, and easy-going atmosphere, it’s no wonder people keep coming back for more. Photos Alison Slattery