Ciccio’s: Italian coffee and sandwiches in Old Montreal

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In Old Montreal, next door to Hanzō and Mandy’s on rue Saint-Nicolas, is where you’ll find Ciccio’s—a charming café and Italian sandwich counter with a bright and modern decor.

“I’ve wanted to have a small coffee shop and sandwich counter for a while,” says Gian Paolo De Riggi, the man behind Ciccio’s. “People always try to reinvent the wheel. I wanted to go back to basics, make something beautiful, good, and affordable. A high-quality fast-food.”

In these times of economic uncertainty, this is exactly the kind of place we need! And why the name Ciccio’s, we ask Gian Paolo? “It means ‘chubby’ or ‘plump’ in Italian. It’s generous, it’s cute,” explains the co-owner. Just like his café!

With around twenty years of experience in the restaurant business, Gian Paolo has worked as a chef, sommelier, and mixologist (he was responsible for the cocktail program at Stillife in its early days), and more recently as a designer with the ADR Design Studio, which he founded with his father, Agostino. They are responsible for the decor of restaurants like Béatrice, Moretti, Sofia, and Helena. Ciccio’s is his concept from A to Z, from the menu to the decor, including branding and furniture design.

For this new project, the entrepreneur partnered with Carma Hospitality (Bird Bar, Marcella, Pancho, Blandino, etc.), which had already acquired the small space on Saint-Nicholas street. Eventually, the partners would like to open more branches—little Ciccio’s popping up all over the city, maybe even beyond.

Sandwiches, salads, and antipasti

The concise menu is displayed on a bright letter board behind the counter. Seven sandwiches, three salads, antipasti platters for 4 or 8 people, and that’s it. The Muffuletta (mortadella, salami, cooked ham with mozzarella, giardiniera, homemade mayo, and hot peppers) and Tacchino (smoked turkey, mozzarella, bacon, gardniniera lettuce, tomato, mayo) are must-try; we’ll have to return to try the mortadella, porchetta, and eggplant parmigiana. Our neighbours’ salads, which we eyed over the counter, looked equally generous. There’s the Jules (for Caesar, with broccoli as well as the traditional romaine), then the Teddys (fresh salad with pickles, dill, radishes, and mascarpone vinaigrette), and, finally, the Old School (“It’s like nonna picked all the vegetables from her garden to make a salad,” says Gian Paolo).

The owner insisted we try the cannoli for dessert. Who could resist such a plea? It went down in two quick bites with a shot of espresso. Finally, we’d have been remiss not to try the pistachio cream tiramisu, served in a cute lidded jar (perfect for take-out!). It was so delicious we had to finish the whole thing.

If you are inclined, browse through the grocery section, which offers a small selection of delicacies from Italy. In the fridge, you’ll find Italian sodas—limonata, aranciata—some Quebec wines, and beers, including a beer specially brewed for Ciccio’s, available for take-out only at the moment (the liquor license should eventually arrive, our host hopes).

Old Montreal workers will be happy to learn that Ciccio’s also offers corporate catering, lunch boxes, and charcuterie and appetizer boards. Take note for your next work lunches!


Photography by Ciccio's / Buzz Marketing

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