Clarke Café: New location, same delicious Italian sandwiches

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Pointe-Saint-Charles’ must-visit Italian café is getting a makeover at a new address on Shearer Street, just a few steps from the old one. But don’t worry, the sandwiches and coffee are as delicious as ever!

In 2018, Frank Servedio opened Clarke Café, a little further west on Centre Street, in homage to his parents’ bakery, where he worked for some 15 years. Boulangerie Clarke was a Mile End institution, well known for its Italian sandwiches. Frank wanted to continue the family tradition through the café: “I wanted to recreate the Clarke experience by offering signature products, keeping the essence while adding my personal touch,” he explained at the time.

Like the family bakery, Clarke Café quickly established itself as a neighbourhood staple, becoming a popular destination for Pointe-Saint-Charles residents and workers, who flock there for morning coffee and lunch, and in our humble opinion, one of the best Italian cafés and sandwich shops in Montreal.

New decor, same atmosphere

So why change a winning formula? “We needed a bigger kitchen to do the prep work for our two cafés,” says Frank, who is preparing to open a second Café Clarke in the Must Société boutique in Kirkland.

The move also allowed an overhaul of the café’s layout, with the help of Ivy Studio architects. A large island now separates the counter from the dining room, so you can eat or enjoy your coffee in comfort. A grocery corner, where you can stock up on imported Italian products – gelati, frozen pizzas, sodas, chips, condiments, etc. – has also been added.

Although the new space is more modern and spacious, the identity and ambience of the old address have been preserved: green and white tiles, oak counters and furniture, green marble tables, all punctuated by Servedio family memorabilia, adding a warm, vintage feel to the whole. It feels lived-in and inviting, as if the café had always been there.

The “sangwich” house

On the menu: the same delicious “sangwich”, as Frank calls it (the word appears in large letters on the new take-out packaging and on the café’s merchandise) that made Clarke Café famous.

We suggest the porchetta or the breaded chicken cutlet, two great classics of the house, prepared “Frank’s way”, with the chef’s choice of side dishes. Generous arancini are always on the menu, and herbivores will be pleased to learn that a delicious Caesar salad and insalata verde will soon be added to the menu. We must also mention the excellent breakfast sandwiches (choice of sausage or bacon, once again among the best in town), served until 11am every morning.

Desserts and viennoiseries, prominently displayed in glass cases, are also very popular. The delicious cannoli, tiramisu and zeppole are all homemade. The inimitable Nutella horns and other pastries are imported frozen directly from Italy and baked on site.

Behind the gleaming coffee machine, Frank himself dispatches espressos, lattes and cortados. In keeping with Italian tradition, a delicious medium-bodied blend with hints of chocolate is served, named Damiano in honour of the owner’s son.

Finally, the new address will also have a liquor license, which should arrive just in time for the launch of new house beers specially brewed in Quebec by Birra Fanelli for Clarke: a blonde, a red and a white.


Photography by Alison Slattery

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