358, rue Notre-Dame E. (at St-Denis) | Tel. 514-759-0505
Lunch specials from $13.95 to 19.95, includes salad or ham, meal, and espresso or fruit salad
don’t have much to say that’s very nice. You should turn away if you’re looking for something cheerful. Let me start off by admitting that I set myself up a bit, because I picked this place to review with very high hopes. I jog past this storefront several times a week, it’s in my neighbourhood, and it’s only been open for a few months.
lovely interior space
It catches my eye every time, because from the outside it is a very attractive space, they’ve hired a good designer, lots of dark wood, nice flooring, big shelves with products for sale. Even En Route called it a "distinctive, modern Italian eatery is just steps away from bustling Jacques-Cartier Square."
But it’s always empty when I run by. Granted, it’s not on rue St-Paul, it’s not right in the middle of high-tourist traffic. That’s OK. Maybe then it can safely avoid the tragic food offered to most tourists, think of those men in the streets with their plastic menus, eat here, eat here, we have lobster.
So yesterday I got together with some new friends, and we met for a lazy Friday lunch at Stuzzichi. (Apparently this word means snack-y bits of tasty stuff. Maybe like tapas.)
your choice of starters: ham or salad
Let me tell you all the good things first. Really, there are lots of them. The floors, for example, are amazing dark brown wood. The tables, the furniture, the brown paper, the nice big square plates. Our waiter, if amazingly uninformed, has a nice smile and tries as hard as he can given that he’s only serving two tables during the entire Friday lunch rush.
Right. The good things. The pasta isn’t overcooked, which is almost completely impossible to find in this city. The servings are large for an à la carte lunch, even though the prices are a bit more than your average office lunch, it works out to be quite decent with the decaf espresso or the fruit salad thrown in.
OK. Here’s the part of the review that I’ve been avoiding. The things that need work. There were some serious misunderstandings between the menu, the waiter’s knowledge, and what we were served. Apparently linguine and the fettuccini are the same sized noodle, and their sauces were also interchangeable, although one was a tad big spicier. In fact, there were three different pastas served to our table of 7 guests, but if you closed your eyes, you’d have been hard pressed to tell the difference between them using your fork alone.
lobster with tomato pasta
tomato fettuccini with calamari
this is supposed to be linguine puttanesca, but there are no capers
veal with mushrooms and more pasta
The menu is just thinly enough written (and contradicts the chalkboard), so we had to ask what everything was/meant, and since the waiter didn’t know, he smiled very sweetly and then apparently made things up.
Yes. But was the food any good? Well, it was quite good, actually. The veal was lovely, even though the mushrooms where not those advertised. The lobster was plentiful and well cooked. But the meal was also completely forgettable (not the company, just the food). About 4 blocks from the restaurant, several of us agreed that it was unlikely we’d ever go back.
the lovely fruit salad dessert
Why? The food doesn’t come together. And that’s a shame, because while the location may be a tiny bit out-of-the-way, I’ll walk a mile (or even maybe a few kilometres some days) to eat somewhere great. And great has many definitions. But I’m afraid I’ll only be back if I wake up one day craving smiling waiters tossed with a nice serving of hardwood flooring. – Reviewed by Shelley MacDonald Beaulieu (Aug/08)
Thanks to Nick Wolf for additional pictures.
[Shelley's on loan to MontrealFood from her new home at www.OneRoastVegetable.com]