The best Italian restaurants in Montreal for true pasta lovers
Is there anything better than a big bowl of delicious pasta when your craving comfort food? Pasta, or any Italian dishes for that matter, is food that most people love and can eat without ever getting tired of it. From bolognese to pesto to mushroom risotto, there’s nothing to dislike. If you live in Montreal or you are visiting this wonderful North American city and you’re craving some Italian dishes, know that this city boasts some incredible choices when it comes to Italian restaurants. Here are the best Italian restaurants in Montreal to satisfy your craving.
Located on St-Laurent Blvd in Montreal’s cool Mile-End neighbourhood, Il Miglio is a relative newcomer since it only recently opened its doors at the end of 2017. A lunch spot par excellence for the startup crew that works around this neighbourhood, Il Miglio is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 11h30 to 19h, each week offering different antipasti and pasta dishes made fresh daily. The counter service is perfect for quick sit down lunches, take out or for a “home-cooked meal” when you’re not in the mood to cook after work.
Part of the same restaurant family as Il Miglio, Le Serpent is a fine dining restaurant situated in Old Montreal. The industrial-chic interior will make any design lover ooh and ahh. Food wise, this restaurant offers a contemporary Italian menu with dishes like burrata with beef carpaccio, broccoli, eggplant and espelette, octopus with potato mousseline and salsa verde, short rib ravioli, squash, porcini, swiss chard and chestnuts, lobster risotto, yellow beet, basil and mascarpone, and other incredibly tasty dishes. Leave space for dessert because pastry chef Masami offers exceptional sweet treats for those with a sweet tooth.
A Montreal institution, Da Emma offers simple but refined typical Roman dishes. Think marinated artichoke hearts, spaghetti alle vongole, veal in its pan juices, roasted rabbit with rosemary, roast lamb, suckling pig, the list goes on. With more than 25 years experience, chef Emma Risa’s fresh and quality ingredients are the secret recipe to Da Emma’s continuous popularity (hello international celebrities and hockey players). A former women’s prison, the restaurant has a sexy, intimate and old-fashioned feel, perfect for a date night or an evening of celebration with friends.
Montreal’s Little Italy has tons of Italian restaurants but Impasto takes the cake. Stefano Faita and Michele Forgione’s food from every region of Italy will delight your taste buds. Open for lunch (Thursday and Friday) and dinner (Tuesday to Saturday), you can enjoy fresh focaccia with sea salt and olive oil, homemade charcuteries, linguini with confit salmon, garlic, lemon and pangrattato, Québec venison ragu and Ragusano cheese, etc. If you don’t know what to choose, try the 4-course tasting menu.
Taking an Aperitivo is huge in Italy. But what exactly is an aperitivo, you ask? Discover this typical Italian happy hour at Caffe Un Po’ Di Piu in Old Montreal! You will be transported to Italy circa 1920 with the old-fashioned bar, high stools and bricks walls. Specializing in Italian coffee, paninis, Negronis, Spritz, and small plates like burrata, bruschetta, focaccia, eggplant dip, etc., this is the kind of place where you can spend a whole afternoon (and evening) eating and drinking in a beautiful space.
In the mood for some wood-burning oven pizza? Head over to Moleskin in Montreal’s downtown area for some excellent pizza and an impressive wine list. This 3 restaurants in one serves antipasti and pizzas downstairs, a more elaborate and fancier menu upstairs and they also have a take-out counter if you’re in the mood for some ice cream on the go. You’ll have a hard time choosing between the always popular Margherita or the Salsiccia, Cacio e Pepe and Verdura pizzas available.
A typical Italian trattoria (but with flair, of course!), Il Pagliaccio serves authentic Italian food. The menu, unfortunately, is not available online but you can expect to find a few starters, some pasta dishes, and a few fish and meat dishes. The wine list does not appear anywhere, it is instead your waiter who brings you a couple of different bottles for you to taste. This is one of the most underrated but best Italian restaurants in Montreal.
Celebrating an anniversary? A birthday? Or you’re just in the mood to spoil yourself and a loved one? Graziella, in Old Montreal, serves an impeccable and graceful cuisine prepared by their star chef Graziella Battista. The menu is seasonal and changes according to market arrivals but there is one dish that always stays on the menu: the Ossobucco (order it! You won’t regret it). Everything is made in-house and the restaurant always chooses local ingredients to ensure freshness and perfection.
Ranked No. 17 in Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants 2018, Nora Gray has only been on the Montreal culinary scene since 2011 but is already a fan favourite with locals and tourists. Romantic, intimate, subtle lighting, this restaurant has a great atmosphere. Located near the Bell Centre in downtown Montreal, it is the only restaurant of its kind in this area. Serving antipasti like mortadella stuffed delicata squash and pumpkin seed pesto, deer carpaccio, juniper pickled fennel and anchovies, pasta, scallops, pan seared duck, desserts, you’ll be rolling out of there.
In the mood for gnocchi on the go? Is that even possible? Well, in Montreal it is! The Mile End is home to the tiny Drogheria Fine, a gnocchi counter that serves a heaping Asian food takeout container full of delicious gnocchis with a simple but tasty tomato sauce made in-house. Loved the sauce? Know that you can buy it at the counter but you can also find it at local grocery stores.
Budgeters and lavish dinners have some tough decisions to make now that they know where the best Italian restaurants in Montreal are located. From culinary institutions to new and modern eateries, the only way to decide which restaurant is the best is to eat at all of them!
Cover photo credit: dominique_lafond|Instagram