Little Italy is one of Montreal’s most distinct neighbourhoods. Proudly displaying the colours of the resident majority’s heritage, the area is teeming with activity all year long. People from all across the city fill the cafes, bars, specialty shops, Italian grocery stores and restaurants week after week and enjoy the tight-knit, boisterous atmosphere. We dropped into Café International on St. Laurent to escape the cold and found a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
It’s hard to look out the window in April as snow and ice billow in the trees that dot the Main but that didn’t stop us from taking one of the best seats in the house at Café International. The window seats are prime real estate in a restaurant so close to the action on St. Laurent and the corner of St. Zotique, near Parc Dante in little Italy. Café International’s atmosphere felt warm and reassuring while our little nook remained perfectly intimate. The restaurants décor was dark and rich like a perfectly drawn espresso. The dark wooden walls and low ambient lighting made the atmosphere feel intimate and reserved. The choices on the menu made it very tough to figure out what I wanted to order. Because of the temperature I was drawn start to the soup but in the end I went with the mouthwatering bruschetta while my friend had no trouble choosing the grilled calamari. For our main course we chose the fettuccine with porcini mushrooms and the francobolli, which came stuffed with braised beef cheeks and served with black truffle oil. The fettuccine was buttery and cooked to perfection while the francobolli was savoury and dripping with delicious warm truffle oil.
It should be mentioned that all their pasta is homemade which makes the meal all the more desirable. The portions were perfect leaving us both satiated at the end of the meal. This being an Italian restaurant they also featured a robust wine list lined with Italian wines (which happened to be the first thing I grabbed for when we were seated). The service was very friendly, reserved and respectful of our space. The waiter seemed to always be at exactly the right place at the right time.
Café International not only features an extensive standard menu, they also offer a menu featuring a choice of two entrees, a main course, dessert and coffee for $25.00. If you buy a bottle wine (lets be honest, who wouldn’t) they double this menu but the price remains $25.00! Rediscovering little Italy is turning out to be a very pleasant experience. I’m looking forward to seeing more and if you’re curious, you should give Café International a try.
Photo credit: David Major-Lapierre