Spring in Montreal is a wonderful thing to behold. There’s a palpable energy that awakens as the new bright green leaves take their place in the trees, the air warms and is perfumed with lilacs and people flood the parks and restaurant terrasses, their skin warming with heat from the sun. At Buonanotte on St. Laurent, the fresh new season means some fresh new flavours that are made to tantalize our taste buds. Last week we were invited to the restaurant to get a taste of the new additions to the menu and meet the new head chef that had everyone at the table buzzing.
Marco Bertoldini, the new head chef at Buonanotte, has worn a couple of hats in his 29 years. We first met over ten years ago when when we worked together at Birks Jewellers on St. Catherine Street (he was a security guard and I was selling jewelry) and he was constantly talking about the food he was currently experimenting with. Fast forward to a decade later, I was elated to see him helm one of the most famous kitchens in the city. At the time our menu tasting, he had only been with the restaurant a little over three weeks but already his passion for food has translated into one delicious dish after another. Marco came to chat with us at our table and returned frequently, proudly presented us with a variety of different foods to try, some from the menu and some, special inventions for the evening.
We started things off with a charcuterie plate filled with delicious homemade mortadella, dried sausage, artichoke, cheeses, cured duck and olives. We followed that up with a succulent heirloom tomato salad with fresh creamy cheese and a zesty vinaigrette. From the menu we tried their tremendously popular Insalata di ricotta (homemade ricotta, frisee lettuce, compressed squash, pine nuts, pomegranate, mint, orange and thyme dressing).
Moving on, the kitchen sent out a couple of pizzas and as expected, they didn’t last very long. I believe that a pizza is only as good as its crust and at Buonanotte they make a fantastic crust. We started with a white pizza (no sauce, just brushed with oil) topped with tomatoes, zucchini, basil and slivers of pork fat. We also tried their Bufalina pizza, a more traditional pizza featuring tomato sauce, mozzarella di Bufala and basil. Keeping it simple with fresh ingredients and full flavours makes Buonanotte’s pizzas some of the best in the city.
Fiddlehead season had just begun on the night we went and the one of the last main course dishes to arrive at the table was a plate of delicious pasta mixed in with fiddleheads, sausage and red pepper shavings. The dish was simple and flavourful, another exceptional example of what the guys in Buonanotte’s kitchen can dream up. It should be noted that all the restaurant’s pastas are made in house. The last dish served was a fish of the day with greens and green peas. The fish was fresh and bursting with flavour.
When we finally arrived at the desserts, we were full but not full enough to say no to something sweet. We sampled an amazing tiramisu, a warm chocolate tort with French vanilla ice cream and a refreshing lemon sorbet. The dessert was a wonderful way to close out another great visit to this iconic restaurant.
Buonanotte’s infamous reputation as a world-class restaurant as well as one of Montreal’s social scene hotspots comes from its popularity with celebrities, athletes, Montrealers and visitors from around the world. Beyond the flashy reputation, the restaurant has lasted because it prides itself on quality and that never goes out of style.
Photo credit: David Major-Lapierre