By Marcella DeVincenzo
Montreal’s Little Italy is a colourful neighbourhood with traditional Italian groceries and cafés, contemporary restaurants and stylish boutiques. It’s the perfect destination for a leisurely day in one of the city’s most vibrant enclaves.
A great place to start your visit, La Cornetteria specializes in the Italian croissants known as cornetti that come plain or filled with nutella, ricotta cream, pistachio cream, and in other varieties. 6528 Saint-Laurent Blvd.; 514-277-8030 [map]
Your cornetto must be followed by the best coffee in Little Italy at Caffé San Simeon. Enjoy a latte or cappuccino while people-watching at this always-bustling café. 39 Dante St.; 514-272-7386 [map]
An adorable shop filled with contemporary, feminine treasures ready to be wrapped up and taken home (in gorgeous wrapping paper, no less), Lorena Rossi is worth a linger. To the soundtrack of Italian music, browse the decorative home items like iron lanterns and throw pillows or greeting cards, sweet-smelling creams, gift-wrapped chocolates and jewellery, 6758 Saint-Laurent Blvd.; 514-276-1110 [map]
The Marché Milano Italian grocery store is fun to visit and is always filled with tons of people. Look for fresh pastas and products straight from Italy—balsamic vinegars, olive oils, cheese and cured meats and especially the Baratti e Milano chocolates. 6862 Saint-Laurent Blvd., 514-273-8558 [map]
Lunchtime creeps up quickly and a great place to stop is Basi. The express counter is perfect for those who want to eat and keep on moving. Chef Maurizio has put together some simple, traditional and purely delicious sandwich options. The veal parmigiano with mozzarella and tomato sauce is delectable. 77 Shamrock Ave.; 514-750-0790 [map]
Little Italy is not complete without a trip to the largest open-air market in North America, Jean-Talon Market. Set aside a couple of hours to wander the many stalls. 7070 Henri-Julien Ave.; 514-277-1588 [map]
- Boucherie Capitol has an irresistible selection of meats, pastas, cheeses and olives. Bring a big shopping bag and maybe a small (or large!) cooler for cheese. 158 Place du Marché-du-Nord; 514-276-1345
- Qui Lait Cru has knowledgeable staff that will guide you when making important and tasty cheese choices. 514-272-0300
- Les Cochons Tout Ronds is the place to go for some of the best cured meats in the city. 7070 Henri-Julien Ave.; 514-904-2645
- Le Marche des Saveurs specializes in Quebec-made food, wine and microbrews; it stocks more than 200 Quebec cheeses. 280 Place du Marché-du-Nord; 514-271-3811.
- Havre aux Glaces is known for its artisanal ice cream and sorbet in ever-changing unusual flavours like blood orange and masala chai. A favourite flavor is espresso, which comes with the finishing touch of ground espresso beans sprinkled on top. 7070 Henri-Julien Ave.; 514-278-8696
SEE & DO
At the famous Madonna della Difesa Church, a few blocks down Avenue Henri-Julien from the market, take in the frescoes, stained glass and the impressive early 20th-century Italian architecture. Don’t miss Dante Park directly across the street, which holds a monument to 14th-century poet-philosopher Dante Alighieri. 6800 Henri-Julien Ave.; 514-277-6522 [map]
End your Little Italy tour at Bottega, famous for its Neapolitan pizza cooked to crisp perfection in a wood-burning oven. Montrealers flock to this restaurant as it’s packed up almost every night. Pizzas come with a mix of original and old-school toppings like Taleggio, anchovies, fresh mozzarella and wild mushrooms. Also on the menu: salads, calzone, traditional Neapolitan starters and, for dessert, gelato. 65 Saint-Zotique St. E.; 514-277-8104 [map]