Little Italy isn’t just for the Italians: it’s a celebration of the Italian culture for all Montrealers. They love to share (especially food – Nonna, we’re full!) so the businesses in Little Italy aren’t solely Italian. Whether you live there or are just visiting for the day, there are so many spots to visit. Even though Little Italy can become a tourist attraction at times, but it never loses its communal charm. Businesses help and support each other, and locals are happy to keep their business within the confines of this great neighbourhood. So if you’re shopping for Montreal condos, Little Italy is a pretty good choice! We’re going to explore Little Italy with you, but we’re going to go beyond the popular boulevard St Laurent strip.
Italy is known for their coffee, so it’s no wonder they have incredible coffee shops serving authentic Italian espresso, cappuccino, caffè latte, and more. San Gennaro serves a delicious crema di caffè along with cappuccinos and lattes made with locally-sourced whole milk, making them that much more delicious and creamy. Another popular and classic spot that’s been around since 1979 is Caffè San Simeon. They’ve stood the test of time, and you can tell when you walk in. You can find every generation in their clientele. Try their Perfect Storm, iced espresso topped with perfectly foamed milk: a perfect marriage of hot and cold. This spot is as close to an authentic Italian café you can get in Montreal.
If you want to go out for dinner or for lunch, Little Italy has a plethora of options. Bottega makes some of the best pizzas in the city, with delicious appetizers like bacci (balls of pizza dough stuffed with ham and cheese), polpette (meatballs), and arancini (rice, cheese, and meat balls). Pizzeria Gema is another incredible pizza spot with monthly pizza specials (often collaborating with other restaurants) and the most delicious frozen custard ice cream for dessert. Porchetta is taking Montreal by storm, so it’s only natural that Le Cochon Caché gets a mention. Their salty, fatty, and savoury pig can be inhaled (you’ll be so excited to eat it can only be called inhaling) in a variety of forms: in a panini, a poutine, a pizza, you name it! Finally, what’s not to love about a picnic in the park? Dinette Triple Crown provides southern comfort (like their Le Big Nasty sandwich) along with the most adorable picnic basket with all the fixins’.
If it’s an upscale dinner you’re looking for, Little Italy doesn’t disappoint either. The linguini frutti di mare at Ristorante Lucca is to die for (but then again, so is every pasta dish there) and their tiramisu is hard to beat. Impasto‘s homemade pastas are sure to wow you, like their ricotta gnocchi (if you’re lucky enough to nab a plate). They even serve a mean porchetta. Hostaria boasts a chalkboard menu, so you can expect something new every time you go. But if you spot the papardelle boar ragu, order it immediately. Then there’s Primo e Secondo, another classic white tablecloth eatery. Where else can you try duck meatballs and a carpaccio di manzo with an artichoke aioli? Our mouth is watering…
For all your grocery needs, where else to go than Marché Jean Talon? They have everything your little heart desires: fresh produce, florists, specialty cheese shops, butchers, fish shops, and we could keep going. Where else are you going to find ostrich eggs? You can even grab a bite while you shop (grocery shopping makes us FAMISHED and we really do need our energy). You can even pass through the market just to take in all the sights and sounds. It truly is an experience. For all your other grocery shopping needs, check out Milano (not to be confused with the café panino bar in the East End).
To get the latest threads, i.Rags is your number one stop in Little Italy, only adding to the quality shopping in the area. For home decor and some classy, simple, and quality attire, try BELANGERMARTIN on St Zotique. For specialty cigars, Cigare & Compagnie is where you want to be. For your vintage shopping needs, Citizen Vintage has men and women’s vintage clothes, accessories, and local handcrafts.
Little Italy is no stranger to festivals, and you can expect St Laurent to be blocked off when something exciting comes to town. During Grand Prix weekend, luxury cars line the street and Montrealers flock to check out classic Italian cars (while enjoying a coffee and a cannoli). Not to be forgotten, Italian Week takes Montreal by storm and Little Italy could not be busier! Concerts, art exhibits, food, and of course, Italian cars, flood the neighbourhood. Another yummy festival is Pizza Week in Little Italy, where local pizza artisans create new recipes and offers discounts (so you can try more pizza, obviously). There’s always something going on in Little Italy!
For green spaces, Little Italy has a few go-to spots. Parc de la Petite Italie is small, quaint, and where you want to go to enjoy that delish picnic basket. Whenever there are musical appearances in Little Italy, you’ll probably find the stage right there. A bit further away (and not technically in Little Italy, but who’s keeping track?) is the fabulous Jarry Park, 89 acres of green space with gardens, gazebos, and a fountain. For some classic bocce, head over to Dante Park and see if you can learn a thing or two from Nonna and Nonno (warning: they’re going to school you).
Getting around in Little Italy isn’t too tough, with Jean Talon and de Castelnau metro stations close-by and plenty of Bixis lying around waiting to be used. Once you get to Little Italy, however, we recommend walking (or biking) to truly be able to enjoy this wonderful and cultural neighbourhood.
Featured image courtesy of Instagram user @kenza_kenza.