By all accounts, you seem to like reading our Montreal Street Profile series as much as I like writing it. Good for us. We’ve been to Bleury, Parc Avenue, Maisonneuve and, most recently, Saint-Paul. For the next instalment, we’re heading to Saint-Zotique, a street very near to my heart, or more accurately, my stomach….
Saint-Zotique was named after Zotique Racicot, the Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal in the early 1900s. (Frankly, he deserves it for that spectacular name alone). Geographically, Saint-Zotique is the southern end of Montreal’s Little Italy, a neighbourhood that boasts all sorts of attractions, many of which, not surprisingly, have something to do with food. Grab yourself an espresso and take a stroll with us along one of the “strada principale” of Little Italy…
How to know if Bottega ( pictured above), routinely called the city’s best pizza place, makes truly authentic Neapolitan pizza? Look no further than the wood-burning oven made of Vezuvian rock that the owners had shipped directly from Naples. Appetizers like rice croquettes stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto are great, but pizza with porcini mushrooms or homemade sausage and rapini are why you must visit Bottega.
Don’t be thrown by St-Zotique’s Italian leanings, one of its best food options comes from El Salvador in the form of the mighty pupusa- a thick corn tortilla stuffed with cheese, meat and/or beans and served with cole slaw and salsa. Not only are they totally delicious but they’re also incredibly cheap. You can eat like a king for $8, no problem. People have their preferences, but I’ll show up ready to eat at El Amigo or La Carreta with equal excitement.
To be fair, if you turn right where St-Zotique hits St-Laurent, you’ll find more Italian restos than you’ll know what to do with. But that’s not to say St-Z doesn’t have options. Il Mulino is a small, high-end Italian place once tagged by a local food critic as the city’s best Italian spot (debatable), while in the BYOW (Bring your Own Wine) category, Da Enrico and Il Piatto Pieno are inexpensive, no-fuss spots.
Motivo is a totally entertaining store that you don’t need a reason to enter, filled with gadgets, gifts and all sorts of random (but objectively awesome) stuff. Right across the street is Opaline Studio, an artist-run studio and gallery. Now, if you want to really drop some coin, possibly because you saved so much money on those pupusas, head to Bijouterie Italienne, a family-run jewellery shop which has operating in neighbourhood since before World War II.
Beer and Poutine
No matter where you are in Montreal, these two inter-related items are always close by. For the beer, Au P’tit Buck is a no-nonsense spot that is frequented by locals. It’s certainly not the classiest place in the world, but, on the other hand, the beer IS super cheap. And of course, once you’ve accomplished that part of the evening, you’ll need poutine: head to Le Gourmet, known in the area as “le 4-14”. It’s open 24 hours a day, serving all sorts of fried and steamed wonderful.