Celebrity chef Stefano Faita, famous for his exagerrated permasmile, just opened a third restaurant in Montreal’s Little Italy with his comparatively non-hysterical-looking business partner Michele Forgione. First there was the well-reviewed gourmet upscale Italian restaurant Impasto, followed by an excellent Neapolitan pizzeria called Gema. Now, they’ve moved away from Italian toward traditional Quebecois fast food classics at Chez Tousignant.
Tousignant opened up yesterday in the former digs of Café Espresso Vittorio on rue Drolet near Jean-Talon Market. There’s a clean 1950s retro look to the place, with a hand-painted menu, white and turquoise tiling, and stainless steel tables. The unnecessary-yet-seemingly-mandatory big screen TV in the background played The Offspring videos on MuchRetro, (not quite the same kind of “retro” as the decor).
There used to be loads of these classic no-frills Greek-run places around Montreal, but they are either fast disappearing or have suffered one too many modernizing makeovers. This place, which has been around since 1962, still looks the part. It is dripping with grease, has the original sixties booths, a great decor with alternating white and red stripes, broken jukebox consoles, and a hand-painted menu on the wall.
Le Ballpark is a charming little place on the border of Mile-Ex and Little Italy. They specialize in spherical food: onion bhajis, Italian arancini, lamb meatballs with coucous, etc. The place has a good vibe: a balanced airy mix of cold industrial and warm varnished wood, but the jury is still out on the upside-down lamps hanging from the ceiling. Le Ballpark also doubles as a watering hole, with a decent drinks menu, so it’s worth checking out even if you’re not hungry.
This bar has a nice lived-in feel, not unlike the charming old brown cafés you find in Amsterdam. There’s wood paneling everywhere, a pressed tin ceiling, a nice patio out back, and a stunning selection of Quebecois microbrews, wines, ciders, and liquor.
Unfortunately, the poutine did not live up to the surroundings. Continue reading