The Bacaro brand may be a household name by now – with nine locations and billboards posted all over town – but it all started as a lone operation in my borough of Westmount. The "urban pizzeria" – whatever that means – opened in 2014 during peak Neapolitan pizza craze and was an instant hit with locals.
After many visits over the years, Bacaro has become one of my family's neighborhood standbys. In warmer days, a stroll through Westmount Park will get me there in fifteen minutes; if not, I am guaranteed a parking spot right in front when using my car in inclement weather.
tagged: TAKE THE CAR
The pizzeria occupies two storefronts on a quiet stretch of Sainte-Catherine Street West and marks the end of the Greene Avenue commercial zone. One locale fits a bar and takeout area while the other holds a dining room, the two connected via a pair of square archways.
The décor is warm and kitschy, with newspaper-plastered and brick walls carrying logos of famous Italian products such as Martini, Campari and San Pellegrino. The mood is casual and neighborly thanks to an abundance of kids, loud-ish music and a scattering of overhead TV screens.
tagged: BRING THE KIDS
A bacaro is what Venetians call a tavern/osteria, i.e. a spot where folks drop by for a drink accompanied by a casual bite. The naming is appropriate given the abundance of wines, cocktails and beers, not to mention the daily promos such as sangria Tuesdays and Aperol spritz Sundays. As for food, a comprehensive selection of appetizers, salads and pastas precedes the main attraction: napoletana pizza baked in a wood-burning oven.
Our starters were satisfactory but not without their flaws; I like my arancini filling meltier and my calamari rings less heavily battered. As for the pie, it features a beautiful thin and puffy crust, makes great use of toppings, but could use a zestier sauce.
"breaded cheese risotto croquettes, tomato sauce"
"crispy fried calamari served with calabrian chili aioli"
"romaine lettuce, croutons, radishes, caesar dressing, parmesan"
"spaghetti in a slow-cooked meat sauce, meatball, fresh basil"
"san marzano sauce, DOP burrata, EVOO, basil"
"san marzano sauce, mozzarella & pepperoni"
Whether I dine on a busy or slow night, the staff at Bacaro tends to be on top of things. The young waiters do seem to turn over regularly from one visit to another, but this has not affected the level of service from day one. Tonight continued in that spirit, our waitress putting forth casual warmth and efficiency.
Bacaro's multiplication happened at the hand of franchising giant Foodtastic – also behind La Belle et la Boeuf and Carlos & Pepes, among others. With the expansion came a rebranding from the puzzling "urban pizzeria" to the more obnoxious motto "I am pizzaterian".
Between the food and drinks with mass appeal and great-but-could-be-better pizza, the Bacaro banner has nowhere to go but up. And while the initial Westmount location is a reliable neighborhood option, I cannot consider it a destination along the lines of Bottega, GEMA and Elena.
tagged: PLAN B.
Price per person: $27.84
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.