Every neighborhood has a casual go-to spot where locals gladly flock to at any time of day. How these haunts come to be requires timing, savvy and a dose of luck. Gentile Cafe, a half-century-old Italian café in Ahuntsic, has managed to create one with their second location set in Westmount.
The 2016 newcomer has scored points with every crowd from office workers in the daytime to locals in the evening and families on the weekend. With the air conditioning barely keeping up with the sweltering heat wave outside, the street-side terrace – luckily in the shade of the skyscraper across the street – looked like a safer bet.
tagged: CATCH SOME SUN
Gentile's beautiful interior reminds me of coffee bars I encountered on a visit to Milan a decade ago. Sleek lines and gorgeous tiling combine for a sophisticated, modern European cachet.
The terrace too is not without its charm; the cozy, elevated windowfront setup is more removed from foot and car traffic than those sidewalk-gobbling installations prevalent in the city. The patrons on site this evening seemed to share this opinion, as family after family filled the exterior space in lieu of the dining room.
tagged: BRING THE KIDS
The Westmount outpost's menu is a far cry from the original location's coffee-and-panini proposition. For my first dinnertime visit I was surprised with the offering's completeness. The two-page menu runs the gamut of ristorante classics such as eggplant parmigiana, spaghetti alle vongole and veal scallopini. Young diners will have their fill too with favorites such as gnocchi and spaghetti with meatballs.
Whereas an earlier visit gave off a sense of sloppiness on the plate, tonight's kitchen output fared a little better. Fluffy veal meatballs in a zesty tomato/ricotta sauce topped with a fresh basil leaf stole the show, while a tough chicken parmigiana needed work.
"parmigiano reggiano, meyer lemon vinaigrette"
"veal, whipped ricotta, fresh basil"
"strawberries, grapes, radishes, pumpkin seeds, charred lemon vinaigrette"
"smoked caciocavallo, sexy fries"
"olive oil, lemon"
I also discerned a significant improvement with the service tonight. The careless, inattentive teenagers I faced in the past were replaced by slightly older dudes who displayed more know-how and professionalism. Orders were taken swiftly, drinks arrived early and plates followed shortly after; just what you expect from a café.
From its location and attractive setting to its versatility, one can easily understand why Gentile has proven popular with the Westmount crowd. The Italian café-and-more has got you covered from breakfast/brunch, lunch or dinner to something quicker like coffee, dessert or a drink.
The food is still missing a few touches before I personally consider it a standby of mine – certainly for the prices charged – but I would not mind returning if the occasion presented itself.
tagged: PLAN B.
Price per person: $37.50
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.