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Graziella:

Dieci Anni, Con-graziella-zioni!

RESTAURANT ITALIAN OLD MONTREAL UPSCALE <$60

The Pitch

Ten years feels like an eternity in the volatile restauration business.  Some spots reach this milestone amid much fanfare; others manage to do so under the radar.  Then there's Old Montreal's Graziella, which will be celebrating its ten-year anniversary later this year while keeping a relatively low profile yet drawing critical acclaim.

The Mood

Mood image

Birthdays are as good an occasion as any to splurge – don't ask my age – and boy does Graziella fit the bill.  At a time when fine dining establishments are growing increasingly casual, the McGill Street locale is still pushing formally-attired waitstaff, subdued music and white table linens.  All of this naturally translates into a crowd more mature than what we have come to expect at trendier spots.

tagged:  SPECIAL OCCASION

The Food

Food Image

A concise, ingredient-driven menu is split into antipasti, primi and secondi sections; with 3-4 options under each.  Dishes are a tad expensive, but the sophistication, execution and plating more than justify the price tag.

Fiore di Zucca thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Antipasti

Antipasti

$15

$15

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Fiore di Zucca

A sort of tempura of Lebanese zucchinis stuffed with smooth, creamy ricotta resulting in a delicate balance of flavours and play on textures; splendido!

Cappelletti thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Primi

Primi

$28

$28

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Cappelletti

Perfectly-al dente hat-shaped pasta shells were filled with ricotta and mint and came swimming in a rich, salty, cheesy tomato sauce; another winner.

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Primi

Primi

$32

$32

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Spaghetti all'Astice

We are instantly drawn to any dish that combines lobster with spaghetti but this one – although cooked flawlessly – needed a little boost from the tomato sauce/bisque.

Controfiletto di Manzo thumbnail (click to enlarge)

Secondi

Secondi

$37

$37

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Controfiletto di Manzo

A beautifully-plated dish featured roasted veggies with a nicely-charred sirloin steak full of flavour and – unfortunately – an impossibly-tough vein running through it.

The Service

A snazzy setting and refined fare call for capable, polished service.  Our sharp, young waiter was up to the task; displaying professionalism without being too uptight.  Our only complaint regards a twenty-minute delay before we were given menus after grabbing a table.  We understand this is common practice in certain European countries, but last time I checked: we're in North America!

The Verdict

Our first dinner at Graziella was a pleasure; the chic room, sharp service and soigné food rose up to the – birthday – occasion.  Despite our minor quibbles with a couple plates and that unnecessary wait, there is no denying this ristorante is making the case for fine dining as a category, in the face of its steady decline.  Here's to another ten years or more!

tagged:  DESERVES A RETRY

Price per person:  $47.33

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514eats

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.

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