Disclaimer: This meal was comped.
When a restaurant occupies a massive space spanning two floors on student/tourist-heavy Crescent Street, it is natural to try to draw as wide an audience as possible to fill so many seats. With a plethora of features already under Wienstein & Gavino's belt – 5 à 7 special, prix fixe lunch, late night menu – the twenty-year-old Italian juggernaut recently expanded its repertoire with a gluten-free menu. Tonight we accepted an invitation to sample the latter while enjoying the first genuinely warm weekend of the season on the busy street-side terrace.
tagged: CATCH SOME SUN
Back in late 2013, the self-titled pasta factory went under the scalpel with the introduction of a new brand image and revamped menu at the hands of itinerant chef Giuseppe Sacchetti – who moved on to other endeavors shortly after. The gluten-free menu acts as a subset of the full offering with enough options for everyone; antipastis and insalatas are followed by secondis, pizzas and pastas (choice of spaghetti or penne).
"grilled octopus, lemon-pepper glaze, nduja-cannellini bean ragout". Beautifully-seasoned mollusc arms – a tad overcooked – are paired with tender/popping, earthy beans; a standout item on the menu.
"tomatoes, fior di latte, basil pesto, olive oil". A classic Italian salad that's been done to death, this rendition did away with the basil leaves while adding pesto sauce; nothing to write home about.
"tomato sauce, peppers, zucchini, onions, eggplant, oven-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, ricotta, olive oil". The roasted eggplant stole the show with its natural sweetness; alas the crust was hard-ish and lacked puffiness.
"shrimp, garlic, chili peppers, butter, white wine, parsley, cherry tomatoes". A delicious and zesty sauce mixed in not-quite-al-dente pasta followed the overarching pattern of great recipes falling a tad short on execution.
We have been to W&G enough times over the years to see a clear amelioration in the offering since its rebirth in late 2013. The food is a far cry from those early uninspired pastas doused in sauce that earned it the unofficial nickname of "Montreal's Olive Garden". Today we consider it a dependable Italian option downtown, although the kitchen still needs to tighten up on details. With its new menu, this longstanding ristorante has broadened its appeal by tapping into the gluten-free craze.
tagged: PLAN B.
Price per person: $35.25
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.