Pizza Bottega on St Zotique, still my benchmark pizza in Montreal

Posted: March 20, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Bottega | Type of restaurant: Pizza, Italian Bistro | Address: 65 Rue St Zotique E, Montreal| When: 19-03-2015 19:00| Phone:(514) 277-810 | URL: http://www.bottega.ca/

01Their pizza Margherita (only the simple pizzas matter to me as they reveal the quality of the dough)  has always been the one by which I have always judged all other Margherita pizzas in town and that was not going to change on this evening: as ever, half the battle is the wood-fired oven that they have on the premises. But such advantage means nothing without proper skills, and skills they have -> the crust carefully and timely baked  and in typical traditionally Neapolitan fashion, soft at the centre, charred in spots, bubbled up, the taste of the san marzano tomato  as well as the quality mozzarella  fresh and delicious. As with most Italian staples, pizza is not rocket science, and certainly not meant to trigger wowness, but then you’ve got to do it well, this well! 8/10

02My starter was homemade ravioli with braised veal. Very good execution of the pasta, the texture delicate, the taste good. For Montreal, a very  good serving of ravioli,  just not dazzling (I do expect  richer flavors  with a serving of this sort)   8/10

My Mom picked fried calamari, which were fine, not too greasy, avoiding dryness, so nicely moist though I had better fried calamari elsewhere in town. Still, tasty as expected. The real quip here is that the side of tomato sauce is charged as an extra $1.50. Certainly not the end of the world, but I do not think that the sauce that is supposed to accompany your calamari and that is not charged everywhere else should come as ….an extra. 7/10 for the calamari

03My Mom and I shared the tiramisu as well as the homemade gelato (mix of pistacchio and mango). My Mom scored the tiramisu with a 6/10 and the gelato with a 5/10 as, in her own words …. “they both are couple of notches behind  what I had at Giolitti in Roma“”””  — well, I can only compare what I was having on this evening with what is available in Montreal, and in my assessment, this is one of the finest gelati you’ll get in town(8/10 by Montreal standards). As for the tiramisu, YES…I had better ones at couple of other Italian restaurants in Montreal,  but the one at Bottega  remains of good standard — with perhaps no dazzling coffee flavor and no particularly bold flavors of cocoa as sometimes showcased by an exceptional tiramisu, but it’s done  properly and tastes good. The proof, I keep ordering it whenever I go back there  —  (7/10 for me).

During  this meal, I was with my Mom, herself an exceptional cook and I am not saying this because she is my Mom. She knows Italy and its food as well if not better than the big majority of Italian foodies and her opinion of Bottega is that this pizza is one of the few, outside of Italy, that gets her as close as possible to the genuine Neapolitan style pizzas she had in Italy with the exception that in Naples the presentation is generally more rustic (meaning more toppings, less refinement).

PROS: Pizza Bottega continues to consistently rank high among the few eateries that I deem worthy of my hard earned money. For sure, as with  any eatery, your bill can increase proportionally to your will to flash the cash,  but at least, here, the job is done as it should.

CONS: (1)The ravioli of this evening featured a refinement that plenty of ambitious restaurants, here and abroad,  would strike to deliver, which justified, in my view, the high score I did assign to it, BUT when you say ‘BRAISED MEAT’, then I am expecting BOLD/RICH FLAVOR, which inevitably was not going to come from VEAL….unless the seasoning fills the gap. It did not, on this instance.Again, perhaps this won’t be an issue for new-gen of diners, but for me, it was. (2) Obviously, I love Bottega because they feed me with what I believe to be Montreal’s best  pizza –all types of pizzas taken into account — but my gut reaction is that it could take itself to the next level if they transformed the place into a hip cicchetti bar (Italian tapas bar) . It certainly doesn’t have to,  given its popularity but it is a concept that could thrive in Montreal (certainly an upcoming trend, btw) and for once … the food will be at the height of the concept. (3)Why charging extra for the tomato sauce of the fried calamari?? I gather that this was a sauce of superior quality, the tomato really great,but …

Bottom line: On the back of the myriad of reviews about pizzas in Montreal, one would think  that Montreal is a city blessed with great pizzas. The reality is totally different: between disgusting greasy attempts at overdressed pizzas …masking the work of a dough that they simply can’t get right and gross cardboard crusts, most baked in gaz ovens, the big majority of the pizzas in Montreal are  a world away from any remote notion of a decent pizza. But the pizza at  Bottega on St Zotique –regardless of the fact that not  many pizza joints do bake Neapolitan pizza in town —  (they have one in Laval, which,  although good, especially for what you’ll get in Laval, I find to be a tad inferior to the one on St Zotique) is not one of those as  demonstrated by the superior soucing of the ingredients (real san marzano tomato, superior flour), superb crust, faultless topping . The only thing to keep in mind is that this is not your grossly overdressed sort of pizza, but a refined neapolitan pizza. Some serious pizza not just for Montreal, but also for plenty of big cities around the globe.

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