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1446A Crescent St.

Mon. - Fri 11:30 a.m. - 12 a.m.; Sat. 12 p.m. - 1 a.m.; Sun. 12 p.m. - 11 p.m. Credit cards: Most major. Phone: 845-4158
If you follow the turistas on a balmy summer evening in downtown Montreal you’ll more than likely end up on Crescent street somewhere between Sherbrooke and St. Catherine. This stretch is lined with terrasses and quaint walkups, the buildings generally of the older Victorian commercial sort. Among the venerable resto/pubs here is Sir Winston Churchill Pub (Winnie’s) and Ziggy’s, both places where the downtown journalist/paper tradespeople gather for a few after work (and sometimes into the wee hours.)

Right in this block lies Pizzaiole, a rather conspicuous place with a loud Italian-colored awning boasting “pizza four de bois” (wood-oven pizza,) actually quite a common attribute of pizza places in Montreal these days.

Squeezed into two floors with an effort, it’s a tight fit, which is to say that the tables will be too close together for some. Both floors are dominated in the center by the wood ovens, where the pizza guy slaves sweating over your pie and the salad guy shovels romaine and croutons. It’s kind of rustic, in a contrived sort of way.

While not exactly a Montreal landmark, Pizzaiole has been here for nigh on 17 years, so it wears its act like a comfortable old shoe.

The main menu is dominated by pizzas—37 of them, to be exact. The choice runs from the Margherita (tomato sauce, cheese, $6.35) through the Asparago (sauce rosée, fontina cheese, asparagus, $8.30) all the way to the Four Cheeses and Apples (tomato sauce, mozarella, brick, fontina, parmesan, apples, $10.55.)

There are a couple of calzones (Vesuviana—tomato sauce, bechamel, ham, mushroom, peppers, olives, cheese, $11.40; Volcano—tomato sauce, bechamel, Italian sausage, onions, olives, cheese, $11.40) and a few token pastas. Appetizers include bruschetta and various salads. There’s a fairly reasonably-priced wine list which features Italian, French and Chilean wines.

A Cesar salad was mundane, with most of the lettuce being of the less desirable dark-green parts, and the dressing was muted and uninspired. A salty anchovy couldn’t wake it up. The bruschetta appeared to be robust and chunky but the bread was past its prime and the tomatoes slightly bitter. A complimentary side of triangles of foccacia was a bit chewy—I’ve definitely had better (Casa Napoli comes to mind.)

The pizza, however, in this case a “Charcutière”—tomato sauce, capicollo, pancetta, pepperoni, Italian sausage, cheese, $11.40—came straight from the oven on its own 12” plate with the deli meats neatly segregated into quarters atop a crispy, puffy browned thin crust. It was a delight for the eye and the garlicky aroma was irrestistible. Happily, the crust was indeed crispy and the mozzarella was gooily stringy and deliciously plentiful. Unfortunately the server forgot his promise of “bringing spices to the table.” My guess is that this would have consisted of dried chili flakes. Still, three-quarters of the pizza was devoured before we could eat no more.

A Pasta Alla Carbonara (cream sauce, white wine, parmesan, onions and pancetta, $11.35) didn’t fare nearly as well as the pizza. While not a culinary disaster, it was lukewarm and a bit salty and the pasta was slightly overcooked. I’ve had worse versions, however—there are some who might prefer their Carbonara this way.

Fellow diners seemed content to plow their way through whole pizzas—we were practically the only ones with a pasta order, so don’t come here expecting an all-round Italian experience. However, they make a pretty good pie, one of the better I’ve tasted in Montreal.—
Reviewed by Nicholas Robinson

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