Bàcaro Pizzeria Urbaine
4259 Ste Catherine O/corner Olivier
Montreal (Westmount), Quebec
Cost: $ 115.03 (for two including drinks, taxes and tip)
Chef Hats: 3.5
I was excited to hear back in August 2014 that Westmount had gotten a new restaurant called Bacaro Pizzeria Urbaine. I was even more excited to hear that it was Chef Angelo Mercuri from Restaurant Vago around the corner on Greene who was the brain child and culinary hand behind the idea and the kitchen. So I added Bacaro to my wish list of restaurants to go for the New Year. A big fan of all that is the Mercuri clan, I have been to Vago numerous times while working on Greene Avenue and always enjoyed it. I have read that most restaurant critics say is advisable to give the new restaurant start ups a few months to get their grove together and to iron out the quirks. I am always looking for new pizza places for my Friday night indulgences. Westmount is an area I enjoy especially in the summer as it is away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, but you still get that downtown feeling. I like the way the streets go dead silent after six o’clock and you have the whole place to yourself, it desolately quiet for those romantic on date nights when you want to be alone walking the streets. What can I say, Westmount is a special place!
The idea and premise for Bacaro’s is suppose to be similar to that of the Venetian bacaros (taverns), in Italy which are a sort of local neighborhood meeting place for family and friends. They are usually a small humble restaurant that serves simple homemade food accompanied with local wines in a glass called ombretta. Bacaro’s mission tries to stay true to this Venetian tradition while adding a Montreal touch with our local products and style to create a unique experience. Chef Angelo Mercuri has also created every item on the menu from the wood fire pizza to the nutella fritters. They change up the menu every few weeks by adding a new pizza. So you will never get bored.
On the night we visited Bàcaro, we were there to celebrate my friend Grace’s Birthday. Hailing from Monaco, (close enough to Italy and Venice) she is it the epitome of class and a royalty. She had meticulously organized the evening herself, it was to unfold like this. We were to have cocktails and Prosecco at the bar, a fixed menu of pizza and salads and more prosecco for dessert, with coffee and cake.
Frenchie and I were the first to arrive and were shown to a reserved table for twelve people in the back of the restaurant. Not knowing of the arrangement that were made with the restaurant, we sat there and ordered our drinks, a bottle of mineral water San Pellegrino -$6.00, a glass of Valpolicella -Bolla -$ 7.00 and a local beer from Brierbier on tap for $7.00.
Yes, the wine was served in old-fashioned Italian wine glasses as in the true Bacaro’s of Venice, not the fancy tall stemmed wine glasses we are used to in fine eating establishments. T his is a casual pizzeria and they stay true to their mission in bringing you closest to the true experience. This was a good start and inexpensive as this is one of the cheapest prices I have seen for wine by the glass in a while and you get your 2-4 ounces in these glasses as they are filled to the brim.
It didn’t take long for the rest of the group to get there. After introductions, best wishes, gift exchanges, and all, we sat down to place our order from the menu which consisted of choosing from the à la carte menu or a fixed menu of two pizzas and two salads for $ 27.00 per person. The restaurant was very accommodating as they upped this to a choice of four pizzas and two salads with fritters for dessert for $ 27.00 per person because we were a large group. Too boot it seemed liked all you can eat, because the pizza kept coming and coming.
Frenchie and I sat across Helena “The Artiste” and her lovely husband Mr. Bobby Kennedy, a worldly man who is not only keenly quick-witted but also over the top funny. We got to the task at hand to order pizzas for us and the group. We started with the basic Margherita pizza (tomato, Basil and Mozzarella di Buffala), a Quattro Formaggio (Goat Cheese, Mozzarella, Fontina and Ricotta with a balsamic vinegar). The Zaza (ground sausage, Mozzarella, red peppers and Basil) and a Pizza Primavera, which consisted of eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, mushrooms, arugula and mozzarella.
For Starters, we ordered the Caesar Salad (Romaine Lettuce, Croutons, Radishes and Parmesan) and a Rucola Salad (Arugula, pine nuts, lemon and parmesan). Both salads were of generous portions and very good. I preferred the latter (Rucola) as it was light and the pine nuts and lemon gave it a little”je ne sais quoi” edge to it. The salads were also replenished a few times during the course of the entrées.
We had two waiters serving us for our table these evening, the first who seated us and took our drinks was very pleasant and friendly ,a little quirky, but you could see from his demeanor that the restaurant management believes in hiring equal opportunity workers and for me this is a plus. I believe everyone deserves a chance and knowing how humble the Mercuri’s are, it’s a big plus for me. Kudos!
The second waiter was very accommodating but miffed as you can see he had a big group to handle and it was a little at a loss. We had to remind him a few time to bring us extra glasses, napkins and forks. All in all improvement in the service department is required. But the place was über overly busy this night and definitely the cause of the chaos.
As for our pizza, they started out good, the Margherita is always a little too plain for me, but it was a good light start, very light and thin crust, well done crust, cooked in wood fire oven and just the right flavors. The Quattro Formaggio pizza could have used a little more cheese, I felt they skimped on that, but it came drizzled with this balsamic vinegar reduction that made it original and very tasty compensating for the lack of oomph with the cheese. The Zaza pizza was our favorite, absolutely delicious, the right blend of Italian minced sausage and cheese, it was filling. The Primavera pizza was a pleasant surprise and very good, it hit the mark for me. The flavors of the eggplant with its tangy kick, the crispy zucchini and asparagus that were perfectly crunchy and not limp, it had copious amounts of arugula that added a little zing of bitterness to the pizza. I topped it with a teaspoon of chili peppers and oil that I found on the table in a jar. Wow! Heavenly!
I just kept eating and was a total glutton this evening with 10 slices under my belt. So I guess they did something right.
For the second round of pizzas, we had some complaints at our table, because the pizzas were a little overcooked, too dry or totally burnt. We have to remember that the wood burning ovens do tend to cook unevenly this is the only drawback with these types of ovens. One must remember that, the flavor is much more superior and better tasting with wood ovens. You have to appreciate this type of pizza, once you have established your preference, than change it up a little. But we did get replacement pizza and we got some to bring home.
Helena and I were ecstatic; we could both enjoy our pizza for morning breakfast and we had enough for the kids. Who can complain? We had lots of fun, laughs, great conversation and lots of positive energy and exchanges. I met some really nice people, made interesting new acquaintances, and all in all it was a very good experience, food wise and socially.
Love you Helena and I will not forget the Bombay bottle of gin next time. Grace, you were very sexy in your apron and glasses all night long, but always classy.
As the night winded down, for dessert, we received a plate of Nutella fritters drizzled with more Nutella chocolate toppings and more prosecco.
I was really full but managed to pop two of these into my mouth. Not a big nutella fan, but I absolutely loved them. The beignets were perfect balls of soft pockets. They were exceptional. I got to take them home too. The prosecco also flowed well with the beignets, as we kept drinking more.
I really like Bacaro, the decor, is very urban, casual and not pretentious, they have TV screens, for those who come to watch hockey, have a good local beer and eat some pizza or entrees or oven baked pastas.
The bathrooms are a thing of the eighties, very retro and a must see. It was the talk of the evening Note: Hand dryers are above the sink if you can reach.
The feel Bacaro is more Montreal than Italy, but the thought is there, the staffs is humble and familiar, the snobbiness of Westmount goes out the window, and felt more that I was in Little Italy or St. Leonard. What can I say again! If you can’t beat them join them but a definite return, over and over again and for the price it worth it.