Bevo Bar + Pizzeria
410 Rue Saint Vincent/ Rue Saint-Amable
Chef Hats: 3
Cost: $ 192.05
This week we wanted to try another restaurant participating in The Happening Gourmand Festival before it concludes on February 7th. Wanting to take full advantage of the great prices and meaning to try another one of the restaurants on their repertoire, Bevo Bar + PIzzeria was on our list since its opening in 2012. After some difficulty trying to book a table, due to our group availability and schedule we managed to get the group together last weekend on Saturday at 6pm. Our intentions were good and we wanted to try their special menu, but when we got there, our palates got the best of us and we went a la carte, with no regrets.
Some may remember the location of this restaurant as being the Old Galliano’s on St Vincent in the heart of Old Montreal one block east of Place Jacques Cartier Square. In 2012 it changed names to Bevo Bar + Pizzeria and Chef Giovanni Vella took charge of the kitchen as Executive Chef. After that life has never been the same, in this tensely filled tourist section of Old Montreal. A serious contender to the Montreal Pizza scene with its wood burning oven, soon others followed in the area, but one can say that it is the leader of the first true Italian Pizza in this part of the city dominated by food catering to the tourist masses.
What I did not realize before last night was that BEVO is as much of a bar then a restaurant and it not only serves pizza but great Italian food. Upon walking in and opening it big glass front doors, you are met with a red neon lit bar on the right and a restaurant on the left. To some the red neon may disturb the senses, to other it is an appetite opener. Cool and urban in setting, one would think odd in this part of town that houses historical landscapes. The outside with its stone brick façade is typical of many buildings in Old Montreal creating a turn of century feeling and a bygone era of European charm and flare. Once inside the stone walls create a warm rustic setting. Bevo has multi level floors and an open air concept design, broken up into two spaces, a bar & a restaurant, it has a dining area with tables and a bar area with stools and high chairs. The bar looks like an enclave, with its subdued red lighting and high ceiling, a perfect place to hide and be cool. The restaurant area has an exterior wall with large black windows that open up in the summer onto Ruelle des Artistes; the atmosphere is festive and relaxed at the same time. On the right side, in the main dining room the wood burning oven warms up the atmosphere and its glass floor to ceiling wine case warms up the senses.
We were shown to our table by the host who gave us the corner table near the window. A brightly lit spot, where we were able to admire every angle of the restaurant, and the workings of the cooks at the wood burning pizza oven and the activities on the street on this particular night. Our friendly and very attractive young waitress introduced herself, letting us know that she was on training this evening and it being her first night here. To some at the table this was an open invitation to hardship and teasing.
We were given two menus, the Happening Gourmand tasting menu and the regular menu. We chose from the regular menu as none of us were too enthralled and in the mood with what was on the tasting menu. So much for the inexpensive meal, going cheap this evening was not an option.
To start off our drinking festivities we began with a glass of Prosecco Sangria, which consisted of Bubbly, 7up, orange juice and brandy. Light and not very strong, it is a woman’s type drink and more suited for brunch than a night of hard drinking. To go with our meals we ordered again (because we liked it so many two weeks ago) the wine being highlighted this year during the festival at all the restaurants participating in Happening Gourmand.
The Vina Carmen, Chardonnay Reserva 2015, and the Chili Red wine Vina Carmen, Carmenère Reserva 2014, Chili by the glass for $ 9 .00. We enjoyed this wine so much that seconds were in order. Not knowing how much we were going to drink, it would have been more economical to go with a bottle at $40.00. A decent price for a good wine. A word of warning, bold in flavor on the onset this wine needs to decant to improve the flavor. It went well with the tomato sauce on the pasta and pizza. The white chardonnay wine offset the risotto beautifully.
Our choices were simple tonight, after much after thought, Giancarlo our second waiter suggested the rose sauce for the Pescatore dish for $ 21.00. It consisted of Linguine with seafood. A good choice as this was one of the better dishes of the evening. Topped with parmesan, the pasta was fresh, the rose sauce delicate and very tasty, and authentically Italian and savoury. The highlight of the meal it consisted of lots of baby scallops and shrimp. As an accompagnement with the Pescatore Pasta, we ordered as an entrée a salad of baby arugula for $ 9.00 topped with parmesan shavings and balsamic vinaigrette. It was light with a little olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette and a sure appetite opener.
Another entree of Insalata Verde for $ 9.00 was ordered. This consisted of a mixture of romaine lettuce, red and green salad frisée and quartered tomatoes in a red wine vinaigrette. It lacked in flavor and seasoning and the tomatoes were a little overdone and tasteless. Additional pepper was required to give it a kick.
The zuppa del giorno for $6.00 consisted of a cream of broccoli soup, this was tasty and creamy and warranted on such a cold night. An additional order of Foccacia $5.00 was ordered to go with the salads. The Foccacia came served piping hot, with specks of oregano and sprinkle of parmesan. The dough was heavenly and chewy and the flavors divine. I could not wait for my main meal. I heard the pizza was good here and I wanted to try it for a while to add to my list of good Italian Pizza’s sampled in Montreal. This is a must, guaranteed you cannot go wrong, especially if you are a pizza aficionado like me.
I chose the Pizza Emilia Romagna this evening, meat ragu, pancetta, mozzarella and parsley for $ 17.00. The pizza was cooked to perfection and half was filling enough for me. I loved the flavors, but thought it heavy on the ragu sauce. The pancetta was cooked, but I still prefer, fresh prosciutto any time. Sometimes I do not deviate from my likes and wants too much, I can be a creature of habit. But I gotta say it was not disappointing and the remainder was taken home and had for lunch the next day, the dough still tasted heavenly even cold.
The last main course was the Risotto Porcini for $ 18.00, a generous portion of perfectly cooked creamy risotto and porcini mushrooms, topped with parmesan cheese. The plate consisted of enough porcini to give the dish its woodsy flavors. It was satisfying and filling enough to please and comfort the soul on a cold evening; a carbohydrate lovers paradise.
Too stuffed to have any desserts, we opted for coffee, in three forms short espresso, caffe latte and Chocolate latte. Worth a mention is their nutella pizza, which has become a fixture in many pizzerias of late that host a wood fire oven.
The service at BEVO was outstanding tonight, not made easy with the excessive drinking and the sardonic comments flying back and forth, the waitress did not know how to take us, literally! Being her first day on the job she must have gotten a rude awakening and a lesson in hospitality and a lesson on how to handle difficult customers. She handled it well and with lots of class, always keeping her smile but sometimes not knowing if we were serious or joking. At some point Giancarlo stepped in and took helm, he turned an almost sour situation into a lively one. His suggestions were on the mark, especially with the pasta dish and even though we threatened him with death the true Italian Way, he took us with a grain of salt. Funny he must have thought “the characters you meet in old Montreal in the midst of winter, the cold does brings out the weirdest of people.”
With a few bruise egos and lots of liquor in our systems we concluded the Happening Gourmand Festival for its 9th edition. Au revoir and a l’année prochain if god willing.