Caffe Un Po’ Di Piu
3 Rue de la Commune E,
Phone: (514) 861-8686
Chef Hats: 4
** Disclaimer: This restaurant was sampled before the quarantine from Covid-19 in Quebec. Therefore, the articles are pre dated before Feb 29th,2020. We are looking forward to returning to dining out after the quarantine is lifted and restaurants re-open.
From the team that brought us Olive et Gourmando and Foxy, comes a new Italian restaurant called Un Po’ di Più. The restaurant whose theme was born from the concept of the Italian “aperitivo” is more than just a wine bar. The idea spawned from the need to have us experience the Art of Italian Aperitivo, who the principal owners, Dyan Solomon and Eric Girard sampled during their travels to Italy.
For those who may not know what an aperitivo or apéritif is (on this side of the Atlantic) is often the name of a drink that is had at the onset of a meal. In Italy, it has a whole different meaning. It is usually a two-hour prelude to a light dinner either served in a bar, café or small restaurant; similar to the North America’s Happy Hour. The difference being, the light meal is comprised of a variety of small plates. Originally a Northern Italian tradition, both Milan and Venice, who seem to have coined the phrase, and are masters at it. The style of Aperitivo’s vary from region to region, but Milano is the best place to partake in Aperitivo. They have both a good selection of food and drink.
Venice, who has a similar custom, call their wine bars Bacaro’s, they serve what is called cicchetti, small bites of traditional Venetian food with ombra, a glass of local wine. The farther south you go in Italy, the harder it is to find a wine bar that serve the classic Aperitivo’s in true Milanese style. The South call their small meals, stuzzichini, a type of finger food that are served with drinks. The wine bar trend is catching on in Rome and Naples and further south in Sicily, but it has some way to go.
Un Po di Più, meaning a little more in Italian, opened in summer 2018, on de la Commune street in the Old Port. The locale that houses the restaurant sits in a turn of the century hundred-year-old building that was totally revamped. Solomon’s other restaurant-Foxy, located in Griffin town, also runs along the same principals and is also classified as a wine bar. The difference between the two, aside from the cuisine, is Foxy serves small plates that are cooked in a charcoal oven. Un Po’ di Più, not only serves small bites, but also serves full meals and dessert. Their menu is centered around Italian food called-sputini -small bites and piatti-larger meals.
Un Po’di Piu is set in a beautifully manicured space designed by the renown Zébulon Perron , who is also responsible for many of Montreal’s other stunning gourmet restaurants. Voted as one of Montreal’s most beautiful restaurants, the atmosphere is subdued with its low bearing ceilings, exposed brick walls, and wrap around bar. The bar which is the room’s main focus, is the first thing that catches your eye upon entering the establishment. At night, it’s lit up with impressive light fixtures, that illuminate it from under and make it seem like it’s floating island. The style of the restaurant is reminiscent of a vintage Italian Enoteca, with modern themes, mirrors, mosaic ceramic tiles in brown, grey & industrial green hues with matching wall color.
The restaurant is not huge, its seating capacity is about 20-30 people. For the summer, it boasts a seating capacity of 85 on their terrace. It definitely has more of a wine bar feeling than bistro. But you will find small round tables just for a tète a tète and banquettes to accommodate larger groups. Un Po’ di Più has a great selection of natural Italian wines, classic cocktails, amari, vermouths, grappa and serves a fantastic espresso exclusive to the restaurant which was inspired by a coffee roaster of Verona. Not only is it a great spot to stop for a bite, it is a great place to people watch and enjoy aperitivo on a lazy afternoon. It is also great pit stop for those discerning tourists to unwind after a long day of sightseeing, an ideal spot to enjoy the feel of Europe in North America.
In the kitchen, we have a team lead by the talented chef Nicholas Giambattisto, formerly from Joe Beef, and sous-chef Jess Malet, formerly of Larry’s. Together, they have created a list of dishes that are best sampled and designed to be shared amongst a group. But they can also be sampled individually. There is no shortage of seasonal salads, soups, appetizers and pasta dishes to satisfy any palate. The focus is fresh market cuisine, with lots of fresh vegetables and locally produced Quebec meat. The menu changes seasonally, but you are guaranteed to get something delicious and creative every time.
The evening we visited; we received a special menu for Montreal à Table 2019. It consisted of three course meal made up of an entrée, main meal and dessert. We started the meal with a glass of white wine from Veneto-Casa Belfi for $ 12.00. It had crisp flowery notes and paired well with the meal, but it would have been perfect as a summer wine.
For our entrée, we received, a Burrata, which was flavorfully delicious. The presentation was a little messy, but the taste made up for it. It came topped with Roasted Eggplant, Peppers, walnuts, pickled raisins, a hint of tomato, greens, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Loved the texture of the crunchy walnuts, and the acidity and sweetness of the pickled fruit against the balsamic vinegar. A good combination, but who would have thought. It had a distinctive middle eastern flavor, but was genuinely Italian. The Burrata was a mound of fresh mild soft cheese, the quality was superior. We both raved about this appetizer.
We ordered for our main meal the Pasta e Fagioli. This is not something I would typically order, as it is considered peasant food in Italy. But it was a cold night and we needed a good warm hearty soup. This one came served with chunks of sausage, beans and root vegetables and topped with a generous portion of parmesan shavings. It was more like a pasta dish and did not contain much broth, just a few spoonsful could be found at the bottom of the plate. But we were not complaining, as we both were in awe at how good it tasted. It had to be one of the best Pasta e Fagioli we both ever have tasted in our lifetime.
For dessert, we choose between two desserts a pancotta with berry compote, served with homemade biscotti and an apple caramel cake a la mode, with slivers of white chocolate and espresso coffee. The coffee was aromatic and strong and hit the spot. Both desserts were to our liking and very good.
Service was professional and quick, there were not many people in the restaurant this evening, so we had the waiters’ undivided attention. But he was courteous and to the point, no small chit chat, he left us to talk and did not disturb us much. We loved this evening, quietly sitting inside looking out on the empty streets on a cold November evening. Nobody ever expected it was to become the norm four months down the line. As this goes to print, all I can do is dream of returning. I truly miss my weekends dining out, but hopefully Un Po di Piu is on the agenda for the summer. Nothing is better in Montreal than to sit outside on a warm evening, enjoying watching people go by in the Old Port and eating fine Italian cuisine and a little vino in North America’s most beautiful European city. Un Po’di Piu should be on everyone’s bucket list.