My regular experience with Italian food are dining in the Old Spaghetti Factory or Anton’s. I remember I was really impressed by the big serving portion of Anton’s dish but never really by the food itself. To me, dining at a family style italian restaurant is more like “Yeah yeah, it’s just pasta or pizza, nothing SO special about Italian food…” and I was so wrong.
During my staying in Montreal, I found there’s tons of Italian restaurants around the city’s busiest restaurant districts, no matter it is on St. Denis, St. Laurence, or Outremont. Little Italian restros are everywhere with pleasant dining environment and moderate price. My old impression of Italian cuisine was holding me back from trying out an Italian restaurant. But that was before the wonderful meal at Le Petit Italien , thanks to my friend Jannie.
We were just wondering in one of those hot summer nights in Montreal. It was our second week of staying in that beautiful little Paris of Canada. I started to notice that the number of Italian restaurants were much greater than the French bistro. We stopped by the Outremont area; visiting little novelty shops, vintage books store just made the time passed by so fast that by the time our stomaches started to sing. Across from the vintage bookstore ran by the lovely french gentleman, was Le Petit Italien. Happy dinners sit under the big red sunbloc umbrellas, wine were pulling, glasses clinking, laughters and smiling faces in each and every table. It is definitely a good sign! Although it did look like a fancier restaurant, we still headed in with our modest traveling student budget.
Last summer the hit movie for foodies around the world is “Ratatouille”, thus we had to order it when we saw it on the menu. It came as a warm salad with sautéed diced fennel and pistachio in a balsamic vinegar reduction. It was sweet, crunchy and with a hint of licorice. Second came the pasta, linguine with grilled chicken and…..grapes! Yes, sweet little white grapes packed with summer flavor instantly lighten up the pasta dish. It was a nice surprise and a great discovery of a new use of grapes for me. I don’t usually like to mix sweet and salty flavor together, but this one was a hit. Under the dim candle light, dinning with a good friend, enjoying a delicious meal, it was such a wonderful meal that to this day, when I think about italian meal, I think about that linguine, that night.