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We Need More Napkins

I eat, drink, cook and pour gnarly things, then share with the world.

By Justin Ludwig.

When Ashley was going to school at McGill, back when our relationship was young and tumultuous, she lived for a year in Little Italy. She fell in love with the coffee and the culture and of course all the food at her doorstep, despite being so student-poor at the time that she didn’t even own a spoon (literally.) I visited in 2007 and she took me for the first time to Pizzeria Napoletana, a traditional Italian family spot that ALWAYS has a line-up outside and boasts some of the best food in the neighbourhood. When my band visited Montreal on tour in 2010 we went back, and just this past weekend I got to make my third visit in a decade. It’s the best.

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Like I said, there is always a line in front of this place, but with the dépaneur across the street and the restaurant’s lack of corkage fees you can at least drink wine, and on a nice night the wait is actually rather pleasant. Inside, the restaurant is as gloriously tacky as one would hope and expect, with a giant plastic tree serving as tent pole for the bustling circus of noisy eating families and the thick men serving tables. They’ve added a bunch of flatscreens since I was last there, which is a drag, but maybe they’re there to keep the kids occupied. Who knows. TV’s in restaurants are the worst. Anyway…

There were four of us sitting for dinner, weary from a weekend of partying and hungry from an hour spent waiting for a table. It was a family affair, which is what Pizzeria Napoletana was made for.

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We started with an antipasti platter and a green salad with artichokes and olives. The platter was great, with an amazing spicy salami being the major highlight. Nothing gets the appetite going for a meal like this quite like some cured meats and salty delicacies like olives and anchovies, especially when paired with good wine (which is a luxury that BYOB affords a table in spades.)

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Even though this photo looks like a miscarriage, it’s actually the most delicious cannelloni, stuffed with meat and topped with thick-cut prosciutto and baked mozzarella. Cannelloni is really one of my favourite traditional pasta dishes, as it really strikes the right balance and proportion of noodle, meat, cheese and sauce. I love the fresh, bright tomato sauce at Napoletana, despite what some Italian purists may say.*

*I KNOW YOU’RE READING THIS, KELLY.

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Finally, the pizza! The first is topped with olives, anchovies, pesto, onion, feta and sliced tomato; the second boasts a simpler profile of prosciutto, tomato concassee and arugula. Both were really delicious, with a perfectly crispy crust and just the right balance of fresh, savoury toppings. I love true deep dish, but proper wood-fired Neopolitan pizza is the apex.

Well worth the wait, every time. Bellissimo!

Pizzeria Napoletana on Urbanspoon

1 year ago
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