Sicily is one of my favorite places on earth. Why? It’s beautiful, the people are supernice, island = beaches, and of course, the food is insane. The Sicilians have it right – no-fuss traditional southern Italian cuisine. If you want haute and nouveau, you’re totally missing the point.
As much as I love eating at chi-chi restaurants that often have more style than the people eating there, I usually don’t like my food to be overly fussy. I believe in fresh seasonal ingredients prepared in a way that makes them shine. That’s why I was so impressed with Osteria Venti.
A traditional osteria is a simple traditional Italian “eat & drink” place serving uncomplicated food. And although trendy and located in a “happening” area of the city’s Old Port ,Venti is exactly that. It’s raw, simple, slightly rustic, but still clean and modern. Some may think the space lacks charm, but I think it’s exactly as it should be. The space and atmosphere reflect the cooking – real Italian. Like, from Italy. You know what I mean… No whitewashing or false pretention. Here, it’s 100% about the food.
I ordered the shrimp salad with fennel and capers as an appetizer, the Brussel sprouts with pancetta as a side dish, baked roman-style semolina gnocchi as another side dish, and spelt flour pappardelle with a mushroom cream sauce as a main.
The shrimp salad was delicious and fresh. It was a nice consolation prize after having ordered the same salad with octopus and being told that there was none left. Octopus is supertrendy right now, order more for next Friday night!
The Brussel spouts were well-grilled and still crunchy. Nothing exciting here, just good-tasting vegetables and Italian charcuterie. The tiny gnocchi were very good too, with creamy melted cheese and tomato sauce poured over them.
I was so seduced with the idea of a mushroom cream sauce that I took the leap of faith with the spelt pasta (half portion). Lo and behold, it was amazing. The pasta and the sauce were fresh and homemade, the pappardelle was perfectly cooked al dente, and the whole was drizzled with green olive oil. I have to say, this is the best pasta dish I’ve had in Montreal.
Finally, we looked at the Dolce menu and chose the tiramisu – I had heard people rave about it. What can I say? It was thick and creamy and cheesy… Mouth-wateringly delicious. Was it due to the chef’s secret ingredient? We’ll never know… But as long as he keeps making it and cute waiters keep bringing it, we’re good.
I can understand why Osteria Venti was voted Opentable’s 2011 Diners’ Choice restaurant. To put it simply, it’s delicious, and the price-quality rapport is amazing. Venti encompasses all the best that authentic rustic Italian cuisine has to offer, and hey, it’s cheaper than a plane ticket.
Food 9/10, Atmosphere (goodforgroups) 8/10, Pretty people (oldercrowd) 7.5/10, Music (wasthereany?) -/10, Service 8.5/10.