The Divas love Italian food. And we love the idea of tapas because we like to try as much of a menu as we can. We made reservations for Dolcetto in Old Montreal, quite eager to enjoy their Italian tapas menu. However, on this Thursday night, the Divas and company were not impressed. Located on St. Paul, Dolcetto & Co opened their doors in 2012. The concept is simple; come in for a glass of wine and a few small bites to eat on your way to your next destination, or stop by after a show. Maybe this is where the Divas went wrong. We went for an entire meal instead of just snacking here and there. And while some dishes stood out, overall, we were underwhelmed.
We were a big group; Diva #1 loves dinners with all of her friends and loves bringing people together. So the Divas, Sweet Pea and two of her friends, the Artist, Vegan Vixen, Bellatrix, Sensei, Whitey and her sister, all sat down to see what Dolcetto & Co. was all about. We had a great large square table at the center of the restaurant, an entire wall of windows that were opened onto St-Paul, generally we felt fabulous.
One of the guests was bait for our Sensei; he wanted a lady, so we tried to prostitute one for him. She thankfully never caught on, but sadly it did not work out. Poor poor Sensei sat with ten women; some loud, others insane, most bitchy, a couple were PMS-ing; and to be honest, most of us were at least two of these attractive characteristics.
Diva #2 and the Artist decided to stick to cocktails for the night. Diva #2 ordered the Veloce which was not very strong but rather fruity, and as the Artist put it, “you didn’t order juice!” Meanwhile, the Artist opted for the Nuovo. Definitely stronger than the previous drink, the bourbon certainly hit you. It also had apples pieces diced up in the drink which was great to snack on. Another drawback was that the cocktails took a very long time to get to our table, so much so, that we never took a picture because we needed to quench our thirst. Diva #1 and company opted for wine but they did not have their initial choice in their cellar, so they were forced to settle on something else.
“Veloce : Bacardi + coulis de fruits de champ + menthe + lime” 10$
“Nuovo: pommes + menthe + bourbon + jus de pommes” 11$
We were given paper menus and a pencil to check off the boxes of the dishes we wanted to try. This was a nice concept especially because since the menu was tapas style, you tend to order a lot and can’t remember it all. Many a times the Divas have taken notes on their phones to remember the many things that they wanted to order. Because we were such a large group, we sampled a good portion of the menu.
There is a section on the menu where you can create your own cheese and charcuterie plate. Most of the meat products are imported, though there are some that are made in-house. Diva #1 and company ordered the fontina cheese and the ‘Nduja. The fontina cheese was as expected and it came with tiny sweet grapes that added a nice sweet touch. The ‘Nduja was a spicy spread that had a good kick to it and was lovely when eaten with crusty bread, and the fontina cheese. It was nice to see that something was actually spicy when advertised as such.
Diva #2 and the Artist ordered the mozzarella di bufala and homemade porchetta. The mozzarella was fresh and creamy and dressed simply with a little bit of olive oil, black pepper and a chiffonade of basil. The porchetta was made in-house. Sliced very thin and presented on a thick wooden cutting board, it was moist and juicy and very well seasoned. Whitey and her little sister ordered the salame, it was decent but once again nothing impressive. Perhaps we are spoiled because we have tasted some truly amazing charcuterie plates, often with meats cured in-house and full of flavour. This salame tasted like it could have been bought from a run-of-a-mill grocery store. During our meal, Whitey and her little sister pointed out a couple at a nearby table that kept staring at us, probably appalled by the stories they heard! We lack discretion in public places.
The antipasti were next. The caprese salad with basil burratta was probably the best dish we had. The burrata was a generous amount and topped with extra virgin olive oil, basil, and salt and pepper. Unfortunately the tomatoes could have been more flavourful but the cheese was very enjoyable. We also ordered the eggplant au gratin. The eggplant was stuffed with fontina, prosciutto and mushrooms. The presentation was lovely as it arrived as a mini eggplant halved and stuffed. The stuffing was decent but seasoning was lacking, and there was not a lot of cheese on this au gratin dish.
Diva #1 and company also had the gnocchi and truffle cream, this was very disappointing. The gnocchi were overcooked, and the truffle sauce was too runny, there was just too much cream. The sauce pooled at the bottom of the dish and the gnocchi were not coated enough due to the runniness of the sauce. Diva #1 thought it was decent but Diva #2, an Italian girl who knows her gnocchi, reminded her of all the delicious gnocchi dishes that we had had elsewhere; this one just didn’t meet expectations.
We ordered two plates of the veal cheek braised in red wine because so many people wanted to try it. Unfortunately, we were disappointed. The veal cheek was not tender which is very rare, and it was overcooked and chewy. The mashed squash that came with the dish was the most impressive part of this tapas, so we ate the purée and left most of the meat.
We also tried the polenta dish. The best part of the dish was the crusty bottom on the polenta. The taleggio cheese didn’t mix well and the polenta itself was rather bland. The roasted red peppers and mushrooms, dressed as a salad, would have been a nice side dish on its own, but coupled with the polenta it was not impressive.
We were looking forward to the octopus and fennel salad but this too didn’t meet our standards. The octopus was mealy and tasted like it had sat in the dressing for far too long. The lime dressing was barely noticeable at all and the fennel to octopus ratio was skewed in favour of too much fennel. Even the colour of the octopus itself was off, it didn’t seem fresh.
Whitey and her little sister tried the antipasti of the day which was radicchio, served with scattered pistachios and shaved parmesan. They were disappointed, as they were expecting something else, maybe with a bit more spunk.
The meal seemed to pick up when our pizzettes, or mini pizzas, were brought to the table. Diva #1 and her side of the table started with the four cheese pizza. It wasn’t salty enough nor did the fact that this pizza had more than one cheese really stand out. Maybe if gorgonzola or another strong cheese was added it would be clear that this pizza had more than mozzarella. Unfortunately it needed more than just four white cheeses that were similar enough to taste the same.
We also opted for the Sicilian calzone which is a pocket of pizza dough stuffed with a spicier tomato sauce, similar to arrabbiata, as well as olives, spicy pepperoni, garlic and cheese. This was a tasty option, and Bellatrix chose well. It was well seasoned and the calzone was stuffed with a lot of ingredients, which was great because often, calzones are too bready, and not cheesy and saucy enough.
Though The Divas were sitting at opposite ends of the table, we still managed to both order two of the same pizzas, great minds think alike; the bianca with roasted squash, pancetta and burratta and the foie gras foaccia, which was a chef specialty. The bianca was very good. The combination of ingredients mixed well together. The squash was cut thinly and was a tad sweet which was offset by the salty, crispy circles of fried pancetta, a very generous amount of meat, and the burratta, well, that’s just a little piece of heaven, creamy and soft. We can‘t get enough of this cheese and it helped make a good pizza.
The fig and foie gras pizza was good. The figs were sweet, and aplenty, but the foie gras left something to be desired. There was plenty of foie gras on the pizza but maybe it would have been better had it been seared to add a caramelized flavour to blend with the sweet figs. It was an interesting pizza that could have been done a little differently to enhance its flavours. It was a touch too sweet but had the foie gras been seared until it was darker, or some vinegary balasamic was drizzled, perhaps it would have made the pizza more gourmet.
Whitey and her sister did not get too adventurous, after all, they are white people, and opted for the margherita with burrata pizzette. The tomato sauce lacked flavour and was unimpressive and once again the pizzette was saved by the delicious burrata and basil topping. Unfortunately for Dolcetto & Co., good Italian pizza is measured by the crust and simple tomato sauce, and we weren’t impressed with their sauce. Their second pizzette was the roasted eggplants, caramelized onions and ricotta pizza. Once again it was decent but seasoning and olive oil were missing to tie in the eggplant, caramelized onions and ricotta. In a city filled with delicious stops for pizza, Dolcetto & Co. fell short of our expectations, especially for a restaurant in Old Montreal.
With the main part of the meal over, everyone got up and mingled with those who were too far to talk to during the meal. Our table was a very large square which was unfortunate because it left a lot of useless empty space in the middle and made you feel further than necessary from someone across the table. Maybe the best part of the night was flirting with the firemen on Truck 205, who passed the restaurant on more than one occasion and said we should call them but didn’t leave their number … trust us, we would have called!
Sadly Sensei did not get laid (again) but at least he couldn’t complain that we didn’t try our best to make it happen. He is just so finicky and strange, at least he and Diva #1 didn’t fight, and she only kissed his head once during the entire dinner, this is progress!
Overall, this Italian tapas restaurant didn’t impress the Divas. We don’t recommend having an entire meal here. Perhaps it is best to simply drop in for a glass of wine and one or 2 tapas and be on your way. Just the next week, P’tit Soeur, Sweet Pea and their friends went to Dolectto & Co.’s for dinner, against Diva #1’s advice, and had the same things to say, some tapas were decent but in all it was just meh!
Our Rating: Meh!
Tagged: 151 St Paul, Affogato, Antipasto, Bar, Bianca, Burratta, Calzone, Caprese, Charcuterie, Cheese, Chef Marcelo, Cocktails, Dolcetto, Dolcetto & Co., Dolcetto Montreal, Dolcetto Old Montreal, Dolcetto St-Paul, Focaccia, foie gras, Fontina, Four Cheese, Gnocchi, H2Y 1Z6, Italian, Meh!, Montreal, Mozzarella di bufala, Nutella Pizza, Octopus, Old Montreal, Old Port, Pizza, Pizzette, Polenta, Porchetta, Reservations Needed, Salame, Speck, St-Paul, Taleggio, tapas, Tiramisu, Veal Cheek, wine, Wine Bar, ‘Nduja