The Mtl Cuisine group has quite a stable of restaurants, all with good reputations. So when they announced that they would be partnering up with the De Riggi family to open a pizza and wine bar in Old Montreal, the Divas were definitely intrigued. Agostino De Riggi and Gian Paolo De Riggi own and operate the pizzeria, it gives Nolana Pizzeria that nice family touch that traditional Italian eateries are known for.
Nolana is more than a pizzeria, it has elements of a traditional Italian eatery, located on McGill, in Old Montreal. Long and narrow, the tiled pizza oven is at the back of the restaurant which is filled with old-school charm, trinkets and industrial touches.
The Divas were joined by Sweet Pea, the Artist and our favourite Foodie Guy, who is adored by the girls. We were greeted with “I know who you are and it won’t affect the service but you have two options, you can order or I can take care of it.” With a statement like that, how could we refuse his expert advice! But how the hell did we know who we are? We didn’t care, and by the end of the night we had nicknamed him Fluffy and we discovered that we had many friends in common.
We started with plenty of sfizi. The frittatine di pasta was a nest of spaghetti, served with artichoke and mint, a nice combination. It was crunchy and salty and not a typical menu item but worth experimenting with. The eggplant involtini were good but the eggplant or tomato sauce was missing a little bit of seasoning to tie it in with the burrata. Some bites were just okay but others, filled with burrata, were great.
The salmon carpaccio was very fresh and thick cut, so you really tasted the flesh of the fish. Paired with a Campari dressing to give it a little lift, the herb salad was bright as well. There were also thin slices of red chilli which really added a punch of heat, which was different from the thinly sliced radishes.
The merluzzo salad was just like a dish that you would eat at Nonna’s house. A salad of cod, which was tender and flaky, was mixed with cannellini beans and a light dressing over a frisé salad. Nothing complicated, it was perfect in its simplicity. It was nice to see cod used in a cold salad, something that is often done in Italian households but rarely in restaurants. We loved it.
The salumi tasting was next and we love our charcuterie! We had the coppa and bresaola served on a wooden board with condiments. The coppa was thinly sliced, pink and delicious. The bresaola was dark red, meaty and paired well with the salad of sweet pear, salty Gorgonzola and beets. Sweet Pea was in pure bliss, she loves beets!
The octopus, with its white flesh with purple edges, was very thinly sliced and tender. Prepared soppressata style, it was a very unique way to serve octopus. It was paired with dollops of salsa verde and drizzles of extra virgin olive oil that brightened up the octopus and added freshness to the dish.
Fluffy, as we affectionately called him, also gave us two items that were not on the menu. The first was a generous serving of burrata, a Diva favourite. Although burrata appears on Nolana’s menu it is not prepared like this. For us it was topped simply with gremolata for freshness and chilli for a little pep, all working perfectly with the creamy cheese. The topping enhanced the cheese without masking it, the Divas love burrata!
The porchetta was delicious. Salty and tender, we were very tempted to lick the sauce off the plate but we kept it classy. Served very traditionally without any bells and whistles, we devoured the hunk of meat. Again, this was a nice surprise from the chef as it does not appear on the menu in this fashion. On the menu you can have the porchetta with salsa verde anda boston salad for 12$. The Divas love getting spoiled!
We love animals, we think they’re delicious! So when we saw the rabbit ravioli hit the table, we suddenly believed in love at first sight. The pasta was cooked al dente and filled with spinach and ricotta to cut the richness of the tender rabbit meat. The green olives are a classic pairing with rabbit and worked well with the porcini. The sauce was also delicious and worthy of scarpetta!
In between bottles of wine, the Artist was being filled in on the antics she missed since Halloween, when she was essentially enslaved to decorate Diva #1’s apartment for her Halloween party. She usually needs a few months off before seeing us after her enslavement for all of October. Safe to say some stories shocked her, others horrified and more than once, she looked genuinely confused.
Pizza is the main attraction at Nolana and we sampled two, the classic margherita and the spilinga. They came served on a wooden pizza board with big, cast iron scissors, that every Nonna has at home. Nolana won points on authenticity, and using scissors to cut the pizza made it ideal for sharing.
The Margherita was delicious. The tomato sauce was fresh, the cheese melted and the basil reminded us of summer! The crust is thin with char marks for added taste. And if you can get the simplest pizza right, you’re definitely on the right track.
The Spilinga had an interesting combination of ingredients that we couldn’t resist. The spicy nduja was mellowed by the creamy ricotta. There was plenty of sausage and again, the tomato sauce was fresh. They also gave us a jar of pepperoncini to add to the pizza for extra spice. It was so good we were ready to buy some on the spot!
We indulged in two desserts, the bombolone and a twist on the cannoli. The bombolone, were filled with either nutella or pastry cream, both of which were delicious. The sugary coating gave it a little more sweetness, but the dough was a little more dense than we would have liked. If that wasn’t enough? The bombolone came with shots of creamy milk flavoured with cinnamon. We can’t wait to compare these to our favourite Foodie Guy’s version when he opens San Gennaro, a bakery & café in Little Italy!
The cannoli was like an open-faced sandwich. Delicately thin, crispy shards of dough layered with rich cream filling and a candied orange jam. Perfection! After paying our bills, we lounged around chatting with Fluffy, who graciously opened up a box of chocolate croccante torrone. We were the last to leave the restaurant, happy with our night. The food was delicious, the staff on point and we are sure that Mtl Cuisine has a winner on their hands!
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: 444 McGill, Bombolone, Burrata, Cannoli, Cod Salad, Dessert, Eggplant Involtini, H2Y 2G5, Italian, Margherita Pizza, Merluzzo, Montreal Food, Montreal Pizza, Montreal Restaurant, MTL Cuisine, Nolana Montreal, Nolana Pizza Montreal, Octopus, Old Montreal, Old Montreal Restaurant, Old Port, Pasta, Pizza, Pizzeria, Porchetta, Rabbit, Reservations Needed, Salmon Carpaccio, Salumi, Sfizi, Spilinga Pizza, wine, Wine Bar