Happy Anniversary! That’s how our night started at Geppetto’s Pizzeria located on Notre-Dame West, neighbouring the Atwater Market. In traditional Diva fashion, we had a shot (a few shots) to toast our one year anniversary. Sitting in almost the same leather banquette as a year ago, the Divas, Bellatrix and Zeus, ate, drank and reminisced about the past year; unexpected friendships, laughs, arguments and all around good times! The only suspect missing from our anniversary dinner was Calvin. The Divas are waiting for their fruit basket as an apology. In November 2011, a group of us went out after a long day of work, some of us were friends, other relative strangers (even enemies) but we brought a new meaning to the traditional 5 à 7….mainly because it was more of a 8 à 12. Bellatrix recommended Geppetto’s Pizzeria because it was trendy, served great pizza and hey, it is advertised as a wine bar, what more can the Divas ask for? Back then we were not Divas, Bellatrix or Zeus, just a bunch of co-workers going out on Thursdays, not expecting the culinary adventure that we were going to embark upon.
Geppetto’s is small and unassuming. The chalkboard menu lists the specials of the day; picture frames and vintage mirrors decorate the walls and take you on a journey to the past. The lighting is low and the red brick wood burning oven is visible behind the bar. Pinocchios of every size decorate the restaurant, an ode to the fabled Geppetto, and our waitress informed us that one of them was given to the owners by his patrons. Diva #1 has always loved Pinnocchios since Sweet Pea brought her Piccolo Pinocchio back from Italy… sadly we were not allowed to take one home from Geppetto’s, and trust us we tried.
Zeus has affectionately named shots after all of us, and we in turn have named one after him. We started our night with some Vengenful Bs (B is for Bellatrix) which the waitress happily mixed for us. Zeus’ concoction includes rum, triple sec, lemon, lime and pineapple. We then opened up the unpretentious paper menu and noticed two things: menu items had changed since our last visit in November 2011 and unfortunately, there were several spelling mistakes on the menu (i.e. salmond, mapple …). Diva #2 has absolutely no patience for spelling errors! Diva #1 was too distracted by the Piccolo Pinocchios surrounding her and the adorable logo of a drunken Pinocchio clutching a glass of wine.
We ordered red wine, although we cannot remember which one because we were happily enjoying our anniversary and we temporarily forgot that we were reviewing the restaurant. The bread arrived, served with the traditional Italian extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, and we ate away happily. Our hunger got the best of us and we were soon ordering as many appetizers as we could. We started with a warm bruschetta with goat cheese, grilled vegetables and pesto. Diva #1 distinctly remembers a similar bruschetta on their old menu but it boasted an assortment of mushrooms and goat cheese. Though it is too bad that it was replaced, this bruschetta was delicious, the bell peppers were flavourful, the goat cheese was creamy and the marinated olives topping the bruschetta simply added to the dish. Unfortunately the pesto did not come through but the appetizer was lovely nonetheless. Hopefully Bellatrix does not realize that we told her that the cheese was mascarpone… she hates goat cheese but the Divas love it too much to ignore an appetizer that has it. Sorry Bellatrix!
The Divas then ordered the snails of the day which on this particular night were tossed in a warm tomato, onion, spinach and red pepper bruschetta-like sauce. The taste of the snails was enhanced by the sauce, as opposed to hidden. The portion was fair, the sauce delicious and we were soon dipping our bread into the sauce. Unfortunately, there were not enough grilled baguette crisps served with this appetizer.
We wanted to enjoy a third appetizer but could not choose. Our waitress recommended the grilled octopus served with hummus. The unique appetizer also had full chickpeas in it, and it was a new spin to the traditional grilled octopus. The portion was larger than expected and the hummus, perhaps homemade, was delicious!
At this point Bellatrix’s mate arrived and ordered an appetizer that Diva #1 had had her eye on. The homemade smoked salmon bruschetta arrived at the table and immediately you smelled the fresh lemony salmon. It was fresh tasting, the taste of fennel came through and the mascarpone was the perfect substitute to the traditional cream cheese. The fried capers did not seem fried at all; this unique addition did not stand out. But you have to love a place that has homemade smoked salmon; they even top a pizza with it. We are definitely trying the smoked salmon pizza on our next visit.
Since we were at a pizzeria, it seems that the Divas should start talking about the pizzas. A thin crust, a flavourful but light tomato sauce that does not take away from the additional ingredients and fresh mozzarella are the staples of this Italian pizza. Pizzeria Geppetto passed on all of these fronts! Diva #1 ordered the Mazzarina which was recommended by both the waitress and Bellatrix. Diva #1 was originally interested in the Funghi Pizza which used to be topped with mixed mushrooms. Unfortunately, the waitress warned us that this was no longer the case and the pizza was only topped with button mushrooms…the Divas consider button mushrooms fillers in a sea of oyster mushrooms, portobellos, porcini, cremini, chanterelle, etc. The Mazzarina was covered in stewed tomatoes, fresh basil and layers of prosciutto. The prosciutto was not too salty, and the creamy ricotta was plentiful – surprisingly so. The arugula added a peppery bite, especially after the waitress brought over the traditional Italian chili olive oil infusion to add to this delightful pizza.
Diva #2 and Zeus both ordered the Rustique pizza. Diva #2 swears by caccio cavalo and was very excited to see this original Italian cheese on a pizza, so much better than the typical mozzarella. Kalamato olives were a great addition to the pizza, as well as the roasted peppers and Italian sausage. Diva #1 rarely enjoys sausage on her pizza but Geppetto’s sausage was amazing and not greasy at all. Our only complaint with this pizza was that there were not nearly enough artichokes.
Bellatrix is often affectionately called “meatball” because she always orders the meatball dishes on a menu. Diva #1 always teases her about this obsession but for once Bellatrix had chosen the right meatball. The parpadelle pasta was served in a tomato sauce with rapini and some of the most delicious meatballs that we had ever tasted. They were large, soft and flavourful, and definitely homemade. The only issue was that some of the parpadelle was undercooked; the Divas are all for al dente but some of the pasta was crunchy. Fortunately the pasta was so tasty that this little point of contention was irrelevant.
Bellatrix’s mate is from Italy and had been to Geppetto’s before, therefore, he walked in knowing what he wanted. He asked about his favourite pizza, it was simple, basically a pizza Marguerita with a flair. It consisted of tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and meatball slices. The waitress told us that it was taken off the menu but that the kitchen could accommodate him because all the ingredients were used in various dishes and could easily be combined to create this pizza. His pizza was lovely and the fresh meatballs were a great addition.
The Divas and their assorted gang were pleasantly stuffed but tradition dictates that dessert must be ordered. Of course one is never enough, two desserts are preferred, but three is necessary to satisfy our internal gluttons. Our Quebecoise roots dictate that when pudding chômeur is on a menu, it must soon be on our table. This chômeur was topped with a vanilla ice cream, and at the bottom of the vanilla cake lay stewed apples that were almost cooked to the point of becoming a homemade apple sauce. The apple pudding chômeur was lovely and thus we ordered a second one. Our second dessert was a crème brulée served with blueberries. The crème brulée had a perfect hard sugar crust and the custard was creamy, and could rival any French fare.
The last dessert that we ordered was the dark chocolate tourte, it was rich, dense, and its consistency was similar to fudge. The dark chocolate was of a high calibre and it was a tasty dessert covered in powdered sugar. All three desserts were decorated with ground cherries which was lovely and added to the beauty of the dishes.
Pizzeria Geppetto is a lovely alternative if you do not want to go all the way to Little Italy for traditional thin crust Italian pizza. They even have a small terrace that is open in the summer and must be beautiful on Notre Dame Street. We were the last to leave the restaurant, but the waiters were more than accommodating. The Divas, Bellatrix, her mate and Zeus walked out satisfied with their meal and their night. Together we have shared nights where we drank far too much, evenings where we laughed to the point of tears and definitely days where we have extensively plotted together. We look forward to another eventful year together and we’ll be back to Pizzeria Geppetto next year to toast again…hopefully with Calvin this time! The Montreal Food Divas would not exist without their Thursday night dinners and their lovely co-conspirators.
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: Bruschetta, Divas Anniversary, Downtown, Fresh Mozzarella, Geppetto, Homemade Smoked Salmon, Italian, Little Burgundy, Marché Atwater, Meatball, Montreal, Notre-Dame, Pasta, Piccolo, Pinocchio, Pizza, Pizzeria, Pizzeria Geppetto, Splendid, terrace, Thin Crust, Wine Bar, Wood Burning Oven