We aren’t romantics but when we love, we love ferociously! We reviewed Bottega in Little Italy in 2013, and Hostaria at around the same time. Unbeknownst to us, the Covone family owned and operated these two treasures in Little Italy, serving some of the best Italian food in Montreal. Now, in April 2015, fratelli Covone and cugino Mauro opened San Gennaro, an Italian bakery, café and pizza al taglio next door to Bottega Pizzeria Neapolitan, in Little Italy.
When we reviewed Bottega and Hostaria in 2013, the name Covone didn’t mean anything to us. We were simply recommended these two restaurants by friends and we absolutely adored them. Somewhere along the way we met Mauro Covone, and we soon learned that these two different and delicious restaurants were a family run operation that transcended generations. The Divas are suckers for a good story and the Covones are the perfect example of what hard work, a love of food and dedication can create.
If you’ve been to Bottega you know that their famous red tiled wood burning pizza oven boasts the seal of authenticity from the Verace Pizza Napolitana Artigianale (VPNA). But what does pizza al taglio mean? Pizza al taglio, translated to mean pizza by the slice, originated in Rome and is traditionally baked on rectangular cookie sheets. It is sold by weight in Italy, or by slice in Montreal. Its real benefit is that it can be served both hot or cold, making it the perfect pizza to take to go.
We have already been to San Gennaro three times; we just can’t seem to get enough of this place! At one particular visit the Divas and Peaches arrived on our lunch break and ordered a square of every pizza that was available that day. We can eat a lot for three girls, and they even cut the slices for us since we were sharing everything!
Served on wooden cutting board, with red and white checkered paper, the presentation was lovely, but the taste of the pizza is what blew us away. Of course the true test was when we tried their simple margherita pizza with its San Marzano tomato sauce, basil and cheese. It was mouth-watering! For an additional treat you can have the margherita pizza with prosciutto, it was divine and heavy on the prosciutto!
Our favourite pizza has to be the stilton blue cheese, endive, caramelized onion and mint pizza which was refreshing and perfect for cheese lovers like ourselves. A very interesting pizza was the Victoria smoked salmon pizza with the lightest ricotta and gourmet capers on top. Smoked salmon is a nice Canadian addition to a very Roman pizza!
We really wanted to try everything so we also had their mushroom pizza with rosemary and cheese on a bed of that perfect tomato sauce, a potato pizza with taleggio cheese which was very unique, and a mortadella and basil pesto pizza that tasted like a gourmet Italian panini.
The porchetta pizza was stuffed with arugula and made into a pizza sandwich. Two pieces of dough hugged the most delicious porchetta and arugula into a panini like pizza that was delicious. We haven’t tasted porchetta like this since we were last in Italy. Prepared in house, the porchetta was perfection, and we loved this cross between pizza and panini.
Although pizza al taglio is their speciality, San Gennaro will soon have fresh salads, perfect for the lunch crowd. We were lucky enough to grab a few of their bite size arancini, stuffed with risotto, peas and ground veal. They were the perfect appetizer before enjoying our many slices of pizza. Although not a typical sit down restaurant, you can certainly enjoy a whole meal with dessert and coffee at San Gennaro, as long as you’re lucky enough to grab one of their few seats! But fret not, in the summer months they will be sharing Bottega‘s 50 seat terrace, and they’ll be serving gelato.
On our first visit a bowl of cannoli shells intrigued us, the sign promising that the cannolis were stuffed the minute they were ordered ensuring freshness and the crispiest of cannoli shells. A soggy cannoli is a punishment indeed! The cannolis were exquisite, stuffed with a ricotta cream, chocolate chips and orange and we promise you that you haven’t tried cannolis like this. And if you have, they were from Bottega next door 😉
We couldn’t say no to San Gennaro’s biscotti, amaretti cookies and brutti ma buoni cookies either! Actually we were hard pressed to say no to anything from San Gennaro. Amaretti cookies are the typical Italian amaretto cookie with that hint of almond liquor. Brutti ma buoni is translated to mean good but ugly – these cookies are similar to meringue cookies but with nuts folded in. And their biscotti are the perfect accompaniment to a San Gennaro espresso!
Our favourite desserts were the sfogliatelle and the bombolone doughnuts. Sfogliatelle,a traditional pastry from the Campania region, is a thin leafy pastry filled with Italian ricotta pastry cream. There are variations to this dessert, but San Gennaro’s pastry is absolutely heavenly.
A bombolone is an Italian doughnut that is stuffed with either pastry cream or nutella. The Divas opted for San Gennaro’s pastry cream bombolone, but we assure you that we will back to try their chocolate variation, as the pastry cream bombolone was absolute perfection.
An Italian bakery is all about the coffee too, made from their gorgeous Faema espresso machine and delicious Sapori Canada coffee. Staying true to Italian cafés, San Gennaro offers you a glass of flat or sparkling water with your espresso. And if you like their water that’s filtered and even carbonated in house, buy a large San Gennaro glass bottle for only 12$, and you can come back for a free refill whenever you want. This is both eco friendly and fun – which is exactly our style!
Of course like all good Italian bakeries there is a section for Italian delicacies like various pastas, canned San Marzano tomatoes, coffees, various preserves and other treats. There were some interesting olive oils but San Gennaro took it to the next level by offering an extra virgin olive oil tasting with three different olive oils and a sliced baguette so that you can sample the oil before buying it.
And if San Gennaro wasn’t already a one stop shop for Italian delicacies they also sell Jus Pur. This Montreal based juice shop has the freshest cold pressed juices perfect for those looking to cleanse or just for a refreshing balanced snack when you’re too rushed to eat all of your fruits and veggies. We adored Jus Pur before San Gennaro started carrying them and we love that they sell them on site.
Though they have only been open for a week, the Divas have already been to San Gennaro multiple times, and we’ll be returning to try their gelato! That alone demonstrates our love of this Italian bakery, café and pizza al taglio spot. The Covone’s passion is evident in every bite of pizza, every sip of coffee, and you’ll feel it when you walk into San Gennaro. But don’t take our word for it, the place speaks for itself.
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
Tagged: 69 St-Zotique, Arancini, Bombolone, Bottega, Bottege Montreal, Café, Dolci, Fabrizio Covone, Gelato, H2S 1K7, Italian Bakery, Italian Dessert, Italian Pastry, Jus Pur, Little Italy, Massimo Covone, Mauro Covone, Montreal Bakery, Montreal Café, Montreal Food, Montreal italian, Montreal Italian Bakery, Montreal Pizza, Montreal Restaurant, Pizza, Pizza al taglio, Roman Pizza, Saint Édouard, San Gennaro, San Gennaro Bakery, San Gennaro Montreal, San Gennaro Pizza, San Gennaro Pizza Al Taglio, Sfogliatelle, St-Zotique, terrace