Throughout the years Diva #1 has met some interesting people, and the two young brothers that own Tartufo d’Oro fit perfectly into that category. In high school they were known for throwing the coolest (I will revert to the lingo of yester-year) parties. At 16 years old, there were few places that we could go chill, with cool parents who didn’t care if we drank or what we smoked. Their parents allowed us to be free, and we were there week after week, swimming in their pool, and even staying for dinner when the brothers were out. One of our friends eventually moved into their basement! They were some of the nicest people that Diva #1 has ever met, important in a disgruntled time in everyone’s teens when adults didn’t understand!
Though we lost touch over the years, Diva #1 still lives a few blocks away and talks to the guys from time to time. Fast forward from teen parties to 2013, imagine the surprise when P’tit Frère comes home to tell Sweet Pea and Diva #1 that our old friends opened a restaurant and it was amazing. P’tit Frère doesn’t get excited often and when he started gushing about the dessert, which he usually doesn’t even care for, Diva #1 knew that we had to make reservations sooner rather than later.
So the Divas, Sweet Pea and Vegan Vixen made reservations to go to Tartufo d’Oro on St-Laurent in Little Italy, a snazzy location for an up and coming Italian restaurant. We were very happy to see the whole family there, some in the kitchen and others on the floor, a true family-run restaurant which usually makes for the best Italian restaurants. The new Montreal restaurant scene is filled with celebrity chefs and the trendiest of restaurants. Having grown up in the restaurant industry with a dad who always owned a restaurant or two, Diva #1 truly appreciates the family run places. To add a twist, the head chef of Tartufo d’Oro worked at the Opus Hotel with Michele Forgione, now co-owner of Imapasto. At Tartufo d’Oro, you get the family run restaurant with a head chef who has worked with renowned Montreal chefs, the best of both worlds.
We started our meal with the Campofiorin, Masi, Veneto, a great dry red wine that rarely disappoints. When we were ready for bottle number two, we were recommended the Chianti Classico Rocca della Macie Riserva, Toscana. No regrets there, it was even more flavourful and full bodied than the Masi and left a beautiful richness in your mouth, perfect with hearty pasta dishes. The wine prices were more than reasonable and had we stayed a few minutes more, we are sure that we would have moved on to bottle number three. Besides wine, the menu boasts some interesting cocktails that we did not have a chance to try. An especially sounding delicious one is “La Fraise Pétillante” with gin, limoncello, San Pellegrino and a strawberry purée, something to return for.
Our first appetizer was the arancini, an Italian restaurant staple. Two balls of fried rice stuffed with sausage and smoked caciocavallo cheese made up this appetizer. Placed on top of a bed of traditional tomato sauce, the caciocavallo was a nice surprise and added a smoked element to the dish. Caciovallo cheese is a diva-favourite but is rarely seen on menus. Even Vegan Vixen who generally avoids sausage (when sober) tried the arancini and picked around the meat, especially when she heard us exclaim how delicious the arancini were.
Our second appetizer was the polpo affumicato, grappa-smoked octopus. The octopus was tender and the flavour could be described as fascinating, as it was such an original way of cooking octopus in comparison to the usual grilled manner. The octopus was served on top of a potato salad made up of pickled red onions, rosemary potatoes and a caperberry vinaigrette. Our only complaint about this appetizer was that the potato salad should have been room temperature, instead of cold, and it not only made the octopus cold rather quickly, but it did not allow the individual flavours of the potato salad to stand out.
Other delicious-sounding appetizers on the menu include the panko crusted pan seared heirloom tomatoes with smoked mozzarella, arugula and prosciutto. And the charcuterie and cheese plate which included duck vasetto and homemade focaccia. Definitely something that we will order next time.
We ordered four mains and in our usual fashion we shared everything. There was definitely a favourite of the night; baked cavatelli in a creamy cauliflower sauce with baby peas and shrimp served with grilled scallops on top. The pasta was al dente and not overcooked, which often happens with baked pastas and the creamy cauliflower sauce was an original concoction. It tasted creamy with hints of cauliflower. The shrimps were not as apparent as the scallops, or the Divas’ friends ate them all (bitches), but we really enjoyed this plate.
When the Divas see duck on the menu we order it immediately. The pappardelle ragu d’anitra was a papperdelle pasta dish made with a delicious tomato based duck ragu sauce topped with pan seared duck breast. As a rule we generally prefer our duck confit because duck can often be dry when pan seared but in this case, when coupled with the saucy pasta, the duck breast was very tasty. There was a generous amount of meat and each slice was pink inside, which is exactly how duck should be served. Though we still prefer duck confit-style, we were happy with this dish.
Another favourite of the night was the ravioli ortolani, sweet potato and carrot stuffed ravioli with an arugula pesto sauce and fresh ricotta. This was our second favourite dish of the night after the cavatelli al forno. The ravioli stuffing was creamy and oh so tasty and the sauce was light and savory. What really surprised us was the fresh taste of the ricotta. This cheese was chosen with precision and the large amount plopped on top of the dish was very satisfying. When the ricotta slightly melted from the warmth of the pasta, it made for a creamier arugula pesto sauce and we were soon dipping our bread into the sauce, long after the ravioli were gone
Our last main was the risotto boscaiola, risotto with oyster and king mushrooms, asparagus, dandelion and white truffle oil. Risotto and mushrooms go together like red wine and cheese, so the Divas were happy to see this dish on the menu. The asparagus and dandelion added a nice rustic flair to this classic dish, and you don’t usually see dandelions on a menu. This reminded Diva #1 of her grandmother boiling dandelions and serving them with olive oil and lemon in the summer months. This country flair to the dish made it nostalgic to the Mediterranean ladies, but then we would taste bursts of truffle oil, and the dish became edgy again.
Mains to return for include the Cornish hen with spicy Sicilian olives, served with herbed polenta and a mushroom medley. Diva #2 loves eating little birds; we aren’t sure how we missed this one! We ordered every dessert on the menu because we are delicate and thin like that, and loved them all. P’tit Frère had raved about the desserts so we were eager to try them all. The Crespelle was amazing, crêpes with a mascarpone and basil filling were topped with a strawberry coulis and white chocolate shavings. The strawberry coulis tasted like perfectly blended ripe Quebec strawberries with few adornments and fillers. The coulis was sweet and this was amazing when coupled with the tart mascarpone and basil filling. The plate was quickly polished.
We also ordered the gelato d’Oro which we loved so much that the chef brought us a second piece because he caught Diva #2 licking the plate clean. Layers of homemade Nutella and Amaretti cookie ice cream made up this gelato cake. The contrast was perfection and the gelato rich. Chocolate bark topped the cake but the gelato was so wonderful and delicious that the bark was abandoned in favour of more gelato. We were so full from our meal but it is a testament to the greatness of the dessert that we ate a second portion.
The third dessert was the L’Amerena, a rich cheesecake with Morello cherry filling, cherry compote and a caramel nest. The caramel nest was unnecessary because the Morello cherry filling and fluffy richness of the cheesecake was more than enough. Morello cherries are the best cherries to make or bake a dessert with, and we were quite happy to enjoy their tartness with the sweetness of the smooth cheesecake.
We left Tartufo d’Oro pleasantly full and content, we are eager to return and tell our friends about this new restaurant. It was wonderful seeing a new family run restaurant with such presence enter the Little Italy restaurant scene. We wish the brothers luck and if they keep cooking the way they have been doing, well they won’t need any luck to make it a success.
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: 6961 Saint Laurent, Antipasto, Arancini, Branzino, Caciocavallo, Charcuterie, Cheese, Cheesecake, Cocktails, Cornish hen, Crêpes, Duck, Duck Ragu, Duck Vasetto, Family Run, Gelato, Grappa, H2S 3E2, Homemade Focaccia, Italian, Little Italy, Montreal, Montreal Restaurant, Morello Cherry, Mushrooms, Nutella, Octopus, Ravioli, Ricotta, Risotto, Ristorante, Rosemont-Petite Patrie, Scallops, Shrimp, Splendid, St-Laurent, Sweet Potato Ravioli, Szubiak, Tartufo d'Oro Little Italy, Tartufo d'Oro Montreal, Tartufo d'Oro St-Laurent, Tartufo d'Oro Szubiak, Tartufo D’Oro, wine