Montreal’s pizza scene

Mathieu Fortin
May 03, 2019
By Mathieu Fortin
Montreal, renowned for its creativity and cultural diversity, is now home to a growing number of pizzerias for all tastes.

To the delight of many, neo-Neapolitan style pizzerias have grown in number and become a huge craze in the city. Let’s have a closer look at a few different styles of pizza available along with restaurants that have made their mark.

GOURMET-STYLE EXAMINED
Montreal’s gourmet-style pizza is a hybrid between a Neapolitan pizza and a family pizza. Chefs often see this as a gastronomic dish and are eager to make it as attractive and tempting as possible. Let’s see what Paolo Oliveira, owner and operator of Pizzeria Melrose, and Frédéric St-Aubin, co-owner and chef at Moleskine, have to say.


Pizzeria Melrose  
Owner/operator: Paolo Oliveira
Opened: 2015 and second location 2019
Number of employees: 25

Q: What is your background in the art of making pizza?
To be honest, it is quite recent. I did martial arts for 15 years and ran several marathons. I founded Café Méliès on Saint-Laurent Boulevard. I ran several other companies also, but for the past few years, I developed great “buzz” for pizza. I decided to open Melrose, a pizzeria with an artistic touch.

Q: What type of pizza do you make?
Gourmet pizza and Roman-style crust.

Q: What type of experience do you want to offer your customers at Melrose?
I want it to be a family-style resto accessible to everyone. I also emphasize local and fresh ingredients.

Q: Where I can see you eating a pizza in Montreal?
Stella Pizzeria.

Q: What is your favourite pizza topping?
Rapini and aged cheddar.


Moleskine
Chef and pizzaiolo: Frédéric St-Aubin  
Owners: Catherine Bélanger, Bruno Braën and Frédéric St-Aubin
Opened: 2016
Number of employees: 15

Q: What is your background in pizza?
I travelled the world and worked all over Europe, to learn and taste a lot of things, including pizzas. During my scholarship at ITHQ [Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec], I discovered how to make pizza in my Italian cooking courses and now it’s becoming part of my job at Moleskine.

Q: What type of experience do you want to offer your customers at Moleskine?
A very casual experience downstairs at the bar and more cozy and quiet upstairs. We have the best of both worlds.

Q: What’s the key to creating or making great pizza?
Matching the flavours, trying new ingredients and creating new taste on a pie.

Q: What is your favourite pizza topping?
Mushrooms.

Q: Where can I see you eating pizza in Montreal?
Magpie or Bottega.



FROM NAPLES TO MONTREAL

The neo-Neapolitan pizza made its debut and its popularity only grows. Here are two natives of Naples, Italy, who try to preserve the authenticity of the Margherita, which in 2018 was designated part of the art of Neapolitan pizza-making as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity under UNESCO.


Kesté
Chef/pizzaiolo: Gianluca Esposito
Owners: Saverio Pileggi, Gianluca Esposito
Opened: 2015
Number of employees: 11

Q: Where are you from?
Naples.

Q: What is your background in the pizza industry?
When I was 14 years old, my cousin Gino Sorbillo, a world-renowned pizzaiolo, showed me the art of making pizza. Years ago, I began experimenting with the science behind making pizza. I love experimenting with different flours and working with authentic ingredients. Also, it is very important to understand how to work the oven.

Q: How did your cousin influence you?
Gino showed me the real meaning of pizza. He also taught me the story of where it comes from. Dating to 300 years ago, there is a big story behind the authentic Neapolitan pizza. For most Neapolitans, pizza is so much more than just putting dough, sauce and toppings together. It is a national treasure that we are proud of.

Q: Do you help new pizzerias?
Yes! I was very proud of developing the menu at Nolana a few years ago and now I offer my services to Trattoria Alessa in Magog, Que. I have lots of new and exciting plans for 2019.

Q: What is your favourite pizza topping?
I am a lover of eggplant. I also love ricotta, mozzarella and chili peppers.

Q: Where can I see you eating a pizza?
Bottega for the authenticity and Industria Pizzeria + Bar in Laval.


Enrico’s Bistro 
Owners: Ugo Di Nunzio (pizzaiolo), Enrico Perugini
Opened: 2012
Number of employees: 8

Q: Ugo, where are you from?
I was born in Naples, raised in Campobasso.

Q: Where does your passion for pizza come from?
My grandmother owned a pizzeria in Naples.

Q: Where can I find you eating a pizza in Montreal?
Pizzeria Liolà.

Q: What does Neapolitan pizza mean to you?
It must be simple. Also, the dough is very important.

Q: What is your favourite pizza topping?
Tomato sauce, basil and mozzarella.

‘AL TAGLIO’ STYLE COMEBACK
Finally the Roman-style pizza, also known as pizza al taglio – which in Italian means pizza by the slice – has made its debut in Montreal. This style of pizza, the most popular in Italy, will definitely continue to grow in popularity in the years to come. I had the privilege of sitting down with Michèle Casale, owner of Redi Pizza, who continues to impress with his creativity and passion for Roman-style pizza. Casale is also known for his ability to make one of the best doughs in town using his leavening skills.


Redi Pizza
Owner/operator/pizzaiolo: Michèle Casale
Opened: 2016
Number of employees: 4

Q: What is pizza al taglio?  
It’s a typical Roman pizza that must have three characteristics: very light pizza thanks to the slow process of lievitation [leavening], crispy and full of air bubbles.

Q: How many pizzerias are making this style of pizza in Montreal?
That I know of, Taglio di Roma, Ricolta and Redi Pizza.

Q: Why do you think this style of pizza is gaining popularity?
Obviously because it is new in our market. It has existed in Rome since the 1990s and it has continued to progress thanks to new processes and longer lievitation times. We can perfect the technique using the best flours available and it is also a healthier version than the typical pizza dough. In Montreal, many are used to eating heavier pizza doughs but since they have discovered these lighter alternatives people are loving it and making changes.

Q: Who are your favourite pizzaiolos?
Renato Bosco and Gabriele Bonci.

For more information about Montreal Pizza Fest, a friendly competition that sees pizza lovers in Montreal vote for their favourite pies, connect with Mathieu Fortin via @pizzafestmtl on Facebook and Instagram.

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