Annex 73: Prato | Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search

3891 Saint-Laurent
Montreal, Quebec

Metro:  Sherbrooke, Saint-Laurent
Bus:  STM 29, 55, 144

Visit:  June 27, 2012

It’s been a while since I had some pizza, save the slice or two I weaseled my way into getting from a elementary school classroom last week.  So, with that being said, I was hoping to get another shot at big time pizza in a sit-down restaurant.  The thing about it was I wasn’t expecting to be eating pizza on another rainy afternoon.  With that being said, a spirited conversation about restaurants turned into an impromptu visit to Prato.

It was a day like any other, with a bunch of teacher sitting around with basically nothing better to do than talk about our favorite restaurants in Montreal.  Names were being dropped like an avid thrill-seeker going bungee jumping.  So, the direction of the conversation came towards pizza and where to get it.  That’s where the name Prato came up.  After some vicarious Googling, we managed to find out where it was.  I thought that was the end of it, since we decided to go in the future.  At that point, I got up and headed out to take the bus home, or so I thought.

So, I’m walking towards the bus shelter with another teacher when I hear my name being yelled out loud like I did something wrong.  Did I leave too early?  Did I forget to do something?  No, it was none other than my eating compatriot Steakman trying to stop me because he got a brilliant idea.  Our epic conversation in the staffroom made him hungry and he was wondering if I was up to go to Prato.  At that moment, there was no need to ask me twice, I was game.

Prato is located on a very well-known stretch of Boulevard Saint-Laurent.  Schwartz’s, Coco Rico, The Main, and Moishes are just a few of the big time names you can find within a stone’s throw of Prato.  It was raining and you should have seen the line-up outside the fabled soon-to-be Nickels headquarters.  Sorry, I only kid about that.  The rain wasn’t enough to keep the hungry Montrealers from coming out, especially with a big sporting event going on, which had nothing to do with ice and round rubber objects.

When you come into the restaurant, you immediately notice two things.  The first thing that hits you like a ton of bricks is the smell.  From the smell alone, Steakman got his hopes up.  The second thing you notice is that they make their pizzas in plain sight of the customers, something that I always like seeing.  It wasn’t too busy since it was past the lunch rush, a point that I have to emphasize before getting to the rest of the story.

I often wonder how the different parts of the day should be considered when thinking about the results from a restaurant.  We had this conversation in the car on the way back and we felt that no matter what time it is, you should have quality service.  Other people may differ with that, but if you’re open, you should be ready to make the customer happy.  A happy customer is one that comes back and one that spreads the word.

With that being said, we were here close to 2 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, sitting in a cafe and eating coal fired brick oven pizza.  Steakman is very cautious when it comes to cafes serving food.  I, on the other hand, don’t really mind, as long as you’re getting quality stuff.

The variety of pizzas you’re getting at Prato is quite vast.  Each and every individual pizza is unique.  Even though you have the simple pizzas, you also have some that are out of the box, so to speak.  Now, if you had a good look at the menu, you’d probably think that I would go for the Bianca pizza.  It was actually the only pizza on the menu that came with bacon.  It was the fresh cream sauce that didn’t sit well with me.  I wasn’t about to go with a different type of sauce when it’s been months since I had a real pizza.  However, if I was doing Mr. Lew’s Great Pizza Search, I’d definitely go for it.

The thing I did like about the menu was the extras option.  This is when my mind got to work and my optimism really turned up.  It was quite simple to take a simple pizza option and add whatever you wanted to it.  You’ll see that’s the route I went.  Prato is a step above in this category because other places don’t really give you that option.  Remember, giving customers options and flexibility sometimes is another way of making them happy.

Pizza Tous Garnis

This pizza normally contains mozzarella, mushrooms, peppers, and pepperoni.

I’m not going to say much about Steakman’s pizza because most of our comments overlap, even if the pizzas are different.  When it comes to pizza, he’s cut and dry.  If you don’t make him happy, you lose and you don’t get any redeeming points.  Even if there are some drawbacks, and there are, I’m going to take a more sympathetic spin to it.  I hate having to come out and say that, but I’m torn on whether or not I really like this pizza.

Pizza Mozzarella Plus

This pizza normally contains extra mozzarella over a tomato sauce.  My sole modification was to add my go-to favorite meat, bacon.  I find that a lot of restaurants don’t take advantage of having a bacon-cheese pizza.  There’s always something in the way.  I know some people think that bacon on a pizza is a crime, but it’s my guilty pleasure.

Before we get to the pizza, I have to mention the rather unique serving mechanism used to present the food.  I don’t think I ever had a tray like this served to me.  I know people who would not be please with this casual way of serving.  But for me, I’m always looking for something out of the ordinary to write home about.  There was another group of 4 men who came in after us.  They ordered 3 pizzas and asked for plates.  It’s a little cumbersome because it does take a lot of place, but that’s nothing to complain about.

The first thing you notice about the actual pizza is the fact that it is rather thin.  There’s no problem in the thinness, if you like that kind of thing.  The thing is that there is one inherent problem that you can have and that’s over-burning the crust, which did happen.  It’s not a big problem if it’s not the entire pizza and just some places, but it changes the taste of the crust.  For some, the crust might not be big time, but for others, it’s the perfect cap-off to a good pizza.

The next thing that was an issue was distribution.  That was a problem on two fronts, sauce and cheese.  I don’t think there was any in the taste of either, but not having enough of it lessens you enjoyment.  My sauce was spread enough, but the other pizza wasn’t quite as well covered.  The thing that my pizza lacked was cheese all over the place.  It may or may not on purpose, but when it comes to personal taste, those two things have to be abundant.

I’ll be honest and this might ruin any credibility I have in the world of pizza, but I solely judge my slice on how the chosen meat is featured.  In the last 25+ years of having pizza, I have been presented with many different ways of having bacon.  I have seen everything from cubed bacon to long, nearly raw slices of the cured meat.  It’s when the bacon is sliced into small rectangles where you get it at it’s very best and most efficient.  I’m almost never burned when I get bacon pizza like that.  If there’s one big kudos that I’ll give Prato is the fact that they were generous with the bacon and they prepared it just the way I like it.  For me, it’s enough to warrant a second visit because it’s rare to see in other pizza places.

Final Verdict

I can’t hide what happened, nor will I change what I thought of what happened.  The taste of a pizza is subjective and differs from so many individuals.  I actually did some research after getting home from Prato and the feedback was mostly good.  Perhaps we caught them on an off-day, which brings back the time-of-day debate again.  Much like burgers, I’m never always right and I do hope that I am wrong here.  There’s a lot of positive things for me to say about bacon pizza when the main star is presented so well.

In retrospect, I urge you to try Prato so that you can form your own opinion about the pizza served to you.  If you like thin crust pizza, you should really relish this opportunity.  If you don’t think bacon on a pizza is a crime, you should like the way it’s presented over here.  All the components are in place and it goes well for its reputation.  From location, aroma, and variety, it’s all a step in the right direction.

Prato Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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