Metro: Place d’Armes, Champ-de-Mars
Bus: STM 14, 55, 129, 715
Visit: January 25, 2013
Happening Gourmand 2013 gives a chance for every Montrealer set foot in restaurants that they would not normally be able to afford. One of the newcomers in this year’s line-up is a place that people are talking about, Bevo Pizza. Their take on Italian cuisine and pizza is surely something that could no longer be ignored.
Last May, Bevo Pizza opened its door in the Old Montreal section of this famous city. With a menu comprised of a large selection of pizza and pasta, there is a lot to choose from. It’s immediate insurgence onto the Old Montreal eating scene, which is already crowded, is one that can either be hit or miss. Then again, for an eating optimist, it is something that all can enjoy.
My first visit to Bevo Pizza was something that I’ve been anticipating for months. It was the perfect opportunity to reunite with some of my beloved colleagues, all the while getting to try things from the Happening Gourmand menu that looked too good to pass up. With the upcoming pleasures in mind, I made the reservations, thinking it would be as simple as that.
A few days before my Bevo Pizza arrival, their polite staff called me at home to ensure my reservation was good and to inform me that the table would be needed 2 hours later. That wouldn’t cause an issue so much, as they also kindly allowed me to add another chair to my table. This need for an extra chair was mainly due to GBS regular, Steakman’s invitation of another individual. Since there was enough notice, there wasn’t much of an issue.
The night of the visit came at the tail end of the coldest week in years. I’m pretty sure that most of us wanted it to end really quickly and what better way to do that than by eating highly anticipated food. It was just hours before our reservation that Steakman calls me once again to check on the time of the reservation. This is where he decided to drop the proverbial bomb on me. He made sure to mention that 2 more people wanted to come. I, just the night before, had to turn down one of my closer acquaintances because it was one change too many. I understand how a restaurant might be a tad bit perturbed by one too many changes.
On the night of the reservation, I accompanied another ex-colleague, LabTech, as we walked into the restaurant. I knew, for a fact, that I wouldn’t have much luck trying to change the reservation from 4 to 6 people. So, as I entered the restaurant, after quickly inquiring about whether a change was possible and being turned down, I figured we settle at our table. The host made sure to tell us that it would get packed 10 minutes later. At this point, I knew that Steakman wouldn’t let that be.
After exchanging a few calls with Steakman, since he was a little behind, I just let him do what he was going to do. Also, I had nothing left to say and I didn’t want to make things worse. So, LabTech and I sat down, watching Steakman interact with the host. It wasn’t pleasant and this is where I wanted to find a hole to crawl into.
We were ready to sit down at our table of 4, thinking that all was for nothing. Steakman was complaining, citing the fact that the restaurant was still quite empty. This is the point where I noticed the host leading some servers around, rearranging the tables. This host didn’t look very pleased and there was a clear amount of stress visible. I hate making the following reference, but I can make this seem like a child pouting. I don’t know what happened between Steakman and this individual, nor do I know what else happened. I was embarrassed as I took my glass of water across the upper level to a table with six seats.
What’s worse is that the 2 extra individuals that stumbled onto my reservation never showed up. For the fear of retribution from the staff, I had to tell Steakman to keep the latest change quiet. I’m going to get flak for this, but it seems like I can’t avoid any other Happening Gourmand controversies.
I want to say that the rest of the evening went downhill from this point, but that was the furthest from the truth. I do, however, feel sorry for the first server assigned to us. It was completely unfair to that server, being deprived of a tip. But, we had to move along and had to make the best of the rest of the evening.
Bevo Pizza is a really nice looking place. The second you enter, you’ll notice the multi-level restaurant, one that I haven’t seen much of in this city. We were given a table on the highest level, right after a spiral-like staircase. It’s a very classy atmosphere, definitely a place that you want to be seen eating in.
It being Happening Gourmand, the restaurant wasn’t quite full when we got there, but it was busier as we left. For those wondering, I didn’t really see a need for the table we vacated. In my opinion, telling people that the restaurant will be full in 10 minutes is a tad bit misleading and not very customer friendly. I know our pushiness may be at fault here, but don’t try to mislead us either.
Once the uncomfortable part of the evening was behind us (or mostly me, because I over-think things like this for years), we just started becoming impressed by everything we saw. For one, the second server assigned to us was incredible. This person answered all of our questions and went out of their way to make sure everything was right. Even after what was done, everything went smoothly until we left. Even when it was time to nudge us off the table, it was done in the most polite of ways. I never shook the hand of a server until this evening.
It’s also very interesting to share eating experiences with Steakman, who happens to be Greek, because he seems to attract other fellow Greeks just like that. Within moments of us getting settled, another Greek server was interacting at our table and giving us some Happening Gourmand tips. It shows the caliber of people hired to take on this vital role at the restaurant.
Poutine Di Vitello Brasato
This is a poutine topped with braised veal. With a certain theme week coming up in Montreal, there was no way any of us could go any further without trying a poutine. I made it a point of inquiring what Bevo’s offering would be and it sounds quite good. For the purpose of this evening, even though I was going all-in when it came to Happening Gourmand, I split the poutine with Steakman.
Having had a similar poutine a while back, this one is just on the same level and perhaps even better than the one I had previously. The combination of braised veal with their sauce is quite good. The meat, which doesn’t normally find itself on a poutine, fit right in. I didn’t eat as much as I wanted, but what I did get was quite nice.
Bean Soup with Pork Hocks
This is what LabTech and I chose for our opening course at Bevo Pizza. Normally, soups are not that appealing to me, but it was the lesser of all evils, so to say.
The soup was really nice and the pieces of pork hock were nicely distributed throughout. My only discomfort was the shape of the bowl. Trying to scoop up soup without looking like a fool is not something my burger eating hands are used to. Then again, taking a cue from my fellow soup partner, I had to pick up the bowl and go about it that way.
Pizza Cotto E Bocconcini
This was Steakman’s pizza. The pizza also contains mushrooms, prosciutto, mozzarella, bocconcini, and a tomato sauce.
This was LabTech’s pizza. This is a white pizza with a bocconcini salad.
I had the opportunity to have a piece of this pizza since LabTech was too full from her experience here. I was toying with ordering this, but I found something worth more to me. What this piece of pizza reminded me of was lahmajoun, which also happens to be known as Armenian pizza. The dough, when by itself, has that kind of cheesy aspect that certain lahmajoun has. That piece hit close to home and I really enjoyed it.
Linguini with Giant Tiger Shrimp
I was going back and forth on whether I wanted to spring for the linguini. I’m not really a big fan of pasta. As a matter of fact, I have never ordered pasta from a restaurant before. The selling point, outside the 7 extra dollars, were the giant tiger shrimp. Having just searched for pictures of giant tiger shrimp, these were unlike any shrimp I ever had or seen in the past. The only thing that worried me a bit was the spicy tomato sauce.
It’s quite funny, since I’m not used to ordering pasta at restaurants, I was amazed by the whole addition of pepper and cheese process. When it came time for the cheese, I just let the server sprinkle away without really stopping it. This is where my group gave me the look. At this point, I figured it was too much and had to stop the flow of cheese.
When having such dishes, the thing that turns me off really fast is the consistency of the pasta itself. I’ve had a few bad batches of really tough pasta in my childhood and that made me give up on the whole genre all together. It was a pleasant surprise to see how well the pieces of long linguini went down so easily. With that being a non-issue, there were other things to focus on.
The next thing that may become a hindrance is the unavoidable heat that comes from the tomato sauce. Don’t get me wrong, the tomato sauce compliments the linguini well, but if you’re not into the spice, you may not get that far into finishing it. To make sure that I got through the whole thing, I had copious amounts of water readily drenching my throat to make sure I could solider on. Even if it was a tad bit too hot for my personal taste, each bite was worth every single ounce of discomfort, believe me.
This brings me up to the more impressive part of the pasta. The giant tiger shrimp, alone, sold me on the fact that I needed to order this dish. The sheer size of the shrimp pieces, that may be hidden by the sauce in the picture, made my jaw drop. I know there were only three, but they were three awesome pieces of shrimp. I would order that by themselves, drenched in that sauce, no matter how spicy it would be.
This was LabTech’s dessert. This was met with a great deal of satisfaction, making me want to try one all the more.
Tartino Al Cioccolato
This was Steakman’s dessert. Sitting across from it, I have to admit that I may have been a tad bit jealous. One of the questions that was asked was about the contents of the inner liquid-like chocolate. I just figured it was chocolate fondant inside, which is consistent with a molten lava cake. Either way, this cake was met with a large amount of approval.
Chocolate Praline Cake
This was my dessert choice straight off the Happening Gourmand. When I compared this to the molten lava cake that was sitting across from my place, I felt a bit short-changed. But, that feeling shortly dissipated when I took my first bite.
What you have here is a combination of different chocolate cake textures. You have parts that just melt in your mouth and some that are a tad bit tougher. Any way you go, it was just an awesome pleasure to have this cake.
Our visit to Bevo Pizza started off with a whirlwind of colliding forces doing their thing. When the bit of tension subsided, we were treated to efficient and polite service. The food delivered on all cylinders and made each one of us at the table quite happy.