Annex 98: Vinnie Gambinis | Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search

5660 Sherbrooke E.
Montreal, Quebec

Metro:  Cadillac, Assomption
Bus:   STM 22, 32, 131, 136, 185, 432

Visit:  February 24, 2013

http://vinniegambini.com/

You know what they say about the best laid plans, they often go astray.  No matter how much you’re sure about where you’re going or what’s going to happen, there are curves in the road of life.  One of the curves led me recently to setting foot in Vinnie Gambinis in the east end of Montreal.

It’s pretty safe to say that the eastern part of Sherbrooke street is a pretty desolate area when it comes to restaurants.  If you like your chain restaurants, you’ve got plenty of them over there.  So, when you’re in a tight spot, you still have plenty to choose from.  If you really start thinking about it and if you have a thing for quality places, you’re better off staying far away from this part of Montreal.  Now, if you’re like I was, hungry, the litany of places you could stumble into is enough to solve the problem created by others.

I first came across Vinnie Gambinis in my hometown of Brossard.  The restaurant stood out because the outside building looked like something special.  Every time I passed by, I always wondered what was going on inside. Unfortunatelyy, that location is no longer occupied by Vinnie Gambinis, as there is a Kanda in its place.  Suffice it to say, this Sherbrooke street location looked nothing like the one we had on good old Taschereau boulevard.

The floor of the restaurant is quite spacious.  There is a central section that you need to take a step down to reach.  The remainder of the seating is located in the periphery.  We were taken to a booth near the back of the restaurant.  For a Sunday evening, with a major awards show airing on television, the place was too quiet for comfort. In our section, there were a few tables, but not enough to say that things were packed.

There’s really nothing extremely notable to say about the service.  We were well taken care of.  We hardly had to wait for anything and all our needs were handled with politeness.  With it being a quiet Sunday night, it looked like the ration of labour to customers was quite high.  It also wasn’t quite hard to spot the manager roaming the floor, lending a hand when needed.  In all, there wasn’t much to complain in that department.

When you come into a place without a set of prescribed expectations, there isn’t really much you can really say or feel about an experience.  With that being said, we were just happy that we were able to eat somewhere.  The really nice part of the menu was that there was a special 22 dollars for 2 dishes from a special menu.  That was really appealing and it made it a whole lot easier to choose what we wanted.  In the end, we had nothing to lose.

APPETIZERS

Bruschetta

This contains ripe tomatoes, olive oil, arugula, parmesan cheese, and fresh basil.

One of our group ordered this to begin.  For something that was supposed to be an appetizer, we were all stunned to see just how much there was.  At one point, some of the toppings fell off and we asked how the salad was.  Despite that, it was met with approval.

Pan Seared Scallops w/Pancetta Chips

This is a history making moment for me.  It comes at the most unusual of times, but it happened and I didn’t put much thought into.  For the first time ever, I knowingly ordered and consumed scallops.  I’ve never been a fan of the idea of scallops.  I’m of the mindset that if I feel queasy about the way the food looks pre-cooking, it ain’t going in my belly.  So, it shows how I must feel about pigs and cows, but that’s another issue for a well paid professional.  Thanks to me watching seasons of Hell’s Kitchen, seeing scallops made me ponder how much they were really worth.

With that being said, I split this with my sister and made a go at it.  If you haven’t guessed it by now, the main selling point was the pancetta.  They came in chip form and they were exactly that, tough and somewhat hard.

The big thing for me was eating the scallops.  From my two first pieces of scallops, I can say that I’m, more or less, indifferent.  These didn’t produce enough of a taste that I can really describe.  Then again, maybe they tasted like nothing.  Either way, I might actually give it another go one of these days.

MAIN COURSES

Lasagna

This was one of the 2 items from the special 2 for 22 menu.

Tortellini Emilia

This is a dish of cheese stuffed tortellini with a rosé sauce.

All-Dressed Pizza

For my main dish, I chose a simple all-dressed pizza.  I was thinking earlier that I haven’t had a pizza in a while and that it would be nice.  So, here I was taking my chances with an all-dressed pizza.

The pizza was actually quite a nice portion.  When it comes to the table, it isn’t sliced yet, so you get to do the honors yourself.  I wasn’t going to get fancy, so it was four triangular slices.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and claim that it was the greatest pizza ever, that would be blasphemy.  What I will tell you is that it was more than acceptable for the circumstances.  The sauce was spread evenly across the dough and the crust was just right.  The pizza wasn’t burnt to a crisp, as it remained soft enough to eat without taking out a chisle.  In all, it was a nice way to continue the meal.

DESSERTS

Key Lime Pie

Cheesecake

Chocolate Explosion Cake

With both members of my group happy with their first choice of dessert, my story is a little bit different.  My first choice was a ferrero rocher mousse cake.  I just had that nagging feeling when I went to order this.  As the server was asking for our dessert choices, I was telling myself that they didn’t have any left.  So, the order went in, without a word.

Two desserts arrived at our table and none of those looked like a mousse cake to me.  The server turns over to me and states that they didn’t have any left.  I’m wondering if they knew that 5 minutes prior when they took my order.  Regardless, I was quick with my back-up choice, though a bit disappointed that something more appealing would make sure I had to come back.

This chocolate cake was a mountain of chocolate goodness with traces of caramel.  Don’t get me wrong, the entire cake was good, but I could have done without the caramel.  The cake was soft, just like it was supposed to be, never forcing me to put more effort into the meltiness of it all.

Final Verdict

What started off as a disastrous group outing was remedied somewhat by the fact we ended up a Vinnie Gambinis.  For the price, you’ll get more than acceptable food with decent service.  There was nothing we could really complain about and I don’t think I’d hesitate coming back.

Restaurant Vinnie Gambini on Urbanspoon

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