Bus: STM 69, 135, 164, 171, 179, 180
Visit: June 14, 2013
Montreal has thousands of restaurants that belong in many different categories. While a large quantity of them find themselves in select areas of the island, there are other possible gems that can be found outside that concentration of well-known restaurants. It was really great to hear about a place that was close by where I worked and in an area where you wouldn’t necessarily think of decent places to eat. The place in question is called Sapori di Napoli.
Usually, I find out about restaurants from doing a large amount of research online or by scouring the ranks of the many outlets of social media. For this restaurant, I can’t say that I first heard about it through those methods. As a teacher, I sometimes get the chance to assign interesting reports to my unsuspecting students. One of those written assignments was a restaurant review. This year, one of the restaurants chosen was Sapori di Napoli. What I heard and read during the assignment was so interesting that I just had to put that down on my list of places to visit.
A little while later, Sapori di Napoli was featured in the Montreal Gazette. If it’s good enough to be written up in the Gazette, there must be something to it. For a place that’s so close by, I was wondering why I haven’t heard of it sooner. In the months that followed the reviews I read about the place, I was just biding my time to see what the fuss was all about.
For this occasion, I gathered my close group of colleagues, both past and present, to celebrate another concluded school year. Among the group was my pizza person, Steakman, who I rely heavily upon for his opinion.
Sapori di Napoli looks like an interesting place. When you approach the restaurant, it’s really hard to miss. It is located at the bottom of a duplex. The restaurant itself seems to have taken up the basement level of that duplex. The space inside isn’t cramped at all and there is enough room to sit comfortably. You also have an area outside to dine.
I didn’t take any chances with our visit, so I made reservations for our group. We arrived and were seated immediately. We had this quaint corner table next to the window, where we could easily see the large screens displaying various sporting events. From my vantage point, I could see nearly the entire restaurant, which was pretty busy.
From the beginning of our seating, our server treated us pretty well. I have to admit that for a time, I thought this person was more than a server, mainly due to the way they were dressed. Our water and bread was promptly delivered to the table without fuss. We weren’t rushed either as we waited for the remaining member of our party, which was a plus in my books. However, things got sour a little later on after the main dishes arrived.
While we were waiting for our party to be completed, we decided to go the appetizer route. Steakman and I split a salad. There’s nothing much to say about the salad because it was like every other Caesar on the planet. It was a good start to the proceedings.
On top of the salad, I chose to compliment my appetizers with a dose of arancini. The night before, I was at another Italian restaurant and I ordered the same thing. I was impressed with what I had previously and was hoping Sapori di Napoli could make it two for two.
These are cooked rice balls with a outer coating that can be compared to a crust. Using your fork, you break the ball up into more manageable pieces. I offered Steakman a piece and we found out that a knife doesn’t quite do the trick.
In all, I really enjoyed the arancini. The other crust was crunchy, but not too much. The inner filling was just right with the right amount of cheese to make you really happy.
This was Steakman’s pizza with pepperoni and mozzarella. This is where things got a little iffy. In the center of the pizza, there was a pool of oil. Steakman wasn’t happy when he saw this. He called over the server to see what the explanation was going to be. Nothing the server said was satisfactory enough, especially when the explanation was that it was the way it was supposed to be.
With a thin crust pizza like this, I guess it’s only normal to have an amount of oil or grease seep out. But, from the view of all of us sitting at the table, we were in agreement with Steakman that it was a bit too much.
Before I get to my pizza, I have to state that the other three members of our group received food that met their standards, as there were no complaints.
This pizza includes cherry tomatoes, onions, and pancetta.
Like with the arancini, I ordered the same type of pizza that I had the previous night, just to see how they stack up against each other.
My pizza was the last one to hit the table and the second it landed, we all could see the same issues. I wasn’t about the speak up as I saw where that got Steakman. I was thinking that the pizza might surprise me and that I might get past the first hurdle. To be honest, the oiliness of the pizza didn’t really bother me so much, but there were other things that did.
With this being a thin crust pizza, I could let some things slide. The crust being thin can have trouble supporting heavy meats like pancetta. It wasn’t easy holding up the slice and it probably would have been a better idea to eat it with a fork and knife.
The distribution of the ingredients was the next questionable item for me. The mass of pancetta was all in the middle of the pizza, as I could find none near the crust. So, as you take a bite into a slice, you lose all the meat afterwards. Then, the cherry tomatoes just didn’t do the trick for me.
In the days that followed, I spoke to people who knew the restaurant well and got some information. The first thing I found out is that we got a server that got in the way. I’ll explain that by saying that if we were to pass our concerns by the management, we would have had a better result. The next thing is that you have to know which pizza to order. The picture you see above was the pizza that was well received, as there were no issues with the conception at all. It represented Sapori di Napoli well.
We went into our visit to Sapori di Napoli with the greatest of expectations. However, we can’t win them all on either side of the equation. Our appetizers started us off well and we were hoping that momentum would follow us into the main courses. Half of our group were pretty happy with what we had, while the inconsistency of the pizza for the rest of us put a damper on our evening. Personally, I haven’t given up on this place and am hoping to give it another shot.