680 Sainte-Catherine O.
Bus: STM 15, 24, 61, 107, 150, 168, 178, 410, 420, 427, 430, 435, 715, 747, 935
Visit: November 21, 2013
Sainte-Catherine street is probably one of the busiest pedestrian avenues in the entire city. On any given day, you’ll find thousands of people making their way to one place or another. It’s the kind of street where things happen at all times of the day. That’s the case in the middle of the afternoon at Guido and Angelina.
On this particular day, I was headed to my first teacher’s convention in about 4 years and I needed to find a place to eat. Also, having a parent-teacher conference afterwards limited my options of places to go and when I was going to eat. This forced me to have something to eat in the middle of the afternoon. I’ve been ‘kicked’ out of certain restaurants in the pre-search days because of that reason. So, downtown was the only place where I was sure to get something to eat and thinking of that, a place that I haven’t been to before.
This is where Guido and Angelina comes in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked by this restaurant. And no, I wasn’t in the area because of that flashy place that probably does more interesting business right next door. After a certain while, there comes a time where you just have to walk in. I was actually going to walk further down to another place, but some scathing online reviews put the kibosh on that.
I was really careful about this visit, mostly because of the time. The first question I asked the server, who was the only one on duty, was if the restaurant was open. I wanted to avoid getting shown the door. Once I got the answer I wanted, I was taken to my seat right near the window.
For a while, it seemed like I was the only customer in the entire restaurant and this place isn’t that small. There may have been another small group hidden behind the bar, but I felt like I was it. My seat near the window might have been a motivation for others to walk in later. I know that when I see no activity or sign of life, I’m more likely to walk away. So, placing a customer by the window is, to me, a good idea to attract customers.
Fondue di Parmigiano ($10)
These are deep fried parmesan cubes. On the side, you have a mesclun salad and a marinara sauce.
For the appetizer, I wanted something a little bit different. Out of the entire list, this was the most appealing item at that particular moment. I have to say that the crust was consistent on all the pieces and that looked pretty nice. What was necessary was the marinara sauce. Without that sauce, the cubes were lacking much taste.
The mesclun salad, though not my real intention in ordering, was a surprise hit with me. I’m starting to really like olives again and this salad had a whole bunch of them. The saltiness of the olive pieces was what really scored for me.
Guido Pizza ($16)
This pizza is topped with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and pancetta.
I think I’ve been on a bit of a pizza thing lately and this was the most logical choice for me here. When the pizza arrived to the table, I could tell that I might be on the fence about this one. The two main reasons for that were the individual placements of the pancetta and cherry tomatoes.
I don’t get cherry tomatoes on pizza. They look really nice and they might taste good, when done right, but they’re more of a nuisance than an advantage in a situation like this. I was contemplating having them not placed on the pizza, but like a burger, I didn’t want to tinker too much with the product. The majority of the tomatoes fell off of the pizza and that was disappointing.
The pancetta tasted really nice. However, when a piece of pancetta is placed at the center of a slice of pizza, you run the risk of getting rid of all that pancetta goodness on the first bite. With a lot of different dishes, you want to get equal bites of the whole product. That way, it provides you with the most optimal experience. So, when the pancetta exits quite quickly, you’re stuck with a plain cheese pizza. Unfortunately, that was my experience here.
The overall pizza wasn’t that bad, but the two main detractors made it hard to completely enjoy what I was having. By the time I was on the last slice, I was really stuffed. It doesn’t really show when the pizza is set down, but it’s a heavy one to down.
Chocolate Cake ($7)
I had some time to spare and an apparent wish for a heart attack, so I decided to order dessert. This chocolate cake had a combination of harder components with some more mousse-like parts. I preferred the softer parts of the cake, as the harder parts were too heavy, as things were much tougher to finish at this point.
For a downtown restaurant, Guido and Angelina has a bunch of interesting dishes to try. Even for a quiet period, the food came out without major issues and the service was still quite adequate. I wasn’t blown away, but I wasn’t that disappointed either.