Annex 140: Amelios | Mr. Lew's Great Burger Search

201 Milton
Montréal, Québec

Métro:  Place-des-Arts
Bus:  STM 24, 55, 80, 125, 129, 144, 435, 935

Visit:  March 7, 2014

Lately, I’ve been on pizza tour that has included a few places that I’ve been meaning to try.  The quality of some of these places may vary, but there’s one thing that’s completely consistent, they all serve pizza.  If you’ve spent any time near the McGill ghetto, you would have, no doubt, heard the name Amelios.

I’m a McGill graduate and I’m quite proud of that fact.  I spent four years putting myself in a lot of debt, most of which is now gone, just to add the ‘Mr.’ part to the title of this blog.  During that time, all that I did was go to class and go straight home.  I didn’t have the means or any real desire to explore the places that made the campus one of the best in the world.  From time to time, you’d hear these names and you’d know that people were going there.

This takes me to Amelios and something like 8 years after the last course I took at the institution.  Located near the McGill ghetto, it is the pizza place that is the most synonymous with campus.  People rave about their pizza and the place can be jam packed literally any day that you may choose to visit.

Like any place I visit, I try to conduct the ample amount of research it takes to make sure that I’m prepped properly.  Any tidbit of information makes it easier for me to make the most of the time I spend eating food in a restaurant.  I always love to know about the food and the online comments pushed it to the moon.  What bothered me was what I read on the other side of the ledger.

People may agree or disagree all they want about what I’m about to broach and that’s their right.  I think that service is just as vital as any item of food on any menu.  Without the service, you’re not getting the entire experience.  So, before I can assess the service, here’s what I know.  Amelios isn’t the biggest place in the world and the space to dine in is very limited.  They close early and don’t take reservations.  I may or may not surprise you to know that people line out the door to have this pizza, no matter how cold it might be.

The next part is the tough part that bothered me a bit in my online research.  From what I’ve read, they aren’t the most welcoming of people and like any good Chinese restaurant, they don’t want you to linger too long at any table.  There’s always a defense to that and it all lies in the food.  It’s funny that I mention Chinese restaurants because people tend to frequent those places no matter how abrasive staff are.  So, my personal policy is that all is fair as long as the food is worth it.  With this being said, I was ready to try Amelios for the first time.

When I came in, it was still pretty early in the day and there was an abundance of space.  Getting a table wasn’t the tough part and the restaurant didn’t get crowded so much while I was there.  It was a little disappointing that I wasn’t going to get the full experience by being asked to leave to make room.

From my vantage point, I was able to see into the kitchen, where it looked like an army of people were making things flow.  It looked like a well-oiled machine and there’s nothing wrong with that.  There also seemed to be a very clear chain of command.  We all know that crossing anyone in a position of power isn’t recommended and that’s the case here.  If you work here, you need to work.

That last comment I made brings me to the service.  I was greeted at the door by the person who would be my server for the time I would be there.  You could tell right away that they didn’t have much experience and that they were a step behind the two other more experienced servers.  I asked a question about salads and they had to go back to check the answer.  I had to repeat myself a few times, but that didn’t bother me.  However, it bothered someone.

I can understand that a lackluster employee can slow down the assembly line, but there are some things, in this day and age, that I don’t.  My position in the dining room allowed me to actually hear what was happening in the kitchen.  When the manager, or what seemed like a very important person in the restaurant, confronted my server, it didn’t sit well with me.  “If you’re sleeping, you can stay home.”  That seems innocent, but with the accompanying tone, it’s downright nasty.  There has to be a better way to speak to an employee.

What I wrote in the previous paragraph might not be received well and I can’t help but cringe when I think of it.  A lot of people have read the things I’ve written in the past 5 years and I have received feedback of all varieties.  I may get some backlash for sharing what I heard, but that’s how I do things.  I like being honest and that was the one line that I can’t get out of my head when I think of this restaurant.  I apologize if anyone takes offense to that, but I had a hard time hearing that.

With all that being said, it is the food that is the ultimate judge of all.  Regardless of what you can say about service, people go to great lengths to get food that tastes good and is worth money.  If you’re looking for charming personalities, you can always go to a bar where bartenders make money based on all that.

Each pizza comes with a salad.  Now, there’s not much to say about the salad except the fact that you have a generous helping of carrots.  It, in a way, reminds me of the salads you can get at Mr. Steer.  The second you sit down, the salad is on the table, whether you ordered it or not.   Here, it might not have been automatic, but it was the necessary choice to make.

Bacon Pizza ($13.25)

When it came time to get to the main event, I went with the smallest pizza and I was happy to find that it was a simple bacon pizza.  A lot of times, you find places bundle bacon with onions.  Most of the time, that combination doesn’t work for me.  Having a place offering a simple pizza on the menu, to me, is a whole lot better.  After all, if you want extra onions, can’t you ask for some?

When the pizza made its quick arrival, the first thing I noticed right away was something that’s been sorely lacking in my recent pizza visits.  The crust was thick and it didn’t look like your fancy pie.  It’s the kind of pizza I can get behind and the best kind for delivery.  This type of pizza packs more punch and you get a better meal out of it.

After taking my first bite, I understood right away why people line up for an eternity just for a seat in the small restaurant.  The combination of sauce, cheese, and ingredients is well worth what you’re paying for.  The best part is the crust.  I might like a thin crust from time to time, but nothing beats having something hearty when it is so much thicker.  This does the trick and that puts it above others for me.

If I have slight complaints, it would be in the fact that it’s one gigantic slice of bacon running up and down the pizza.  I would gladly pay to have more bacon if that’s what it took, but we’ll make do with what we can get.

When you get piping hot pizza, you should really wait.  If you’re in a hurry, you’ll note that the cheese would slide off of the dough.  That was an issue in the early goings, but it did improve as the whole thing cooled down.  Even though I pounced on the pizza pretty quickly, I didn’t burn myself, so that balanced things out.

After finishing the pizza, I can see why people trust Amelios to get their fix.  While it isn’t my favorite pizza ever, it’s one that I wouldn’t count out.  There are a lot of nice elements going on here and the pizza itself lends itself to the people who are eating it.  It’s not pretentious and it’s worth the wait.  So, the question is, is it worth everything that comes with it?

Final Verdict

With all I said about the things I overheard, I now have to weigh that against the actual pizza.  I can understand what the lure is in a place like this.  It’s that place on the corner that you can easily walk by and that probably doesn’t need your business since it’s been around a very long time.  But, no matter how good the pizza is, I wish I never heard what I did.

Amelio's on Urbanspoon


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  1. mrlewburger posted this