Finding the best of in Montreal is not easy. Who has the best, burgers, poutine, hot dogs, late night eats, or sushi? Where does such a place exist where the king of a domain dominates over the others? I certainly have my favorites, and I’m sure those choices can be debated, but we won’t get into that now. One of the most desired favorites in Montreal, among many other cities around the world, is pizza. I can vividly recall consuming a cheap 99-cent slice or two numerous times at 3:00am, but those days are long gone. Not the late night eats, but the cheap pizza. These days, I like to enjoy my pizza, get transported back to Italy, and not just to eat for the sake of being full. I want the real thing, the most authentic and rustic pizza. Short of Little Italy, there aren’t many places to find this type of pizza experience elsewhere in Montreal. Enter, Bevo Bar + Pizzeria.
Located literally in the heart of Old Montreal, Bevo sits in the old Galiano’s location on rue Saint-Vincent, just a short block away from Place Jacques Cartier. I love walking through this area during the summer. There’s nothing like taking in that old European style air, especially when there’s such good food around, like Bevo. The inside of this restaurant looks pretty much like the outside; stone walls, rustic setting, open air, and unpretentious atmosphere. The gorgeous bar lights up the room on the right side, while the scorching hot 745 degree wood-burning oven shines on the other. I visited Bevo twice in two nights: once for myself, and the other time for their official opening party.
Sitting at the bar near the pizza oven is a real treat. It’s so much fun watching the chef flatten out the pizza dough, spread a thin layer of sauce, add the various toppings, then gently slide it in the oven for about 90 to 120 seconds. Yes, it takes under 2 minutes to cook one pizza. The first night I was there, I felt like going the simple route. I ordered one of my absolute favorite Italian dishes, arancino. Traditionally made from leftover risotto mixed with breadcrumbs and/or eggs as well as anything else the cook decides (peas, proscuitto, mozzarella, etc.), formed into a ball, then lightly breaded and fried. This wonderful dish is about the size of a baseball. The risotto is mixed with saffron, parmesan, mozzarella, topped with a delicious meat ragu. This dish didn’t disappoint. The cheesy risotto mixed with the tasty ragu is fantastic. For the pizza, I went simple again with a straight up Margherita. The dough is lightly covered with a nice tomato sauce, a few pieces of fior di latte cheese (very similar to buffalo mozzarella), then sprinkled with basil leaves as soon as the pizza comes out of the oven. As good as the ingredients are, it’s the dough that makes this pizza great. Just crispy enough, and just the right amount of chew with a little smokiness from the wood burning in the oven. Simplicity at it’s finest.
For the opening party, I had the opportunity to meet the talented chef, Giovanni Vella and try a few more pizzas, like the “salame”. Thin slices of spicy Italian salami are perched atop melted mozzarella is all its glory. This pizza gives off a great heat from the charcuterie and a nice, delicate sweetness from the sauce, cheese, and dough. The capricosa surprised me in a good way. Anytime sausage appears as a topping, it’s hard to find something wrong with it. Add a few mushrooms, and step it up another notch. Throw on a few peices of hard-boiled egg, and you’ve won me over. The spiced sausage, earthy mushrooms, and eggs work harmoniously together. Also, special for this party, chef Vella’s neighbor, Michele Forgione from Venti from down the street, was roasting porchetta outside with the smoke billowing into the narrow streets while the tantalizing smell made mouths water. Served in a little baguette as a sandwich, the pork was tender and juicy. Although this version is not on the menu, porchetta al forno with a white wine herb sauce is, so be sure to try that one. Finally, for dessert, nutella pizza. Gooey, chocolatey, and what I can only describe as the most decadent pizza ever. If there’s any pizza you should not pass up on, it’s this one.
So herein begs the question: does Bevo Bar + Pizzeria have the best pizza in the city? Well, it’s definitely up there. Chef Giovanni Vella knows how to work his pizzas and especially that lava-like oven. I certainly enjoyed it and will definitely be back for more. I haven’t had many pizzas where the dough and crust is that good. I believe this simple characteristic, along with fresh ingredients, and a great atmosphere are what makes Bevo special. Here’s a short video of one of the chefs making a couple pizzas.
Bevo Bar + Pizzeria: 410 Rue Saint Vincent Montréal, QC H2Y 3A5, (514) 861-5039