Thursday, May 14, 2009

Delmonaco: Keeping the Tradition Alive

Fig.1. Delmonaco co-owner Luigi Sabelli behind a refridgerated counter filled with all manners of heart warming Italian staples.

My write-ups usually consist of recipes which feature traditional or forgotten meals of Italian origin. Seldom, if ever, do I write about Montreal food establishments. (I prefer to leave that to much more capable food sites such as An Endless Banquet or the foodies at chowhounds.) But after reading an article on pizza in the Journal de Montreal on Monday, April 27, I had to weigh in.
The Journal’s appointed nutritionist wrote a piece on which of the three pizzas, from either Boston Pizza, Pizza Hut, or Dominos, was the healthiest. All three pizzas were obviously high in calories, but, even the nutritionist was surprised at how high the sodium levels were. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone—least of all a certified nutritionist—that overly processed food is laced with salt.
There is such a thing, however, as a proper pizza and this is the option the nutritionist failed to mention in her article: The notion of simple pizza dough made of flour, water and yeast topped with real tomatoes, real cheese and proper sausages.
There are many excellent Italian pastry shops in Montreal’s East and North End which make such pizzas, but, I recently found a pizza gold mine in the West Island.
Delmonaco Pret a Manger, in Pierrefonds, is a fairly new Italian eatery specializing in Italian take out and catering. Everything is made in house; from lasagne to meatballs to an assortment of fresh pasta; it’s like having two Italian Grandmothers move into the neighbourhood. Owners Luigi and Maurizio have altered the concept of ready-made food to suit their tastes and reflect their very Italian upbringing. Traditional dishes of veal parmigiana and arancini are available either fresh or frozen, in party sizes or individual portions.
The square pizzas at Delmonacos’ are nothing short of incredible. There’s freshness to the pizza that truly makes it stand out from the rest. The crust, when eaten on the spot, is golden, with a crunchy bottom and a chewy center. My favourite is hands down the onion, olive, and chilli pepper creation I bought for a party I was having; it was sweet, tangy and spicy all at the same time. If you have places to go and people to see, call them in advance, they’ll have your pizza wrapped up and ready to take home. Or, for a change of pace, order your pizza or “sangwich”, sit at a table and have a great cup of espresso or cappuccino while you wait (Luigi considers himself quite the coffee afficianado and rightly so based on the espresso I had) and pretend you’re in Italy. Your life does not always have to be frenetic.
So the next time you think Pizza Hut is your only option, just know that there are others, with a love for what pizza ought to be, who are truly worthy of your patronage.

Fig.2. You know it's going to be good when it's bare hands on.
A spotlessly clean pan and olive oil go into attaining a proper crust.

Fig.3. Freshly squeezed plum tomatos, salt and more olive oil applied with the utensils God gave you.

Fig.4. Cooling on a wire rack insures no condensation forms on the bottom of the crust, resulting in a crisp, golden crust.

-Delmonaco, 4499A Westpark, Pierrefonds, Qu├ębec, H9A 2X8 corner of boulevards Pierrefonds and Westpark. Tel.: 514-685-4141, Fax: 514-685-1633