Monday, August 30, 2010

Al Dante: A documentary about family, pizza, and Montreal

Fig.1. Stefano Faita is genuine and passionate about pizza; his shirt says it all.

I received an email from the CBC asking me if I would review and blog about a documentary entitled Al Dante: Respect the Pizza. Al Dante is part of a six part summer series showcasing food, film and music in Montreal. While the show is about pizza, it’s also about local food celebrity, Stefano Faita. The show follows Faita on his quest for pizza, the premise (which feels slightly contrived at times) begins as Faita is seen speaking on the phone, presumably to his editor, about how his next article (Faita writes a weekly column for the Journal de Montreal) will be about pizza. What ensues is a quest, not solely for pizza itself, but rather, for reasons on why a simple pizza can be so sublime.
Faita’s passion for food and Montreal help make this documentary a treat to watch.
The documentary takes a look into Faita’s family history as well as the Faita family business: Montreal institution, Quincaillerie Dante. Faita`s background parallels the history of thousands of immigrants who made their way into this city, especially in the area of Little Italy. The documentary also does a great job showcasing the importance of the Jean Talon Market as a hub, a nexus fed by the masses of immigrants who over the years have made this market into the marvel it is today.
Faita visits the Jean Talon Market in search of fresh ingredients (the part where Faita seeks the help of Mr. Birri and his cohorts is especially amusing); he visits Bottega where he samples pizza made in a real Napoli pizza oven, and eats Nutella pizza for dessert (which is still very popular all over Italy) but what stands out for me is Faita’s emphasis, probably unbeknownst to him, on how with a bit of practice, great pizza can be made at home. He makes pizza for breakfast, he makes pizza with his daughter and he shows people (in his cooking school) how to make pizza at home.
Having sought out pizza all over Italy, New York, Boston, New Haven and Montreal, I can confidently tell you that the quest for the best pizza is an unattainable quest; but, Faita shows us that making pizza yourself brings you one step closer to sublime pizza, and your family and friends (and especially your kids) will think it's the best pizza they've ever had.

The Montreal summer series, which will air in September, is hosted by CBC news co-anchor Andrew Chang. For the complete schedule or to watch Al Dante: Respect the Pizza on the Internet, visit


Anonymous said...

The Hungry Italian...which deciphered means
And the government is with RYAN SEACREST?
And the UK is with PRINCESS ANNE?
You see, the twisted think so differently and
" MY BANG LAMP" gives you pause.
MP , the physician, of the MP3 with DR. DRAGON BALL and ROSSYWAR?
All doctors in " SS" with the BUNN- BUNN 5?
See what I mean?

ChefNick said...

The meds, Michelle, the meds . . . they're fucking with your mind. Like with me . . . this morning I decided not to go to work. I called them and left a message . . . "I can't come in today; the voices are telling me to clean my guns."

Michelle, please learn not to drink and type. Untold thousands of lives can be saved if you just follow that small piece of advice.

Untold millions would be grateful if you paid your psychiatrist a call as soon as possible.

ChefNick said...

The most bizarre thing about Dante was the one room with the kitchen gadgets and the other room, with the shotguns.

Huh? I asked myself. A GUN SHOP in Montreal? Yet there they were, in unapologetic glory. Rack upon rack of lethal weapons, just a hop and a skip from the ravioli presses.

Dunno if they're still there, but the Dante folk were as kind as Santas.

BTW if ya want pizza please check out my blog.

Always nice to see a good food writer here in Montreal. We're a rare breed, dude . . .