Primo e Secondo MontrealOct 07 2012 · 1 comment · Dining Out
Primo e Secondo is an absolute and total gem. This is one of the best Italian restaurants in Montreal, if not THE best. Just take a look at the pictures below or from the restaurant website. If those don’t make your mouth water, then I don’t know what will. From the food to the service to the atmosphere, Primo e Secondo takes the whole dining experience to a whole new level.
Located in the quaint neighbourhood of Little Italy, it is surrounded by residential houses and Italian bakeries, coffee shops and restaurants alike giving it a real community sort of vibe. With such close proximity to the Jean Talon market, you can bet that the ingredients used in the dishes prepared here are the freshest available in order to create the most premium of products. That being said, you’ll probably correctly guess that the menu here changes depending on availability and seasonality of the ingredients.
It was great to see that the restaurant culture really resonated with the staff – we got the impression that they all truly believe in the food that is being served and the restaurant philosophy. There is a tangible sense of pride and accomplishment in they way the servers happily explain the offerings of the day, go through every single item on the menu, translating from Italian to English – sometimes more than once. Not gonna lie: by the time he got to the end, we forgot some of the ones in the beginning. His patience was pretty admirable. Ya gotta respect that.
Starting with a complimentary charcuterie dish with some pickles, we were off to a flying start. The assortment of warm bread was nice – dipped with a little olive oil… The bread was good enough to keep us coming back for more – we had to restrain ourselves so that we would have enough room for the feast to come.
First up, the fried zucchini flower. Exotic looking and beautifully plated, these were crispy and golden coloured on the outside, supple and smooth on the inside. These are somewhat of a rarity – hardly do I ever see zucchini flowers on any menu, anywhere so that give this dish bonus points in my book. I love being surprised by food and what different people can do with it, whatever “it” is. Paired with chopped tomatoes and grated cheese on top, this dish was one of our favourites overall.
Impossibly thin pieces of raw meat – otherwise known as the beef carpaccio – came on a pristine oval white plate. Peeling off the pieces carefully, making sure to get a good bit of sauce for each bite, it tasted cool and smooth in texture, just like it’s supposed to. Between the five of us – this entire thing disappeared within seconds.
The house salad was simple – drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and topped with pecorino cheese, it was a nice sort of neutral dish to give us a little break before the (food) storm. You’ll see what I mean as you read on.
Onto the heavier part of our feast. How cute are these? Ear shaped pasta, also known as orechiette, was served with bits of sausage and rapini. Everyone got a little bit to taste. There’s nothing like fresh pasta!
If I knew how to make risotto like this, I would have it every day and just change up the main ingredients. It’s that good. Being a standard in Italian cuisine, the porcini mushroom risotto here is made with white truffle oil and topped with shaved parmesan cheese. Getting a larger size to share amongst two people, the amount served was just right. The umami taste was nicely infused into the arborio rice, giving it a strong, tangible flavour. It’s a taste that seems somewhat elusive in most mushroom risottos out there, but Primo has it nailed down.
In the mood for something seafood based, I went for the lobster tails. To be honest, they was good but compared to everything everyone else got, my dish got showed up! I found myself wanting more and craving some of that tasty risotto. I found the portion could have been slightly bigger as well – maybe including some more veggies or a incorporating something heavier into the dish would have helped.
Grilled to a medium rare, the lamb chops were paired with a subtle mint yogurt sauce and some artichokes. Knawing the meat right off the bone (yes, using our hands), no meat was left untouched.
Do you see what I see? Yeah, that’s right. A glorious veal chop. Huge, towering, juicy, tender, delicious and everything else you’d expect it to be based on the picture above. You’re into meat? Don’t even look at the menu. Get this.
I mean, just look at these though. Yeah, that’s what I thought. They look amazing. And they were. The tiramisu is a tried and true classic – get that anytime here and you’ll know what everyone else has been trying to copy when they name their cake a ‘tiramisu’. This is the original recipe – hardly any other version can compare. Light, fluffy layers of lady fingers sandwich creamy, thick mascarpone cheese. Dusted with chocolate and accompanied by a strawberry, it is simple perfection.
The same can be said for the mille feuille. The presentation here surprised me once again. Expecting the usual (I guess I should have known better) flaky, buttery pastry with some sort of icing – I got something entirely different and a hundred times better. Changing up the formula to include figs? Ingenious. I loved it.
Let me say this: Primo e Secondo understands service, better than most restaurants do. Every time we’ve been, the staff has managed to make us feel special – like our visit meant more to them then just their tips for the night. To sum up the meal in a couple words: epic, professional, authentic, amazing.
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