Daily Slice: Downtown Pizza at Arlequino, Montreal
Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.
I have found great pizza in Montreal's outlying neighborhoods, but I wondered if it was possible to find the same great pies in the city's downtown. Arlequino, which occupies prime real estate on rue Drummond near Ste-Catherine, was an obvious choice, boasting a wood-fired oven.
I ordered half a white pie, the Udine, which is topped with potato, caramelized onion, and ricotta cheese ($16, whole), and a half red pie, the Bari, which arrives with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, rapini, and sausage ($18, whole). The top of the crust had an unnaturally slick appearance, like it was brushed with olive oil as it came out of the oven. Even worse, the dough lacked any puffiness or rise, and a mouthful of the stuff felt like saltine-like sawdust. I love a crisp crust, but this was really a toasted flour tortilla.
On the Bari, the mozzarella cheese was barely melted, yet coagulated into rubbery, flaccid, and sweaty pucks. The soggy rapini and generic Italian sausage were nearly as offensive as the pasty, sugary tomato sauce beneath it, which had the consistency of toothpaste but somehow cradled bizarre pockets of moisture. ("It's filled with the tears of missed opportunities," my date remarked).
The Udine half fared even worse. The onions had melted into an inedible, slimy, fuschia-colored tangle, while the burnt potato rounds were deep-fried into mealy oblivion. (I won't get into those sad, sour mounds of ricotta). Everything felt careless and corporate. It made my soul ache.
I'll happily devour even the most mediocre of pizzas—when you're hungry and it's hot, how bad can pizza really be, right? But I struggled to eat even a quarter of the food before me. I've never been happier to stick to my trusty suburban outposts for delicious Montreal pies.
About the Author: Natasha Pickowicz is a San Diego-born food writer currently based in Montreal. She is also the baker at Montreal restaurant Dépanneur Le Pick Up. She contributes to the Kinfolk Magazine, Montreal Gazette, the Montreal Mirror, and Acquired Taste Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @natashapickowiz.