Canada’s 100 Best - - THE LIST - 5090 Notre Dame St. W., Mon­treal, Que. cof­feep­iz­za­w­ine.com

THE BOUND­ARY of just how far west a Mon­trealer can ven­ture and still find a good meal keeps mov­ing dra­mat­i­cally out­ward. Still, no restau­ra­teurs have ever planted the flag of qual­ity quite so deep in the west­ern culi­nary wilder­ness as Ryan Gray, Emma Car­darelli and Mar­ley Sni­a­towsky did in early 2018 for this new pizza and pasta em­po­rium, with a cof­fee and takeout shop tacked on around the back. If this sounds like the mak­ings of a neigh­bour­hood joint, note that Car­darelli and Gray are also part­ners in Nora Gray. Elena, too, is a des­ti­na­tion. The rea­son why starts with its de­sign, which is airy, bright and wel­com­ing. The curved mar­ble bar is set with blue vel­vet stools; the din­ing room adds or­ange vel­vet ban­quettes and a mauve back wall, set against the wide wooden white­washed planks of the orig­i­nal floor (a floor with a his­tory—for decades, the site housed one of Mon­treal’s most no­to­ri­ous strip clubs). But it’s the food and wine that draw peo­ple in from across the city, again and again. First, there is the wood-oven pizza, for which the dough is made from flour (mostly all-pur­pose, some whole wheat, and a touch of spelt) grown and milled in Que­bec, then nat­u­rally leav­ened for 48 hours. It has the best qual­i­ties of real VPN-ap­proved Neapoli­tan pizza, but none of its com­mon flaws (no ex­ces­sively doughy ring, no soft cen­tre, no tip sag). From Margherita to Mr. Fun-Guy (mush­rooms, cele­riac and ta­leg­gio) the pizza is ex­cep­tional. An­tipasti and sal­ads hit all the right notes, and the pas­tas—like lob­ster- and scal­lop-filled cap­pel­letti dressed in emul­si­fied but­ter and basil—are ex­quis­ite. Rab­bit, chicken and a daily fish are also cooked in the wood-burn­ing oven. Lastly, note that Elena is named for the cel­e­brated nat­u­ral wine­maker Elena Pan­ta­le­oni (La Stoppa), a good friend of the house, and that Gray is one of Mon­treal’s most in­formed and pas­sion­ately ar­tic­u­late promoters of nat­u­ral wines. So the wine list is a feast all its own.

Saf­fron Bu­ca­tini alle Von­gole

Gnoc­chi, white Alba truf­fle shav­ings + basta

Seared scal­lops

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