La tirannia della mediocrità

A version of this article appeared in the Montreal Mirror on June 14th, 2012.

Rosalie is a downtown Italian restaurant that serves wood-fired oven pizza to men who drive sports cars.


Some weeks ago, I read a very strong endorsement for the pizza at a downtown spot called Rosalie. The restaurant was described as being somewhat tacky and received an overall lukewarm review, but the pizza was described in absolutely glowing terms. It went as far saying that it would make Montreal a pizza destination. I felt compelled try it.

As my dinner companions and I rode past the sports cars parked in front of Rosalie, we could immediately see that this was not the kind of restaurant we tend to frequent. I was also clear that we were not the type of client it usually receives. I nonetheless approached the situation with an open mind and encouraged my companions to do the same. Leaving one’s comfort zone can sometimes be exhilarating. This experience, however, was just annoying and not worth enduring: the pizza was a monumental disappointment.

Things got off to a bad start before I even entered the restaurant. I was hounded by Rosalie’s silk shirt clad valet for trying to lock my bicycle to a fence running along the restaurants terrace (there were no suitable posts anywhere in sight).

Once inside the slick, wood panel and mirror clad dining room, we were seated at a table near a huge flat screen. There few things I dislike more than a TV constantly flashing in the corner of my eye while I’m trying to eat, and I am especially unwilling tolerate this at a pricey restaurant.

Equally distracting was the bartender, a blonde with boobs propped up to chin level, wearing a blouse unbuttoned to below her sternum. This display made us feel as if we were at Hooters, except instead of boorish suburban hosers, the other clients were mostly suit-wearing, Lamborghini-driving douchebags.

Our slightly intense waitress promptly offered us drinks. Two of us requested a negroni, a popular Italian cocktail made of Campari, vermouth, and gin. She had no clue what it was but offered to have them made for us anyway. We somehow doubted the bartender would know how so instead we requested some Italian beers, which were listed on chalkboard above the bar. They were unavailable. We were offered a selection of bottled Molson products.

Before delving into the pizzas, we had a couple of basic starters: a Caesar salad ($13) and fried calamari ($16). Both portions were small considering the price. The salad was a bland, the garlic and anchovy pungency that I seek in a good Caesar being absent. The calamari were a touch rubbery but otherwise inoffensive.

We shared three different pizzas, from a selection of seven. Our choices included the Margherita, with bocconcini, and basil ($16); La Parma, with bocconcini, parmesan, prosciutto, and arugula ($20); and the Macellaio, with bocconcini, sausage, pancetta, soppressata, and speck ($22).

The only positive thing I can say about the pizzas is that they looked good. They had the right dimensions, having the diameter and thickness of a vinyl long play record. They were dressed sparingly but not stingily, the proper Italian way. There was some black blistering visible on the upper surface of the crust, usually a good sign—the mark of a pizza baked in a very hot, wood-fired oven.

Appearances very quickly proved to be deceiving. What makes or breaks a pizza, especially a sparingly topped one, is the crust. The crusts of all three pizzas were deficient. They were overly floured, creating an unpleasantly dusty exterior finish. They were also excessively salty and overly oiled, tasting at times more fried than baked. If I had wanted on oil-laden, fried crust, I’d have gone to Pizza Hut. Worst of all, one of the pizzas, the Macellaio, was completely burnt on the bottom.

The tomato sauce, with which all three pies had been smeared, lacked sweetness and perfume. There is nothing much to say about the remaining toppings, other than that they looked fresh. But that mattered little atop a base so thoroughly mediocre.

My experience really did not match the endorsement I had read. Perhaps the pizzaiolo (pizza master) had the day off and a less skilled hand was filling in? I won’t be going back to check this hypothesis.

Rosalie

Address: 1232 de la Montagne
Phone: 514-392-1970
Web: www.rosalierestaurant.com
Hours: SUN-TUE 5 pm - 11 pm, WED-SAT 11:30 am – 11 pm
Best features: Getting the fuck out of there.
Alcohol: Yes.
Wheelchair Access: Yes.
Vegetarian friendly: Yes.
Credit cards: Yes.
Price: Pizza $15-$25
Rating: * out of ****

2 comments:

  1. Confirmed. When the patrons all have their elbows above their shoulder line trying to cut the crust, this is a clear indication that there was either too much gluten in the dough, or the dough was over worked.

    The sauce they use is an excellent sauce which is my kitchen standard. Yet, for some reason the only notes which came through were sour and salty, and none of the rich tomato from the San Marzano Brand sauce appeared on the pizza.. I am still confused by this.

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