Chez Elio

On the other side of the train tracks separating the Mile End from Rosemont is an Italian restaurant that no one should miss. I used to pick up my daughter at a daycare a few blocks north of Elio's, and it was just another building until the patio opened. I was pregnant at the time and my enhanced sense of smell could pick up the delicious aroma of tomato sauce at least a block before I waddled past.

We've had more than a few meals chez Elio, and every time we drop in we ask, "How can simple tomato sauce taste this good?" And the best part--the servings are so large that we have enough food for at least the next meal if not more. I asked my hairdresser, Josée, about Elio's. She moved to Canada from Italy when she was 15.

"Yeah, it's good, but that's where people my parents' age go," she said. "It's for an older generation."

The restaurant was founded in 1964, and although some recent interior design changes have been made, there are still some retro features, such as the outdoor showcase with a plaster Joseph holding the baby Jesus, Elio's framed letter from the Pope, a statue of a monk with a giant rosary around his neck, vintage gum ball machines and, of course, its signature wooden arches. The restaurant has also been immortalized in Sébastien Diaz's book Montréal Kitsch, a guide to fun, yet tacky, Montreal landmarks.

This is also a place where you can buy the pasta and take it home. I was once standing behind a man from Toronto at the cash who bought $150 worth of sauce and pasta to take back to la Ville Reine (Queen's city, a synonym for Toronto). Another very important point, children are made to feel welcome in this restaurant, both by the staff and the customers. I have wonderful memories of family meals at Elio's.

Restaurant Elio
Buffet Anna Maria
351-357 Bellechasse, Montreal

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