Pushap retains authentic décor, quality, low prices
by Barbara Moser
It’s been six years since I last visited Pushap at 5195 Paré, the only vegetarian Indian restaurant in town. Then, it was literally a hole in the wall, a tiny intimate space holding 15 or 20 diners. You felt as though you were eating in a friend ’s kitchen, and you were treated as a friend. It was about that time that the Pushap family decided to enlarge their space and add about 12 tables. The d écor is still intimate and authentic but now you can sit at your own table and don ’t have to wait in line for a seat.
We started with six Pakoras, bulging with veggies and spicier than usual, for a whopping $1.50. As I write this, I marvel at the prices. Apart from Wilensky ’s, Pushap may be the only restaurant in town to offer an item (the Puri bread) at 50 cents, but if I ’m wrong let me know. Not much more expensive are the Raita, a yogurt sauce and lots of it for $1.50, and the rice for $1.75. For appetizers, you can also try the $1.25 combo of one Samosa and two Pakoras.
For our mains we ordered Palak Paneer ($3.50), chunks of Indian cheese with spinach; Mattar Paneer ($3.50) green peas and cheese curry; and Zucchini, cooked with onion and spices ($3.50). All the dishes have different tastes, all are robust in flavor and medium spicy, but still tolerable for those who can ’t eat spicy Indian food. Our young waiter, probably a Pushap son, brought us a large metal plate with our rice and some complimentary cabbage, complete with spoons, and then the three dishes which, after our Pakoras, we could barely finish.
I’ve always enjoyed Pushap but this new Pushap is even better. It’s retained its homemade quality and personal service, and the food, if anything, is better than ever! It ’s hard to ignore the Indian pastries on display under the cash or the never ending line of take-out customers. One woman even brought her own serving plates for the pastries, which, by the way, are 50 cents a piece or so. My favorite (we took some home to sample) is the mini donut, filled with some kind of cream or paste, which looks like a miniature Mille-Feuille.
Dinner for two including tax and two soft drinks was $18.50. You can’t beat that! If you can, I’d like to hear about it!
“All is well” on St. Viateur
by Luigi De Marco
In Montreal, it’s difficult to walk more than two blocks without finding an Italian restaurant. Tutto Bene (all is well), located at 120 St. Viateur in the Plateau lives up to its name.
Walking in, the steaming hot pizzas coming out of a traditional wood-burning oven caught my eye. The smell of olive oil and garlic was in the air.
Beautiful Italian picture frames and pottery adorn the walls and stovetop. Empty crates of wine and an immense vase full of corks lie in the corner. Empty bottles of wine, signed by the patrons of the restaurant, line the wall.
My parents, my Nonna and I were seated at a table near the oven. In an instant, homemade foccaccia was served. I worked my way down the long list of 25 pizzas and settled on the v esuvio ($12.25): mozzarella, hot peppers, and Italian sausage. My parents ordered the penne alla Gigi ($12.95) and the linguine alle vongole ($15.95). My Nonna, who is skeptical of any food she hasn’t prepared, chose the pannini grigliati con pollo ($9.50.)
We each ordered a garden salad ($5.75) and shared a plate of calamari ($8.95) as an appetizer. The salad was plain, topped with a few slices of tomato, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
The calamari was phenomenal. Breaded with a blend of spices and cooked to perfect texture, it was difficult to share. If you ’re a lover of squid, get your own plate!
After a short wait, the main courses arrived. The penne alla Gigi smelled and tasted exquisite. I had never tried a sauce as rich. Unlike most restaurants, which tend to skimp on the mushrooms and prosciutto, Tutto Bene’s chef gives you an ample amount. My father marveled at the linguine alle vongole. Even my Nonna admitted the food was delicious. Her pannini was packed with fresh chicken, sautéed peppers and melted provolone cheese. It tasted just as good as everything else.
The real winner was the pizza. From the moment I saw it come out of the stove, I knew I would enjoy it. From edge to edge, the pizza was covered in hot peppers – just the way I like it. When I bit into it, I was surprised by the texture of the soft, flaky crust.
I topped the meal off with an espresso ($2.25) and a fantastic piece of tiramisu ($5.95) made by the owner’s mother. Tutto Bene is a great bet for anyone looking for an authentic taste of Italy.