This weekend was unseasonably warm and precipitation free. This respite from winter weather enticed me (and most Montrealers) to venture out in the city, for the sole purpose of just being outside. It brought to mind Baudelaire's 'flâneur'; the art of strolling down city streets with no agenda, watching people go by. We steered clear of St. Catherine street and all the St. Patty's activities that were going on, since we had little interest in having our peaceful day intruded on by loud drunken crowds, choosing instead to take in St. Denis street and all its cafes, shops and fellow Montrealers walking their dogs. It was bliss.
Before our afternoon of aimless strolling, we decided to grab a quick bite for lunch. Ever since I read the review of L’Artisan Piadineria in the Montreal Gazette I have been itching to try their sandwiches, so it seemed like as good an opportunity as any to try it out.
I ordered the Prosciutto, stracchino and arugula piadina (with a limonata), and Marc ordered the Capicolo, Gorganzola & iceburg lettuce. Preparation took about 5-10 minutes, with 2 people already being served in front of us. We watched as the flat bread dough was pressed through a machine to flatten it out and then it was lightly grilled on a flat top. The 3 toppings, in my opinion, were applied in just the right amount without being excessive. I never imagined that Prosciutto, stracchino and arugula would balance so well together! You could taste all the ingredients equally without one single taste being too heavy-handed. It was a great use of stracchino, which I've only had previously with crostini and honey (also delicious). Also worth mentioning is that the ingredients were the epitome of fresh. Marc said he really enjoyed his capicolo version as well, saying that the blue cheese was utilized in just the right amount so as not to be too overwhelming.
I do think the 9.49 price tag is a bit steep, but as long as the quality of the ingredients stay this good, I'm willing to pay for it. The Prosciutto, stracchino and other ingredients are imported, and you can tell by the taste that they are better than your average sandwich shop quality. The portion size is good, it's enough to satisfy you but not enough to stuff you. Finally, the restaurant is small but clean. Next time I might linger long enough to have (what looked to be) some delicious pastries and an americano; which I guess means I would be employing the French Canadian version of flâner.
Location: L’Artisan Piadineria, 3421 St. Denis St., 514-508-1433.