The slow decline of Le Latini, a restaurant that was, at one time, the crème de la crème of Downtown Montreal, will come to a merciful end on September 12. The property, most recently evaluated at over $6.4 million by the city, has been sold to developers. A spokesperson could not confirm what the future holds for the restaurant or the land it sits on. Joao Mendes is still listed as the owner. "We may open another Latini somewhere else in the future. The sale made sense because the land was more valuable than the restaurant."
Once noted wine merchant Moreno de Marchi sold Le Latini in 2010 after more than three decades at the helm, the restaurant fell out of fashion with critics and customers alike. A one-star review from Gazette critic Lesley Chesterman in 2012 was akin to a death knell. "The Latini without de Marchi is like Milos without Costas Spiliadis, Moishes without Lenny Lighter or Café Ferreira without Carlos Ferreira. These gentlemen are some of the city's best restaurateurs, and to me, their restaurants without their presence is unimaginable. So, I wondered, what was the Latini like now?"
Chesterman went on the conclude: "It might seem brutal to drop a bomb on a Montreal institution like Le Latini, but at a time when we're seeing a real surge in Italian restaurants like Graziella, Venti and Hostaria, experiencing this kind of mediocrity at such inflated prices is ridiculous."
The most immediate question on the minds of many Le Latini observers now hinges on the restaurant's world-class wine cellar. It holds a monumental 35,000 bottles, all exclusively Italian private imports. The spokesperson for Le Latini asserts that the fate of the cellar is up in the air: "The bottles will go into storage for now. We may auction some off. But we may open another restaurant too so no firm decision has been made."