The food critic for La Presse saunters over to Melrose, a new pizzeria in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, full of hope this week. In Marie-Claude Lortie's opinion, the 'hood is less blessed with quality restaurants than the Plateau, or Old Montreal. A good pizzeria, from the same partners behind Westmount's Brasserie Central, no less, could help turn the tide.
Alas, Lortie's desires for ethereal Neapolitan-style pizza, and a good glass of vino, are dashed. Melrose falls short of the mark, in more ways than one. The décor is textbook, and predictable, asserts the critic. This is not necessarily bad, but Melrose reminds her of restaurants in Mile End, Brooklyn, or Shoreditch, in London's East End. Still, Lortie feels comfortable in the space, even after she remarks that the restaurant's suspended plants are still in plastic nursery pots.
Melrose originally described itself as a pizzeria and wine bar on Facebook, though the latter seems to have been dropped. Lortie may have a theory as to why: "C'est quand la carte de vins arrive que les premiers signaux d'alarme se déclenchent. Kim Crawford, Liberty School, de grands succès commerciaux, industriels, qu'on s'attend plus à voir dans une chaine de pizzerias américaine que dans un petit restaurant de quartier à l'allure indépendante."
So the restaurant's not stocked with cult private imports. How's the food? In a word: meh. Starters like a fennel and red onion salad, marinated salmon with zucchini and yogurt, and grilled cauliflower, fail to move Lortie much. But pizza's obviously the draw at Melrose, so the critic cuts the kitchen some slack. Dommage. "Côté pizzas - la spécialité du lieu -, on ne parle pas de succès foudroyant non plus." Of three sampled, only one, a pizza with aubergine, almonds, mint, and lemon, holds Lortie's interest. The best dish of the lot, incredibly, turns out to be Melrose's take on Nutella pizza. A sweet finish, but not enough to salvage the meal. Would Marie-Claude Lortie return to Pizzeria Melrose? "Malheureusement, non, pas pour le moment." It is arguably the La Presse critic's harshest review of 2015.