Longtime observers of Lesley Chesterman's columns and social media missives know that the Gazette critic lives in Town of Mount Royal, a neighbourhood somewhat bereft in the restaurant department. Chesterman has lamented this fact for ages, and doubles down on the grievance in her latest review today: "Last reviewed in these pages in 2008, Villa Armando is one of T.M.R.’s few restaurants and only fine-dining option. As a T.M.R. resident resigned to the fact that Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Verdun and possibly even the moon have far more interesting restaurant scenes than my neighbourhood does, it’s nice to know Villa Armando is there to scoop up a somewhat captive dining audience as well as gelato lovers at the ice cream shop next door."
The first time Chesterman wrote up the traditional, long in the tooth restaurant from chef Armando Risa, the tone was similar. "Outremont, Pointe Claire and even Westmount have greater gourmet cred than T.M.R. And with its bistros, catering shops and bakeries, Verdun's Wellington St. looks like the Champs Elysées next to T.M.R.'s dismal town centre," Chesterman griped in 2008.
Unfortunately, after her meal at Villa Armando, the critic is probably less bullish about her neighbourhood's restaurant prospects than ever. It all gets off to a decent enough start with a nice antipasto plate and Caesar salad, and a good seafood linguine. A plate of veal with veg is depressingly described as "very 1984", however, and a lasagna is an unmitigated mess. "This lasagna was dead — so much so that I sent it back. The next version was worse."
Dessert is provided gratis, but only a cannoli fails to disappoint. Competent service, and agreeable atmosphere cannot undo the bad food at Villa Armando. One and a half stars on four, a star down from Chesterman's last review of the restaurant. All told, this is the roughest write-up from the Gazette critic since this disaster.