Il Bazzali, a new restaurant in Little Italy, has a backstory that diverges from the norm. The 25-seater, which caters and operates as a gourmet boutique, is run by Davide Bazzali. The chef and tenor hosts Pastaopera at Théâtre Rialto. The spin on dinner theatre (see video below) merges a classic Italian five course dinner service with music and opera. "I started as a cook in Italy at the age of 14, 22 years ago. I went to hotel school and only developed my technique as a singer when I came to Montreal. I always sang, I always cooked. Now I've started to do it together and it's working very well. I've been in Montreal for five years now. It's my full time job."
For now Il Bazzali is open for lunch and takeout and closed on weekends. A typical daytime menu includes ten items, all made fresh and in-house, in front of customers. "Some fish, meat, vegetables. Three sandwiches, three different stuffed pastas. Risotto, gnocchi. You choose your sauce." When the city grants the restaurant a liquor permit, Il Bazzali will make a BYOW pivot. Bazzali affirms that the food will become a little more soigné for dinner, with more French influences. Business partner Benoit Leclere is from France and Bazzali has long admired that country's emphasis on discipline and technique in the kitchen. "I always thought something was missing in Italian cuisine. French cuisine is more technical, more derived from chefs. Italian cuisine is soulful, homemade. Italy and France need each other. Our cuisine is based on this and will try to harmonize the two."
The new restaurant has made significant changes to the former Pizza Toscana. "We completely rebuilt the space ourselves. My wife, Kate Puxley, is an artist and taxidermist. We're displaying some of her work. I also have a woodshop and we made everything ourselves for the restaurant. The tables, the counters, we really put a lot of work into it. I'm really, really happy with the result." Bazzali has plans to eventually marry his two passions at the new restaurant. A tribute to Ennio Morricone? Perhaps. "For sure, I can see us doing something like a Spaghetti Western night. Maybe with film projections and a set menu to go with the theme."
Status: Il Bazzali, 285 Beaubien Est, certified open. Monday to Friday for takeout and lunch for now. Wednesday to Sunday BYOW dinner service soon.