Lesley Chesterman saunters over to Old Montreal this week to try another MTL Cuisine project: "Created and operated by Gian Paolo De Riggi and his father, Agostino De Riggi, in partnership with restaurateur Jorge da Silva of the Mtl Cuisine group, Nolana is in the former long and narrow locale (a former lunch counter) of restaurant Racines, which closed last August after only nine months. I wasn’t wild about Racines’ cuisine, but I loved the decor, created by none other than new partner Agostino De Riggi, who is also responsible for the look of all Mtl Cuisine group’s restaurants."
On to the menu, which ranges from small apps and salads to pizzas and pastas. Chesterman praises Nolana's wine list as excellent and, for starters, most enjoys eggplant involtini ("perfectly scarfable"), a "textbook" meatball and a fennel and citrus salad. Pizza is the star of the show at Nolana and here the restaurant also performs well. The critic calls a classic margherita, a porchetta pizza and a pizza with sausage, 'nduja and ricotta "terrific." There's no let up when a dish of ravioli with rabbit, escarole, olives, mozzarella and porcini hits the table: "With a few sips of Chianti … how sensual."
Chesterman thinks most people will lap up Nolana's Nutella marshmallow pizza. The bombolone? Sure to be a hit with kids. The deconstructed cannoli, however, is the critic's favourite of the bunch. The final verdict on Nolana from the Montreal Gazette: a solid 'good bet.'