Montreal's Porco family is all about pizza. Patriarch Francesco Porco came to Montreal from Italy with his wife and son in 1965. Five years later he opened Como pizzeria in the off-island suburb of La Prairie. Half a century later, Porco's sons and grandsons manage the original Como and a sister restaurant in Delson.
Now all that South Shore pizza knowhow is about to come to the city proper, as Cuisine Pronto prepares to open at 2025 Mont-Royal Est, corner de Lorimier, in the former La Boîte à Coiffer. The Plateau restaurant's principal, Paolo Porco, is the grandson of Francesco Porco, and has two decades of Como pizza experience under his belt. Porco expects to open sometime this month.
In 2012 Susan Semenak wrote about old school Montreal pizza for the Gazette, and Como and the Porco family in particular.
Across the bridge in Laprairie, on the South Shore, the founder of Como Pizzeria is 83 years old and retired. But Francesco Porco's all-dressed pizzas live on in the hands of his sons Robby and Joseph and his grandsons Dominic and Paolo. The beautifully blistered crusts are just as soft and flaky as ever. (The regulars are known to save them for last, to smear with butter as if they were croissants.)
The teeny pizzeria Porco opened in the late '60s has morphed into a two-restaurant business, with locations in La Prairie and Delson, more than 400 seats in all, and 34 delivery cars on the road most Saturday nights.
Robert Porco says he doesn't know how long the old-style pizzerias will survive. It's a gruelling business. Newcomers incur exorbitant expenses buying ovens, fridges and furniture. There's fierce competition from the chains.
"My dad and uncle started with nothing. But today you need a fortune to open a business," he said. "And nobody wants to put in the kind of hours the early generation did.
"My dad had two days off a year. He worked from 2 in the afternoon until 3 or 4 in the morning until he was 65 years old."