The food critic for the Gazette is smitten by a family-friendly pizzeria this week. NDG's Melrose, on Sherbrooke Ouest between Melrose and Wilson, made a splash last summer when it opened with a free pizza giveaway. The inaugural review for the restaurant from Brasserie Central partners Eric Dénommée, Paolo Oliveira, and Didier Housseaux, however, was less than flattering. In one of 2015's harshest critical takes, Marie-Claude Lortie observed in La Presse that Melrose's pizzas were nothing to write home about, and that, sadly, for the time being, she wouldn't be returning for another meal.
Lesley Chesterman's experience at Melrose is considerably better. The critic enjoys the “friendly-rambunctious-electric ambiance”, the digs, and the service, particularly from Oliviera, who hobnobs with regulars, and commands the crowded room with aplomb. While Lortie faulted Melrose for its less than avant-garde wine list, Chesterman credits the restaurant for embracing its uncomplicated identity. “The wine list has been criticized for being too commercial, but who cares? The bottles are all good, smartly chosen and certainly well priced.”
Melrose offers a tidy list of apps, ten pizzas, and some daily specials. Chesterman samples the likes of a fennel and orange salad, grilled endives with blue cheese and prosciutto, braised artichokes, and braised calamari in tomato sauce. This assessment of the endive dish sums up the starters: “Nothing mind-blowing, but delicious nonetheless.” On to the restaurant's raison d'être. For Lortie the pizza verdict was borderline meh, but Chesterman has the opposite reaction. “What gorgeous pizzas!,” the critic declares. Three hit the table: a white pizza with rapini, soppressata, garlic slices, and mozzarella; a red sauce pizza with saucisson, and mozzarella; and the house specialty, a veal meatball pizza. “All good.”
Keep it simple for dessert, Chesterman suggests, and order the mascarpone cream with a short espresso. Melrose ultimately earns a very respectable three stars on four from Chesterman. “[I]t’s nice to see a simple neighbourhood resto doing this well, based on nothing more than good food and friendly service,” the critic concludes.