Downtown Montreal’s coffee scene just received a boost with Mile End icon Café Olimpico now open.
Its new location opened on Monday on Robert-Bourassa (formerly University Street), just north of Sainte-Catherine. It has set up shop in the former Presbytery behind the (still active) Christ Church Cathedral on the corner, taking over part of what used to be the restaurant Apollo 1333. That same building also houses Italian restaurant Osteria MKT.
What’s on offer? The same solid Italian-style espresso as the St-Viateur Street original, of course, and similar quality should be expected — there’s no franchising going on here, it’s owned and operated by Jonathan Vannelli and Victoria Furfaro. As with the original, a selection of Italian pastries (biscotti, cannoli) are also on offer.
Prices are a fraction more expensive that the Mile End original — an espresso costs $2.50 and a latte or cappuccino at $3.75, 50 and 75 cents more, respectively. But that’s roughly similar to other independent downtown coffee shops (or maybe a fraction cheaper), and hey, downtown rent ain’t cheap.
The space is naturally a bit shinier than Café Olimpico’s nearly 50-year-old Mile End premises, but with a marble and wood-panelled bar, and concrete floors, it’s classy and simple, and not gimmicky.
This is Olimpico’s second expansion, and arguably its most substantial: the café first branched out in 2016 when it opened a small counter in Old Montreal, mostly geared towards clients of the William Gray Hotel. The Robert-Bourassa location is quite a bit bigger, and more prominent, likely catering to a wider crowd.
STATUS — Café Olimpico is open daily at 1333 Robert-Bourassa from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.