Westmount is all set to welcome a new specialty pasta shop next month — and it’s the brainchild of a pair of restaurant workers with years of experience dishing out the Italian staple at some of the city’s most lauded fine dining destinations.
The Victoria Avenue newcomer, called Paradiso, will serve up a rotation of ready-to-cook pastas — hand-rolled, extruded, and stuffed; both classic and creative — and sauces to pair them with. At lunchtime, they’ll cook one single shape of their choice, and a few sauces to slather it in, for a decidedly uncomplicated neighbourhood takeout offering.
The project comes from first-time business owners Kira German, former chef de cuisine at Griffintown mainstay Nora Gray, recognized by many for serving up some of the finest plates of pasta the city has to offer, and Will Weston, who brings with him lots of experience from the kitchens of several Joe Beef group restaurants. The couple met, however, before all of that, at NDG fixture Monkland Tavern, where they got their start making, what else but, pasta.
“We don’t have the traditional back story that a lot of people do with pasta. Neither Will nor I are Italian, so we don’t have the story of watching our nonna making pasta, as much as we wish we did,” German tells Eater.
But they do have the technical know-how, and, hearing German speak, an unmistakable admiration for the Italian specialty — its inherent versatility, the near-endless possibilities for its shape and filling, and the way in which she becomes willfully enveloped in the process of turning mounds of flour into individually crafted morsels of dough. “It’s just such a beautiful thing to do, the way it keeps your hands busy,” German says.
German says Paradiso allows the pair to commit even more fully to this specialization, before throwing themselves head-first into opening a full-blown restaurant and navigating all the mechanics that go with it — something she clarifies isn’t out of the question in the future, but also not solidly in the plans. “But I feel like this how it goes. You start with one place and then another, and another. No?”
Looking to German’s career, it seems she may already be on that trajectory. At the start of the pandemic she and another Nora Gray alum Alex Henderson launched E Brodo, a pasta pop-up held at several local bars and restaurants. “It was during a very dim time for the industry in general and a lot of people lost the love for what they were doing. We just really wanted to have a fun way to cook again,” German says, explaining how that project got its start.
With Paradiso, the idea is for something more consistent, a reason to fashion piles of tortellini, orecchiette, tagliatelle, or whatever it may be, day in and day out: “I truly just want to spend as much time as I can focusing on the pasta,” German explains. And, now the owner of her own business, it’ll be up to her when to — perhaps begrudgingly — peel her hands away from that dough every now and again.
Paradiso is slated to open at 344 Victoria Avenue in September 2021.