If there’s one thing I love most in the world is the sweet sweet sense of comradery when fellow Montreal motorists band together, hold the line and not let that one jerk cut in line in front of queuing cars at a highway exit. Ok, if there’s another thing I love most in the world is an awesome sandwich.
So what’s your pasta style? Are you a straight up tomato sauce kind of person? Meat sauce? Alfredo? Salad? Or are you like me and like your pasta in a red sauce, but the next day in a sandwich with cold cuts? Strange right? But try it, and you can thank me later! I ask because recently I almost forgot what it was like to eat good pasta. Wait stop, I mean, GOOD pasta – the type of pasta where when you eat it, you’re convinced that the restaurant or chef has some sort of secret supply of pasta. You believe that it’s next to impossible to get pasta like that at home unless you flour up the kitchen, make a mess and make your own; and even then enough of it will stick to everything and your whole process won’t yield more than a biteful… Don’t ask me how I know.
You know that feeling when your nonna gives you a great big hug, then slobbers a smackeroonie on each cheek, her moustache pokes and tickles your face, then she tells you to go get something to eat in the kitchen? No? Not Italian? Neither am I, but I can imagine it. However, the closest thing I can get to this warm fuzzy feeling it is hitting up one of my favourite spots on the edge of Littally (Little Itally – get it? I’m so funny) called Tre Marie.
I was walking back to my car from picking up a wicked beef teriyaki burger from L’entoilage last week and I passed by this small little place that had I not stopped to steal a bite out of my chocolate ship-cranberry cookie, I would have missed it. The place I’m talking about is Pizzeria Magpie. With decorative poster-paint script writing on the windows, you would probably walk past it thinking it’s some barber shop that time forgot and pay no attention to it, unless you notice the sandwich board sitting on the sidewalk advertising a wood-burning oven, unlike me who accidentally kicked it and almost ate the sidewalk.
We eyed the menu and made our decisions though it wasn’t tough as there were only a handful pizza options to pick from. We decided to split the charcuterie plate to start with – as our waitress said that we would easily be able to split it amongst the three of us.
A mix of genoa salami, soppressata, cubes of parmesan, sweet gherkins and stuffed olives. The waitress was right about being able to split it between three people, but she failed to mention that in theory you’d be able to split it among 100 people as well, it’s just a matter of being satisfied. Three is stretching, two would be good. Don’t get me wrong, the cold cuts were great; aged and pungent, was complimented well with everything on the slab.
Most commendable was the fact that they baked their own bread that came with the charcuterie. Well, I would think there’s no excuse NOT to when you’ve got your own wood-burning oven in the place. Thick, crust and chewy, the loaf was drizzled with olive oil, just how I love it. Although I would have liked to see this placed at the table with the water, but it’s not that kind of place.
I ordered the Magpie margherita. Topped with sauce, bocconcini cheese and fresh basil, the pizza was simple and finished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. This plain jane packs a punch, the simplicity is what makes it taste good. The freshness and honesty of the flavors is what stands out, kind of like me, n’est pas?
My friend had the proscuitto, arugula with cherry tomatoes and bocconcini. The saltiness of the ham was a great compliment to the peppiness of the arugula. I don’t know what it is but proscuitto does something to me. Just the sight of it and the anxiousness of knowing I’ll be eating it… my palms get sweaty, my mouth gets, my ability to do math calculations triples and on some molecular level, I’m sure it’s something like what Bruce Banner goes through the same thing before he becomes the Hulk.
My other friend has the three-cheese meatball with mushrooms and mozzerella. The mushroom was nice and roasted giving each bite a nice sweet taste. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was solid and still tasty.
Offered with the pizza, chili flakes and chili oil. If you can handle spice, I highly suggest it; as it adds just a hint of aromatics to your pie.
If you’ve been paying attention, you would have noticed these black funny looking things on the crust of the pizza. These “things” are little hickeys from the result of dough meets wood-fire. It means that the fire got a little cozy with the dough, got it a bit crispy until it couldn’t take it any longer until it erupted with a furious frenzy of wood-burning love.
Like Top Chef says, you need to judge the competence of a chef based on their ability to rock out a good grilled cheese sandwich. It’s often the simple things that are hardest to make. This place uses San Marzano tomatoes exclusively in their sauce – which produces a distinctive sweet flavor in their pies. Pizzeria Magpie has a slim menu, but the few things they do, they do very well. Enhancing the natural flavors of their products, the element of a wood-fired oven is thrown into the equation for bonus points.