We had just visited the Biodôme, and the four of us started to get hungry for lunch. We were going to drive back to Gatineau right after, and I had to drop my brother at his partner’s place along the way. We left the Olympic Complex and made our way towards Villeray, hoping to be inspired by a passing location.
After driving by many uninspiring places, we finally found a spot that seemed great for lunch – the New Rivoli.
It had big open windows, there was nobody in the dining room, and it seemed like a well established location.
In fact, the Rivoli restaurant opened in 1956, right under the Rivoli Theater, a the corner of St-Denis and Bélanger. In the sixties, the restaurant moved beside another movie theater, Le Château on St-Denis, and change it’s name to New Rivoli Pizzeria.
The restaurant moved to its current location on St-Hubert in the eighties, and has kept the same phone number for over 50 years – a must considering that a lot of its business comes from their delivery services. In fact, the location is keeping with the times and you can order via JustEat, and even print some coupons.
As I said, the place was empty. It was past lunch time Saturday afternoon, the weather was dodgy – rain was coming and it was windy – and this is not exactly downtown. But no restaurant stays open for over 50 years by serving bad food, so we walked in with confidence and set up right by the window.
Despite the fact that the dining room is a small 30 seater, the place had obviously been renovated not that long ago.
Dark wood chairs and a nice hardwood floor gives the place a warm, comforting feeling. The tables aren’t that great, with that faux-granite feel, but they were in very good shape.
If you headed towards the back, you could go behind nice wood and glass doors to find the bar area, with air conditioning and slot machines – there was a few customers there.
The New Rivoli’s menu is typical of this kind of establishment. A few pasta dishes (Spaghetti, Rigatoni, Fettuccini, Lasagna, Tortellini), a few salads, a few sole and shrimp dishes, a few sandwiches including 5 different types of double-deckers, 7 subs and 4 burgers, and of course classics like chicken wings and poutines. Rivoli also has a Greek Specialty section, offering Souvlaki, Gyros and Brochettes, perhaps betraying the origin.
But what we really wanted was pizza. It seemed like the thing to do in a pizzeria.
Rivoli offers 16 types of different pre-set pies, in 6 different formats. On top of the usual classics, there was a few intriguing selections, including two Greek versions (vegetarian or with gyros), a Super Stock (mushrooms, green peppers, pepperoni, Italian sausage, bacon and smoked meat) and a Pizzaghetti (like it was meant to be!) But no one else felt adventurous, and we settled for a Large All Dressed (Pepperoni, Mushrooms, Green Peppers – $18.95) with a large side of French Fries ($3.99). Rivoli says that a large has 8 pieces and should feed 3 people, so I figured that with the fries, we should have enough for 3½.
The French Fries arrived first, fairly quickly. A big serving, it would be enough to complement our pizza – as long as the pizza arrived in time.
They were obviously right out of the fryer, as they were piping hot. They were a little pale, however, and kind of bland – they didn’t really taste like anything. They hadn’t been seasoned at all, so we had to salt them a little. On the plus side, the fries were crispy.
We kept nibbling at the fries, waiting for our pizza. It arrived a couple of minutes later.
It looked good. The mozzarella was nicely caramelized, a great golden colour. There was plenty of green peppers on top, with a slight hint of char on them.
The result was decent. The green peppers had kept a fresh crunchiness without being raw. There was plenty of mushrooms, which were good enough. The pepperoni was also there, not too salty. The layer of cheese was respectable, the crust was a classic, buttery crust. The biggest downside, really, was the tomato sauce, which was very bland – it didn’t add a lot of flavour to the pizza and it felt that it was mostly there for texture, or because it had to be there.
In the end, it wasn’t a bad pizza – the portion was just right for our party. If you are in the area, and you are looking for food, you could do much worse than the New Rivoli.