Bélanger, near de Normandville, Montreal

Sadly, we could not get a picture of Da Nunzio’s sign, which is gone now, much like the restaurant itself…

The fourth stop in the Bélanger Pizzeria Project (see Belanger Pizzeria post).

Hey, is Nunzio around?: The cook makes his way into the kitchen as we come through the door. The waiter asks “Smoking or non-smoking?” even though there are only two other people in the restaurant, not smoking but sitting in the smoking section. We opt for the non-smoking section because that’s the section with booths... It’s 8:30 p.m. on a Friday night and we just got out of the bar and it seems more like booth-time than table-time.

“So, is that Nunzio?” we ask about the cook. The polite, somewhat shy waiter looks like he’d been standing around all year waiting for someone to ask him about something – anything – other than what the special of the day was. He takes our question as an opportunity to open up... No, the cook is not Nunzio. But a Nunzio does, of course, figure in the history of Da Nunzio.

A little history: Nunzio opened his restaurant back in 1959 and ran it for 26 years before selling it to one of his employees. Ten years after that, the present owners – our waiter and his father – bought it. Nunzio, now an old man, still owns the building, however.

Sign: Attached to the front of a two-storey building, the sign at Da Nunzio (at least part of which is still original, we were told) is beautifully simple. A metal structure juts out from the brick wall to form a sideways V on which blue neon letters spell out DA NUNZIO vertically. Horizontally, in red neon... PIZZA... SPAGHETTI. The sign used to have flashing lights around its perimeter but they were taken down years ago, when Nunzio realized he’d rather be in the kitchen making pizza than up on a ladder changing light bulbs outside in the cold.

Stucco!: The back room is the better of the two rooms at Da Nunzio, featuring iron grillwork around its arched entrance-way, white stucco walls accented with a few exposed red bricks, framed prints of various scenes of Italy, and a bottle of wine and white linen napkins folded into cones on each table.

Judging by the earth-tone colour scheme of the front room, it looks like it was last remodelled in the early to mid 1970’s. Booths in shades of orange and mustard, brown tiles on the walls, clay shingles above the entrance to the kitchen...

Strange bedfellows:
“Okay, so we’ll take a medium all-dressed and a large with capicollo and olives.”
“Would you like some home-made fries with that?”

Phase 2

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