Starting today and through Sunday, Little Italy will be serving up regional-inspired cuisine at many of its restaurants, cafés, bakeries and even some shops at the Jean Talon Market. Get a taste of Veneto (one of Italy’s twenty regions with Venice as its capital) at restaurants like upscale Piccola Italia where chef Tony Raneri is preparing Venetian specialties such as: grilled radicchio wrapped in prosciutto, squid ink risotto with calamari, tender calf liver sautéed with onions and braised quail drumsticks on a bed of polenta.

If fancy dining is not your thing, head to Caffé Epoca for very simple, but delicious dishes like parmesan risotto with asparagus or salted cod prepared in their homemade tomato sauce. And if eating out doesn’t float your gondola, you still have molto options: pick up fresh pasta from Pastificio in the Jean-Talon Market, where you’ll find an endless array of pastas, or stop by Motta (a one-stop bakery, pizzeria, Italian grocery, caterer and restaurant) where you’ll find ready-made dishes for your own at-home Venetian evening.

For those with a sweet tooth, make a little trip to 277 Dante where you’ll find the hard-to-pronounce Italian bakery, Pasticceria Alati-Caserta. Getting the name of the place right isn’t an issue since they speak the universal language of love for pastry. This is where I tried my first Venetian cinnamon roll, which is much like our North American version, but with a decadent twist – the pastry chef soaks the raisins in rum! A heady delight with each bite.

For those Montrealers like me, who rarely get up to Little Italy, the Italian Regional Cuisine Week is the perfect opportunity to discover this culturally and gastronomically rich community. And if the rain keeps up you may need to hire your own gondolier to navigate the streets towards Little Italy!

VENETO: Italian Regional Cuisine Week
April 23rd – 29th, 2012
For more info and to disover Little Italy:
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Participating restaurants: Casa Napoli, I Sensi, Primo e Secondo, Piccola Italia, La Fornarina, Da Enrico, Epoca, Casa Cacciatore, Mange boire, Lucca, Le Tartarin (Jean-Talon Market), Inferno, Via Dante and Hostaria.
Participating merchants: Fruiterie Milano (Saturday and Sunday), Fromagerie Hamel (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), Boucherie Capitol, Motta, Pastificio Sacchetto (Jean-Talon Market), Fromagerie Qui lait cru (Jean-Talon Market), Olives et épices (Jean-Talon Market), Les cochons tout ronds (Jean-Talon Market), Havre aux glaces (Jean-Talon Market)