The $5 Takeout Meal in Montreal Receiving Rave Reviews
Written by Karen Burshtein
Drogheria Fine in Montreal’s Mile End serves one thing: homemade gnocchi with a homemade tomato sauce. One menu item, one price: $5. You can add pepper flakes and extra Pecorino Romano to the already generous serving of cheese for an extra dollar.
What’s the story behind this tiny takeout window’s big success? 11 years ago, Franco Gattuso opened the space as a tomato sauce factory making his Calabrian grandmother’s five ingredient tomato sauce.
“We still consider ourselves a tomato sauce factory,” says Franco’s daughter Sarah (who runs the space with her father, her sister Victoria, and Victoria’s boyfriend), “this window and this gnocchi counter were not here at the beginning.”
Several years ago, Sarah says, they were approached by a Montreal Food Tour and asked if their tomato sauce factory could be one of the stops on the tour. Visitors would come by and get a taste of the sauce that already had a cult following in the city. Then her father decided to a little something more with the tomato sauce by using it in a gnocchi dish (also a family favourite for generations).
“It’s easy because since it’s potato it keeps it longer than pasta, and it holds better and it’s just different. There’s no place like this in Montreal. We’re not a restaurant we give no service. You come to the window and get gnocchi,” says Sarah.
The popularity of the tiny storefront selling pillowy gnocchi spread by word of mouth, the old fashioned way. Nonna would be proud.
And speaking of Nonna, without revealing too much of the recipe that has been handed down in the family for generations, Sarah says the secret to the sauce is not just its five sole ingredients which include tomatoes imported from Italy, caramelized onions, and olive oil, but the preparation.
Sarah reveals, “we cook it fresh every day, and we do it low and slow, cooking it and then letting it rest for ten hours to let all the ingredients infuse.”
The takeout portion of gnocchi is so generous and filling (it’s potatoes after all) that many people share a box.
Be prepared for a line – rain, sleet, or sun. The little shop is making up part of a takeout food hub that draws people in from across the city and visitors from out of town. It’s located next to the celebrated Fairmount Bagel shop and the cult seasonal gourmet ice cream stop KemCoba. Gnocchi, bagels and ice cream. All anyone needs to be happy!