Apr 14, 2011

Osteria Venti – a dream comes true on April 15th!

by Andrea Doucet Donida

How often do you see somebody’s lifelong dream come true before your eyes? First of a three-part tale, you are about to witness the birth of such a dream in the form of a restaurant opening.

Chef Michele Forgione a few days before opening!

This is the story of Chef Michele Forgione from Montreal. Like many that make up the social fabric of this cosmopolitan city, he brings to it the flavor of his foreign origins. His family came from the Napoli region of Italy. As a young boy, he had the good fortune of spending many of his summers in one of the most captivating environments, the Costa Amalfitana: stuck between the ocean and lemon trees. Michele learned then that good Italian food is made of great products and simple cooking.

Later, he decided to go to culinary school in Montreal at St-Pius where he discovered his talent for pastry under the watchful eye of his teacher Lesley Chesterman (the very well-known food critic of the Gazette). He then pursued pastry at the ITHQ cooking school and worked for Chef Claude Pelletier at Mediterraneo and with Bertrand Bazin of the private Club 357C, one of the best pastry chefs in Montreal.

Michele then went back to cooking as a Executive Chef at Verses, Hôtel Le Crystal, Masterpiece, Hôtel Loews and Koko. Over seven years he has formed a multicultural dream team around him with Paulo Posada (El Salvador), Ryan Montminy (Montreal) and Takeshi Horinoue (Japan) that have joined him in most of his work places, a rare occurrence in the restaurant business, giving them a solid and strong advantage.

From left to right: Takeshi, Paulo, Michele, Ryan.

Together they have started developing their restaurant project and concept, testing recipes whenever they could. They even had chosen the name for their future restaurant long before it became a reality: Venti, to represent the 20 regions of Italy.

Their concept is almost a revolutionary one for Montreal’s Italian restaurant scene, mostly concentrated on southern Italian cuisine unfortunately often tainted by heavy North American influences (there are beautiful exceptions to this like Graziella in Old Montreal, a modern breath of fresh air from Northern Italy). Michele motto is: “Eat Better, Cook Simpler”.

His objective is to bring to Montreal the depth and richness of all twenty regions of Italy with a rustic feel and in relaxed atmosphere. It is an Osteria after all. One of the original ideas is that all pasta will be hand made by them, even spaghetti! So no “al-dente” pasta on the menu, only fresh, soft and silky pasta will be served with unexpected yet simple seasonal sauces. I personally cannot wait to taste the Pallote or the fresh pea-filled raviolis!

The Arco "pasta machine" to make fresh pasta

The beautiful pasta molds, made of 100% bronze

With time, we should also be seeing his own salumi slowly aging in the glass wine cellar, right at the entrance of his new restaurant.

Indeed, he finally found the partner he needed to make this restaurant dream a reality. Osteria Venti is opening this Friday, April 15th. I will be there to witness this dream come true for Michele and his teammates and report back to you on the food they have created for us.

Osteria Venti opens on April 15th 2011.

Follow me on Twitter! @AndreaDDonida

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