Brett happens

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The Schwartza as miracle fruit

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The Schwartza is the flagship pizza of Jane, a down-home Italian resto/upscale pizzaria on Notre Dame a few blocks west of Guy. Topped with mustard sauce, smoked meat, dill pickle slices and a surfeit of cheese, the pie manages to be true to both its Montreal Italian and Montreal Jewish heritages. It shouldn’t work but somehow it does (this from someone who wouldn’t go out of his way for a smoked meat sandwich and who has never recovered from a traumatic childhood experience with deli-style pickles). That said, I suspect that, for me at least, once is enough, especially when the resto’s other pizza toppings beckon. Also, at $24 it’s pricey. Then again, the two of us couldn’t quite polish it off.

What wine goes with a Schwartza? Glancing through the list, we spotted a 2009 Langhe Nebbiolo that turned out to be from Produttori del Barbaresco ($50 at the restaurant, $22.85 at the SAQ – 11383617 – though good luck finding any at the monopoly at this late date). Without much forethought, we ordered it, and a good thing we did. Delicious and food friendly, albeit a little tight, it paired well enough with our starters of meatballs and panzanella. But with the pizza, it bloomed: the cheese softened the tannins, while the mustard and pickles sweetened the fruit – a transformation so radical, it was like we’d chewed a miracle berry before sipping the wine. And what about that fruit? Black cherry, the go-to flavour for smoked meat. A match as definitive as it was fortuitous.

The restaurant itself is a pleasant space: a storefront in an old building with high ceilings, wood floors and tables and a warm glow. The menu and wine list are chalked on blackboards. The list is about 40 wines long, and many are available by the glass. Incredibly, only the appellation/grape variety and price are listed; the producer’s name is nowhere in sight. What’s more, when I asked our waiter who made the Langhe we had our eye on, he had no idea. What a joke!

The food was decent and sometimes a little more. The meatballs were close to perfect: tender, moist, cohesive, mild yet savoury, and unfortunately oversalted. The tomato sauce was a delicious foil. If you set aside any notions of the classic dish, the panzanella was tasty enough – arugula, tomato, bell pepper and red onion, dressed with a mild vinaigrette and generously sprinkled with parmesan – but it lost points for the prefab croutons and drizzle of sweet balsamic vinegar. Dinner for the two of us, including wine, two espressos, taxes and tip was $140.

Written by carswell

March 21, 2012 at 11:50

3 Responses

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  1. […] first happened in March of 2012 at the now-defunct Jane. And it happened again the other night at Orange […]

  2. […] Schwartza as miracle fruit-like moment here. Spurred by a rave about the pairing from occasional commenter Thomas, I served […]

    Transformer | Brett happens

    September 3, 2015 at 12:47

  3. […] programming (the 2011) – Tasting with Aldo Vacca – Nebbiolo and quail (the 2010 + recipe) – The Schwartza as miracle fruit (the […]

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