I’ve wondered what sets Peruvian cuisine apart from other South American dining options. When I was invited to check out the family-owned and newly re-opened Peruvian-Italian restaurant, Les Deux Fours, in the Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension borough, my curiosity peaked and I jumped on the opportunity. Fortunately, unlike many other North American metropolises, crisscrossing Montreal is generally quite easy in the evening. This venue was only 20 minutes from Cavendish Blvd. in the West End, about the same as driving downtown.
Les Deux Fours has been around since 2004, but with the pandemic forcing the shuttering of restaurants for a long stretch, owner Filo Briones decided to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunity by renovating the locale. The new decor emphasizes the Peruvian style in colour and material such as the wood-paneled arches across the ceiling, the straw-covered overhead lamps and Spanish-influenced tiling. While the staff is new too, the dishes follow Filo’s traditional experience in bringing the tastes of his native Peru to Montreal, mixed with his love of the flavours of Italy.
The name, Les Deux Fours, is derived from the restaurant’s emblematic ovens, one for baking pizza and the other for broiling chicken.
My friend Phil and I were greeted by the friendly smile of Selma, who moved to Montreal from Morocco 10 years ago. With a digital order pad slung over her shoulder, she informed us of our options and the most popular dishes. A few taps on her screen and our appetizers consisting of house salad and a plate of calamari were dispatched to Chef Charles in the kitchen. That area, at the back of the dining room, was distinguished by a large brick oven with logs ablaze for homemade pizza.
We took in the ambiance of the rejuvenated restaurant and its full bar. We selected a local Unibroue which they had on tap in white, red and blonde. ‘Apps’ included interesting salads, unique poutine with Italian sausage as well as parmesan fries.
The menu is extensive with plenty of options from both featured countries. We decided to cover our bases by selecting the Pizza Della Casa as well as a Peruvian char-broiled half-chicken, also known as pollo a la brasa. Other choices included pasta, calzones and 18 more pizza selections and other chicken options. The homemade Peruvian aguadito soup with chicken and herbs smelled wonderful as Selma delivered two bowls to the next table over.
Our Peruvian chicken was slow-cooked for two hours in their charcoal oven. It was savoury, tender and not too spicy. What was their method of spicing and broiling such an appetizing chicken, I asked the chef. “A family secret,” he responded. There was no divulging how he got this chicken to taste so good. There was plenty to share along with a side salad and heaping portion of fries. And, the taste of oven-fired pizza is unparalleled. We enjoyed every bite.
Charles is a relatively recent Pizzaiolo, or Pizzaman, with only months of experience under his belt. However, he’s a quick learner. We watched him roll and flatten the dough, spread the tomato sauce and sprinkle generous portions of toppings before sliding two pies into the fire. He told us he would soon be ready to toss the dough into the air in preparing his pizza pies. We’ll be back to see that one day!
Already quite full, we couldn’t pass up trying out two of their homemade desserts: the creme brulé and the alfajores. Alfajores are a traditional dulce de leche sandwich cookie found in many Latin American countries, including Argentina, Peru, and Chile. It was a winner, although Selma says the tiramisu is quite popular too.
We noticed several boxes heading out the door as many families in St. Michel, Rosemount and Jarry area order in or pick up from this well-known local restaurant which has been owned by Briones family for the past 17 years. They also deliver. I hope they open a terrasse for the summer months. That would be very popular.