I first met Antoine Zammit when he was a teenager attending Laurier Macdonald High School in St. Léonard. It appeared, even back then, that he had some true entrepreneurial talents. We kept in touch over the years via Facebook and email, but when he decided to open his own restaurant in Anjou he extended an invitation for me to come as a guest and give it a try.
A friend and I did indeed drop by recently to Pasta Presto, a cozy little spot on Boulevard Roi-René right near Highway 40. It located in the spot that formerly housed Il Puntino. There are 50 seats and a small seasonal terrace. Beautiful artwork depicting Italy adorns the walls and on the TV screen, old Frank Sinatra concerts are playing on a loop. There is also free parking on site.
“We really want to give our clients an experience like they are in Italy,” Antoine explained. “We took the concept of the Olive Garden, offering soup, salads and a main course.”
Antoine is by no means a newcomer to the business. His family has owned the popular Dic Ann’s franchise in Anjou for decades. His dad, in fact, has jumped in to assist in this new venture when possible.
Antoine began attracting a following immediately by offering a well-priced menu. You can order from the Table D’Hôte for only $9.95.
We started off our meal by sharing some appetizers: crispy calamari, garlic bread, fried zucchini, escargot, a house salad large enough for two and a serving of meatballs with some delicious creamy rosée sauce. Assisting Antoine in this venture is Aurelie Panier, his devoted fiancée. She can often be found on-site doing everything from greeting diners to waiting tables.
For the main course, Antoine steered me in the direction of the Fettuciné Casa Maré. This is one of the most popular items on the menu. It includes a nice serving of fettucine, combined with shrimp, scallops and mussels topped with red seafood sauce. I very much enjoyed it but having consumed so many appetizers I wisely took a doggy bag which resulted in a terrific lunch for the next day.
My friend had his eye on the lasagna bolognese and was very pleased with his choice.
There were many other items on the menu that I wish to try the next time I visit: the all-dressed Italian nachos, the mozzarella rolls, another form of pasta (spaghetti, rigatoni, linguine, fusilli, gnocchi or ravioli with a different sauce).There are also a variety of chicken dishes, such as chicken piccata and chicken parmigiana. pizzas, submarine sandwiches and desserts.
This is a Bring Your Own Wine establishment, which also pleases the customers greatly.
Antoine’s long term goal is to develop Pasta Presto into a chain, with franchises across the city,
Pasta Presto is located at 7751 Boul. Roi-René in Anjou. It is open from 4 pm to 10 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday and Thursday and Friday from 11 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 10 pm. For reservations call 514-352-8662. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram @pastaprestomtl.