“It’s moments like this where I wish I had a pancake lens.”, Joey said.
“If you don’t hurry up you’re going to look like a pancake. I can see a car coming.”, David replied.
We were back in Villeray and Joey was sitting in the middle of the street, trying take a picture of Paroisse Saint-Cecile, while David nervously watched for oncoming traffic.
Joey: “Ok, got it!”
David: “Was it really worth almost dying over a picture?”
Joey: “Bro, have a little faith.”
David: “Can we go get coffee now? I’m dying here.”
David was right. It was almost 11AM and we hadn’t had our caffeine fix yet. There was just something about this neighborhood that grabbed our attention. Between its vibrant art murals, tucked-away alleys and quaint shops; Villeray is much like a small village within a big city. We slowly made our way down De Castelneau Street, until we reached Cafe Ferlucci, a small neighborhood cafe with a growing reputation.
Cousins Gianni and Megan are the faces behind Ferlucci. Just two years ago, they converted an abandoned local in the heart of Villeray into what can be described as a modern day Italian cafe. The cousin-duo took the name “Ferlucci” from Gianni’s father’s jean empire from the 80’s. “Many people ask us if Ferlucci is our family name, but it actually isn’t”, Gianni explains. “At the time, we were trying to think of something original. We kept throwing different names back and forth and Ferlucci just stuck. It sounds like a name with history and, ironically, it does have history. Not to mention, it stays true to our roots.” We couldn’t agree more, as the ambiance of the cafe clearly reflects their heritage and style. Ferlucci is part of a new wave of Italian cafes that draws its origins from the traditional Italian espresso-bar. “We wanted to create something that pays tribute to our Italian heritage, while also bringing to light that we were born and raised in Montreal.”, Megan says.
This cultural melange can be easily identified in Ferlucci’s design aesthetic. The cafe is an interesting mix of memorabilia from different eras. Warm and inviting, the space kind of reminds us of a cool Villeray apartment. Scattered throughout the cafe, are several references to Italian culture; such as a large Sofia Loren poster, a framed Al Martino record and a Ferlucci sign depicting Italian actor Antonio Bonocore (also known as Tòtò) holding a toothpick to his mouth. An old badminton racket, a vintage “Connect Four” board game and a wall full of VHS tapes paint a perfect portrait of what it was like growing up in the 80s and 90s. Oh, and for those of you that are too young to know what a VHS tape is, we feel bad for you.
While it should come as no surprise that the cafe is frequented by Villeray locals, Ferlucci actually caters to a variety of customers. Gianni and Megan’s main focus is to create a warm and inviting ambiance where their clients can feel like they are at a home. “We take great pride in knowing that our cafe is a regular hang out for our customers.”, Megan explains. This includes people of all ages and from different parts of the city. In fact, there is a group of ladies in their seventies that come every Thursday afternoon at 1PM to hang out and drink coffee. Apparently, they are a fun bunch. Perhaps, we will join them next week.
We took a seat and glanced at Ferlucci’s recently updated menu. They now offer a variety of ciabatta style paninnis to compliment their existing dessert selections. We ordered a tramezzino, which is a common Central Italian snack as well as a grilled cheese croissant. Both were delicious and went perfectly with our coffee. Ferlucci uses a Sicilian coffee roast called Miscela D’Oro. “We tried a lot of different coffees before choosing this one. We wanted something that was high in quality and that could cater to a variety of customers. Miscela D’Oro fit the bill perfectly”, Gianni explains. We could clearly taste the quality in Ferlucci’s coffee. The flavour was intense, smooth and well balanced, leaving us quite impressed.
The personal touch in business is something we need more of today. Cafes are often a reflection of their owners and the neighbourhoods they operate in. This is one of the reasons why Cafe Ferlucci is so appealing. Gianni and Megan have succeeded in creating an Italian cafe that is well-adapted to Montreal culture. This cafe not only pays tribute to their heritage but also to the city they call home. In many ways, Ferlucci is part of a new generation of Italian cafes. We might go as far as saying that it’s the greatest generation, simply because it’s our generation.
David and Joey