Nostalgia can be defined as a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time. Our parents often tell us stories about the “good old days” when the kids of the neighbourhood would gather in the streets to play stick ball or bathe in an open fire hydrant. We ourselves think back to a time when we would freely roam the streets on our bicycles and stop by our local convenience store (depanneur for our Montreal readers) for a jumbo Mr. Freeze or a Slush Puppy. Some of us reminisce over our college and university days. Each generation closely associates with its social experiences and the period or place where such experiences occurred. We are reminded of a time in our lives when things were much simpler. A few days ago we caught up with some old friends and visited a small neighbourhood cafe that evoked those exact feelings of nostalgia.
It was a bright sunny Saturday morning when the five of us met at Cafe Vito in Villeray. We were joined by Joey’s brother Adam, and our two good friends Manny and Matt. As mentioned in our previous articles, Villeray had become a regular meeting place for our bromance sessions due to its proximity to everything. Many Montrealers have embraced Villeray for its vibrant atmosphere favoured by families, young couples and professionals alike. With its quiet streets, numerous green spaces, shops, local eateries, and its characteristically warm and friendly vibe it’s no surprise we end up visiting time and time again.
Café Vito has established itself as a quintessential coffee pit stop within Villeray’s thriving community. Owner Vito Azzue is no stranger to coffee having worked in the industry for over 25 years. He is now joined by his sons Bryan and Scott, and together they have succeeded in creating a space that oozes with neighbourhood charm. Despite it only having been opened for a few years, it has become an integral part of the neighbourhood; one would think that this spot has been here for decades. Located on the corner of Villeray Street and Casgrain Ave the Cafe has blended into that street corner and it looks as natural there as the large sidewalks and benches that surround it. The angular interior is small but quaint offering seating for just a handful of people. At the back of the room is a counter where either Vito, Bryan or Scott prepare coffee for their numerous customers. A small chalk board sits on the street corner and lists the day’s specials. What stands out the most is the Cafe’s pickup window located on the side of the building (Casgrain Ave). Customers can simply line up and place their order to go.
To remain consistent with previous reviews, we ordered our usual latte-cap combo with no sugar. Vito serves an exclusive Italian coffee blend which is also available for sale directly to the customer. The Cafe also offers bagels, sandwiches, Italian gelato and a variety of other desserts. Overall we were quite impressed with the flavour of the coffee and it helped give us the kick we needed to get our morning conversation started.
As we stood on the sidewalk sipping our coffees we couldn’t help but notice the amount of young couples pushing their children around in expensive strollers. Long gone are the days when we were kids and our parents made do with the cheap plastic strollers they purchased from Zellers. While things have definitely changed over the years, we can agree that this neighbourhood has never lost its charm and that is partially thanks to small local businesses like Cafe Vito. So, if you’re ever in the area make sure to walk by the corner of Villeray Street and Casgrain Ave; you might just find us there telling stories about “the good old days”.
David and Joey