I came to Little Italy in two ways. I lived in Kingston before moving to Montreal, and my barber in Kingston is Italian. His name is Paul. It’s just him in his shop. He always cuts hair in the chair by the window, and there are four barber’s chairs. The other three are never used. There’s often a lineup way into the back of the shop where people sit and look at hockey magazines or at Italian soccer calendars on the wall in front of them.
When I told Paul about my move he told me the name of a barber shop in Little Italy and who to ask for just the right haircut. At Vincent and Mimmo you get a good haircut with conversation in English, Italian and French. The place is lively with both women and men, and everyone checks everyone else out. There are lots of mirrors.
After a haircut, during my first year in Montreal, I always felt good because I had very little social contact when I first arrived. In a good mood, I discovered ‘Milano’, the Italian food store on St. Laurent (my friend thought it said ‘Moilano’ because of the fancy script).
Milano is big for its location and somewhat luxurious, specializing in fresh pasta, olives, deli meats and all kinds of cheese. Next to Milano is a dry good store. I stocked up here before I headed to Northern Quebec for field work. Stock up on bulk foods from nuts to tea to biscuit and cookie mixes.
On past Dante and Mozart streets you’ll find a Multimags and then around the corner is Jean Talon market where, after a haircut and a hike, a snack and coffee are usually in order. At the end of the summer you can see the happenings of Italian Week, and they shut down a section of St. Laurent to show off music, automobiles, scooters, shoes and clothes as well as stalls from different regions of Italy.
The ambience is nice and you can wander down a side street, towards Dante park, where the sculptor Balboni left a sculpture of Dante in a little tree-filled square. Then you can get a piece of pizza and a cappuccino, sit and take in the late summer heat.
The second way I came to this place was from my place in Villeray where I’ve lived now with my two cats for almost four years.
Photo by Mary Melfi (http://www.italyrevisited.org/photo/Little_Italy/page8)