You’re leaving Korova/Bside/Bluedog/Muzique/Jukebox/[insert name of club]. You’re on the stretch of St. Laurent between Prince Arthur and Duluth, and you’re hungry. You’ve danced/laughed/cried/warded off creeps, and the time has come to recharge. You grab your friends, and since you’ve dismissed 2 dollar chow mein since the price hike to $3, pizza is what’s on the menu.
Oh pizza, the light of any drunk person’s life. No matter what went wrong on your venture out to the clubs of St. Laurent tonight, pizza will always be there for you. The unbeatable combination of dough, tomato sauce, and cheese will not only reduce the severity of tomorrow’s hangover, but will fill your stomach and your heart.
Along this glorious stretch of The Main, there is a veritable pantheon of neon-lit, middle-aged-man-run, very far from Italian pizza places. They vary quite a lot in quality and very little in price, so sometimes that extra half-block will make all the difference to the satisfaction of your craving.
During my time in Montreal, I’ve 1 am-visited the best two–Pizza Madona and Pizza Giovan– more times than I can count. I also recently visited both Madona and Giovan as a laid-back weekday dinner to get a sense of what they’re like for sober taste buds. I went right for the cheese slice– no poutine tonight, no soda, nothing. This is just about the pizza. Both places will charge $2.25 for a cheese slice, and both are run by friendly staff that have the patience of gods for dealing with so many drunk students at all hours. Who will win the battle of the Drunk Pizza Havens?
Pizza: The nice, hefty slice that was given to me was a bit shiny with pizza grease and very cheesy, nice and stringy like in The Weekenders. It could have used a bit more sauce, but what was there was tangy and wonderful. The crust also could have been a bit thicker and chewier for my taste, but the crispiness was enjoyable. I left some crust behind because it was a bit too crunchy.
Condiment choices: For dipping/topping your slice, Pizza Madona offers a thick, spicy marinara-like sauce, mayo, ketchup, and chili flakes. I went for chili flakes and spicy marinara for my crust.
Atmosphere: Pretty hilarious– old posters (Shania Twain and Marilyn Monroe alike), gratuitous pictures of pizza and the Madona logo, and a TV screen constantly playing a soap opera all contribute to an atmosphere about as scattered and unbalanced as you are when you walk in at 2am.
Pizza: The medium-sized slice that I was given was also truly delicious. It had a thick, chewy crust that was nice and soft, lots of slightly charred but stringy cheese, and a very balanced-tasting sauce. My only complaint is that, like at Pizza Madona, the sauce could have been a bit more abundant. I finished the pizza from tip to crumbs.
Condiment Choices: This is the best thing about Pizza Giovan. Not only do they have chili flakes and ketchup, but they also have oregano, hot sauce, salt and pepper, and most deliciously, ranch dressing for crust dipping. The ranch is perfect.
Atmosphere: Fluorescent and somewhat barren, with just the bare bones of what it needs– some tables, the counter, the display box, the specials board, and a wall of advertisements. Despite this, on more than one occasion, the whole restaurant full of drunk people has broke out into song. I’m not even kidding. Maybe it’s just my friends.
The verdict: Pizza Madona‘s slices may photograph better, but I’m gonna say that Giovan is the winner of this glorious fight. The subtle improvements in taste and topping options have always given me that little extra bit of joy.
I give Pizza Madona a 4/5, and Pizza Giovan 4.5/5.
It’s a close battle, one I’ve been happy to judge. Both options will complete your walk home, and chances are that you won’t notice much of a difference if you’re stumbling home from a long night on The Main, but since I’ve been asked to crown a winner, it’s gotta be Giovan.
Pizza Madona is located at 3605, boul Saint-Laurent (right by bside, Balroom, Biftek, and others)