114 Montcalm St., Gatineau (Hull sector), 819-525-4505, lasquadra.ca
Open: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday, Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 4 to 11 p.m., Sunday 4 to 10 p.m.
Prices: starters $7 to $28, pizza $16 to $20, pasta $18 to $23, mains $26 to $40
Access: no steps to front door or washrooms
It’s always nice when a restaurant pops up out of nowhere, instead of replacing an eatery that ran its course. So it is with La Squadra, an Italian restaurant in Gatineau’s Hull sector that open six months ago on the ground floor of a new condo building.
La Squadra is a modern, sleekly attractive place that seats more than 100 people and is flanked by a long stretch of windows. It consists of a good-sized bar area, and a larger dining space of cushy seats and hard, dark surfaces, all with eye-catching lighting and black ductwork overhead.
At the back of the room, La Squadra’s wines are proudly on display, which makes sense given that the restaurant’s owner is Benoit Desjardins, a sommelier, wine columnist at the Outaouais radio station 104.7 FM and owner of the more casual Gatineau restaurant and wine bar Pizzédelic. At La Squadra, Desjardins’ list that goes with the collection is long, and heaviest on Italian reds, although other countries are represented.
During my two dinners at La Squadra, the dishes emerging from the kitchen, overseen by chef Giuseppe Bastone, have been unadulterated or lightly tweaked Italian staples. They’ve also ranged widely in quality, and many strike me as overpriced.
Among the appetizers we’ve tried, the properly seasoned fried calamari ($14), nicely sauced three-meat meatballs ($10) and tender, marinated and grilled octopus ($19) were well-made and enjoyable, although a bit more effort and attention to detail would have been welcome with the last dish — its white beans were mushy, and grilling the cherry tomatoes would have been a nice move.