Dépanneur Alescio is located on the stately Outremont stretch of Van Horne, at the foot of the hill leading up to Côte-des-Neiges. The store is in the heart of the main drag of Lower Outremont at the corner of Davaar, a neighbourhood with a mix of four-storey walk-ups and tree-lined side streets with the more spacious variety of Montreal duplex.
Walk through the door at 1607 Van Horne and you will likely hear a lively conversation in Italian coming from behind the counter. When we visited, Michel, Maria and Rosalba Alescio were happy to talk about their family business. They have been in Montreal for over four decades and have owned the building for much of that time. In 2003, they opened the dépanneur. Last year, they doubled the floor space, and have filled the extra square feet with Italian-inspired snacks and fresh food that could rival a full-fledged grocery.
The clean, clutter-free establishment is yet another example of a dépanneur that goes beyond the basics. There is a large fridge with a mix of Italian cold cuts and cured meats, as well as organic ground pork and beef and artisanal sausages from Quebec. A freezer section contains the more top-shelf varieties of frozen sausages, seafood, veggies and prepared meals. In the centre of the well-lit space is an open fridge with fruits, vegetables and a selection of cheeses from Quebec, France and Italy. Word to the wise: $5 tax in will net you a ciabatta sandwich with capocollo, provolone, tomato and lettuce, homemade with the products sold in the store. Dry stores include fancy imported European cookies and a stack of elegantly wrapped panettone on a back shelf, among many other fineries. For beer, they have a substantial selection of local craft products as well as imports.
Next time you’re on the blue line, the 161 bus or cutting through by car from East to West, stop by Dépanneur Alescio. You’ll find a lunch worthy of many Italian cafés and restaurants waiting for you, and friendly service to boot. ■