In Italian culture, food and family are practically synonymous. When Ignazio Gentile, a Sicilian native, opened Café Gentile in Montreal’s Saint-Simon neighbourhood in 1959, little did he know he would be establishing a tradition of his own. Nearly 60 years later, his son Anthony’s new pizzeria in Westmount is a modern riff on the family legacy — elevated to fit seamlessly into the city’s burgeoning culinary scene.
While the original restaurant is still in business on Parc Avenue, Westmount’s new Gentile Pizza Parlour marks the family’s third location. Immediately next door, another Café Gentile outpost was opened in 2016. Both of these locations were designed by Atelier Zébulon Perron, who mined the family’s long culinary history to create a vintage-inspired milieu.
At Gentile Pizza Parlour, diners are welcomed with an air of nostalgia before they even step through the door. The restaurant’s distinctive orange and white sign evokes an 80s deco aesthetic, imparting a taste of the ambiance that awaits inside. Atelier Zébulon Perron has expertly translated the brand’s retro flair into a contemporary interior inspired by New York pizzerias of the 1970s and 80s.
Luckily, the space itself already possessed hints of 80s charm. The building’s slatted metal ceiling, originally intended for signage, was resourcefully repurposed with a series of backlit screens, which cast a warm, yet subtle aura over the intimate dining space. Framed with a metallic champagne finish, the screens highlight the angular ceiling, establishing the diagonal motif that drives Zébulon Perron’s design.
The true centrepiece is the graphic diagonal tile pattern that envelops the interior. Each continuous line draws the eye across the floor, up the walls and central bar, rendering the space with a sense of movement. The bar is not only a design showpiece, but a tribute to Café Gentile’s flagship location.
The dramatic tile pattern is tactfully paired with more muted and minimal tones. While the understated finishes take a backseat to the ceramics, an eclectic material palette quietly rounds out the space. Luxurious marble sits alongside kitsch vinyl tabletops, and wood panelled walls juxtapose sleek amber glass dividers. Even vertical blinds, a 70s signature, have found a home in the contemporary space.
Vintage furnishings and fixtures — sourced from classified ads and personal collections — imbue the restaurant with a profound sense of character that cannot be easily replicated. While the decor is reminiscent of traditional pizza parlours, antique glass pendants inject a touch of old-world elegance. Nestled between the bar and banquettes, a vintage Pac Man machine is a nod to the Gentile’s family arcade on Rue Chebenel — home to many of Anthony’s fond childhood memories.
“We wanted to honour aspects of those cherished memories as much as possible, without being too cliché,” says Zébulon Perron. “I think that we have succeeded in designing a welcoming environment that is equal parts architectural, unique, dynamic and nostalgic.” The firm has delivered on this promise — crafting a space that feels undeniably fresh despite its references to the past.
The retro-inspired eatery by local firm Atelier Zébulon Perron honours a Montreal family’s culinary legacy.