Tremblant is hands down one of my favourite places. I’ve been coming here for years on end; which has allowed me to acquaint myself with the village and everything in it including one of my most recommended lunch stops and restaurants, Coco Pazzo. I don’t even think I could count how many times I’ve eaten here, especially after having worked a summer behind the bar (yes, I got samples J). Throughout these experiences which started from a connection through great friends, Margo and Luigi have been extremely open-hearted and supportive of our adventures and interests, especially in food. I could have not have chosen a better couple to sit down with and learn a bit more about their experiences in the restaurant business and what makes Coco Pazzo such a standout in a village full of other eateries.
On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the restaurant was only starting to fill up when we sat down for a chance to chat and inquire about some of the things I still didn’t know about it.
It was before Intrawest had bought the resort that a friend suggested to Margo and Lu to get on board and start a restaurant in the village. Although this didn’t seem like a possibility at the time, with the support of some close friends, the idea became a reality.
While changing locations from a previous restaurant, Lu had wanted to do a complete remodel; a new location, new name. The name “Coco Pazzo” was inspired from a restaurant in New York City; the anglicized name means “crazy chef” in Italian and now demonstrated the new direction for the classic Italian restaurant in the heart of the Mont-Tremblant village. Coco comes from cuoco, which means chef in Italian, and the word Pazzo means crazy.
Many things on the menu have never changed lending itself to the quality the owners have always worked hard to maintain. The Olive Oil from Campo Basso has been a staple in the kitchen since they started; other ingredients from the same producers include olives and sundried tomatoes directly from Italy. Both Margo and Lu have visited the farm and met the farmers that work directly with fresh Italian ingredients that add a personal touch, integrity and quality to their menu that is presented every night. Organic pasta, local Quebec meats, and gluten free products (they’re listed on the Canadian Celia’s Association website) have always been an integral part of their menu to ensure the best for their customers. Buying local products is not only great for the economy, it has been an opportunity to create a rapport with the farmers and leads to knowing the exact details in the animal’s diet, as well as how they lived and died; that last bit being an important motto for both them and the restaurant.
One of Lu’s favourite items on the menu is the risotto. Having once been the head chef, he knows food and I’d take his word for virtually anything when it comes to food. Many different risottos have rotated through their menu over the years, but the mushroom and talleggio is his personal favourite. To start, the trout stack appetizer is another favourite for the restaurateur.
While keeping as much local and homemade as possible, the menu still remains an important part of the experience at Coco Pazzo. Staying true to their morals and the initial vision for the restaurant was an important aspect. Along with this, the concept of menu building is incorporated in order to add richness to the eating experience where subsequent courses can appropriately complement each other.
The biggest challenge combatted by these restaurateurs was the shop space facing the main street of the village that was restricted by Intrawest to being a take-out spot. A lot of time and energy went into the thought and design of this now famously known (by the locals), as one of the best take-out places in the village. The sandwiches, pastas, and desserts are all made right there; using fresh and healthy ingredients which are far better than anywhere else in the area. With a variety of choices, it’s really an amazing spot to stop off either after a hike, or a morning full of moguls. The cheesecake brownies are to die for!!
Filled with foodie information, I was so excited to start writing this post. Doing a feature for the first time has opened my eyes to some of the challenges and exciting ways of the restaurant business. I was lucky enough to learn some of the ideas for their renovation come spring! Make sure to check it out.
Overall, Coco Pazzo definitely has my stamp of approval.