My Review of Montano's in Roanoke
Fortunately, we’ve never had any problems at Montano’s International Restaurant. I’ve been to Montano’s a number of times over the years and it’s usually in a big family group. Last week, I went for dinner with my wife, mom, and grandparents and we had a great meal there – as we always do. I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure this is Nicole’s favorite restaurant in Roanoke, probably because they serve great crab legs. She may say otherwise but I secretly worry she will leave me for a character from Deadliest Catch who can provide her with an unending supply of crab legs. I digress…back to dinner!
The atmosphere at Montano’s is classy but casual. They have one of the largest and most popular bars in Roanoke and a massive selection of liquors, beers, and wines. There are multiple dining areas and you will probably see some people celebrating an anniversary, some having a business meeting, while others are simply enjoying a casual meal. The service is good and I would recommend getting a reservation because it’s one of the area’s most popular restaurants, especially on weekends.
In my experience, the food has always been consistently good. The pre-entrée bread is excellent and I have a hunch it is from On the Rise, but there is no way I can confirm this because the staff are "sworn to secrecy." It is served with a side of olive oil and Italian spices that are amazing! It takes serious self control to resist filling up on the bread before the rest of the meal is served, which means I have no idea what it actually feels like.
Everyone else really enjoyed their dishes as well – as they always do at Montano’s. The prices are a bit on the high side (many entrees are around $20) but I think it’s worth it. The variety on the menu makes it a place where everyone can find something they like and the quality lives up to expectations. Montano’s has been a popular dining spot in the Roanoke Valley for many years and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Living in Roanoke, I find a lot of people who seem to support this "It's good enough for Roanoke" idea. It happens all the time with food.
Compared to something better from a different city, people might not think the quality of a local restaurant is anything special. However, because it's Roanoke, they think it's a great choice. I have to confess that I've been part of this way of thinking for a long time, but I refuse to do it anymore. To continue to place lower expectations on restaurants and chefs in Roanoke is a disservice to the ones who are actually doing a great job and have food that could be served in any part of the country.
To me, Montano's has become a classic "we're good enough for Roanoke" type of restaurant. It's settled into its niche of being a place for the people of South Roanoke to come and listen to music, drink, and eat their mediocre food but think it's amazing because they're surrounded by "their type of people." It's their place.
If you live in the Roanoke Valley (and not in South Roanoke), you know what I mean.
There's nothing special about the food. Actually, the best thing served is the bread, which isn't actually made at Montano's. They get it delivered from a local bakery in Downtown Roanoke.
And the menu...I'm skeptical of a place that claims to specialize in Brazilian, French, Italian, American, and Asian food. If you're trying to do all of those things, are you really doing anything of them well?
The service seems to be catered more toward regulars, which goes back to it becoming just a sort of South Roanoke social club.
I know this is an entire contradiction of the original review I wrote about Montano's, but my experiences have changed and I refuse to let Roanoke settle anymore. In my opinion, places like this aren't helping the region become more dynamic and a great city for food. It just maintains the status quo. That might be good enough for some, but not for me.
Montano's International Restaurant
3733 Franklin Road SW, Roanoke, VA 24014