Kamloops and Jaime were in town! I made reservations at Cotto Italian Comfort Food in Kensington. Before we left for dinner, we shared a bottle of wine at my house – Pinot Noir, Iris Vineyards (Oregon, Willamette Valley).
Kamloops and L enjoyed this wine more than I did. I found the flavour very light with a touch of tartness.
At the restaurant, we ordered a bottle of Chianti Classico Tenuta di Arceno ($50). I would order this Chianti again. I thought it was well-balanced and paired nicely with our dinner. This is a wine I’d pick up regularly for supper. Cotto doesn’t markup their wines as much as other restaurants in Calgary. I spoke to a wine buyer and he told me the standard industry markup is three times the retail cost. I ordered a case of Tenuta di Arceno and saw Cotto’s markup was only two times the retail cost. I heard Model Milk does two times the wholesale cost.
All the tomato-based dishes I’ve tried at Cotto were spectacular. In honour of this lovely fruit, or vegetable, depending if you are a scientist or cook, let’s listen to Hang on Little Tomato by Pink Martini.
We ordered family style – Arancini ($12), Caprese ($28), Milanese ($29), Pappardelle Ragu ($24), and Spagetti E Pomodoro ($24). The portions are generous. The two appetizers and three mains was plenty of food for the four of us. Actually, now that I think about it, Jaime, Kamloops and L didn’t eat much. I went all out and ate in excess. I love Italian food.
When the golden brown arancini balls arrived at our table, the scent of cheese wafted up. The rice was cooked so that the grains were still firm and well formed. The cheese fondue was light and silky smooth. We thought we tasted mushrooms in the rice.
The caprese salad was one of the best salads I’ve eaten. Those tomatoes – oh god – just exploded with sweetness. The buffalo mozzarella was light and decadent. I could taste the toasted nuttiness in the pine nuts. The pancetta was warm and when I chewed, squirted with fatty deliciousness. The pesto sauce and arugula added freshness to the mix and made the flavours pop.
The large pork chop was impressively thick, covering almost most of the wooden board. The breading was still glistening from a sweet glaze and sizzling from the fryer. The side salad was simple and sweet. The polenta fries were amazing – crispy and delicious. I’d order the polenta fries again.
The meatball in the pappardelle ragu was super sized and dense. The side of pasta was very good – al dente and saturated in a bright, sweet, creamy tomato sauce.
My second favourite dish of the night was the Rigatoni Pomodoro. The pasta had a good bite to it. The cherry tomato and basil sauce was addicting – I’d pay to learn how to make a sauce like this. I really don’t know Cotto can make something as simple as tomato sauce into this elevated delicacy that drove all our tastebuds crazy. I’m normally a white cream sauce kinda gal, but at Cotto, it’s tomatoes all the way.
Jaime, Kamloops and L shared a dessert – Coviglia Napoletana. I didn’t try a bite but Kamloops described the combination of chocolate semi-freddo, salted caramel and candied hazelnuts as a frozen chocolate hedgehog. Jaime looked up at Kamloops with a puzzled look on her face, so I’m not sure she agreed with him.
Jaime noticed that her go to drink – canarino – was on the menu. I wonder if a lot of Chinese customers dine at Cotto, because that’s a popular drink for our peeps. I heckled Jaime mercilessly about being a paw paw (Chinese grandmother) until I got tired of the sport. The next time I have her over for a dinner party, I’m going to write on my cocktail chalkboard – The Jaime (Hot Water & Lemon).
Cotto is the sort of place I’d host a party for my family. The food is delicious and well-priced. Cotto makes it on Hitting the Sauce’s list of favourite restaurants in Calgary.