Bakery · Bars/Lounges · Cheap Eats · Curry · Fast Food · Happy Hour · Italian · Mexican · Patio · Pizza

First Street Market – Pure Street Food, Saffron Street, Moose and Poncho

On Sunday, L and I checked First Street Market. I’ve heard favourable things about all the vendors – particularly the places I’ve never tried such as Actually Pretty Good, La Mano, and Friends with Benedicts. However, on this visit, I came specifically for Pure Street Food and Moose and Poncho, two restaurants I’ve frequented in the past. For this review, let’s listen to “All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers.

We grabbed a spot at the First Street Bar, just in time for the tail end of happy hour (4:00-6:00 p.m.). I ordered a glass of the Vinho Verde (HH $5, Regular $7, HH Bottle $25, Regular $35) and L chose the Snake Lake Pilsner (HH $5, Regular $7).

The Portuguese white wine was served ice cold. I found this wine bright with strong tropical notes. Other than First Street Market Bar, I don’t know anywhere else in the city where you can get a drinkable bottle of wine for only $35. Where was this place when I was in school?

At Pure Street Food I ordered the Bun Bo Sate ($12) and a Fire Chicken w/ Melted Cheese Sesame Donut ($6) for L. The broth was thick, rich and beefy. The slices of beef shank, brisket and beef rib were flavourful and tender. The noodles had a nice bounce to them.

I took a bite of the sesame donut. The flavour of the crispy sesame shell was prominent. L thought the fire chicken was delicious and not painfully spicy like he experienced in Korea.

L ordered four tacos ($6 each): Carnitas (confit pork) and Suadero (lime-marinated confit beef). Both the pork and beef tacos were tasty. I found the seasoning and quality of the meats delectable. I also liked how the flavour of the cilantro wasn’t overpowering. I mentioned to L that I wish he ordered some salsas ($3.50 each) to go with the tacos, as Moose and Poncho make some wicked dips. He said he didn’t see that option when he ordered and the staff never mentioned there were additional sauces he could have purchased. L thought the tacos didn’t need any more sauce than the one he was provided.

I was still hungry, so I ordered a Masala Dosa ($13) from Saffron Street. I remembered seeing Miss Foodie rave about this vendor. As always, she is correct. The crepe was light and delicate, fragrant with the smell of coconut. The potato filling was soft and creamy. I enjoyed alternating each crispy bite into the lentil stew, tomato and coconut chutney. I would order this again.


First Street Market reminds me of the food halls in Toronto, but more intimate and modern. I appreciate the concept – chef-driven, high-quality fast food paired with a bar offering inexpensive drinks. I look forward to my next visit! Hitting the Sauce gives First Street Market two phat thumbs up.

Italian · Pizza

Inglewood Pizza

It was G-Mah’s 75th birthday! To celebrate the occasion, L and I hosted a pizza party at our house. So, for this post, let’s listen to “16 Candles” by The Crests.

Lately, we’ve been ordering from Inglewood Pizza (Killarney location). We’ve enjoyed each pizza, except for the donair pizza, which we both found too sweet. For this occasion, we ordered four large pizzas.

Based on our sample survey (n=7), two pizzas stood out. The All-Meat ($27.15) and Greek Souvlaki ($27.15). The All-Meat pizza was layered with five types of meat: pepperoni, ham, beef, salami, and Italian sausage. Though the pizza was loaded with meats, the proportion of meat and cheese to dough was balanced.

The toppings in the Greek Souvlaki pizza are bountiful, topped with fresh tomatoes, red onion, grilled chicken breast with lemon, oregano, garlic and feta. I liked how each ingredient tasted light and fresh.

The other two pizzas we ordered are similar to each other. The only difference between the Villagers Choice ($26.65) and Town Special ($25.90) is the former contains ham on top of pepperoni, mushrooms, and green peppers.

L and my in-laws are die-hard fans of Hanni’s, but they mentioned Inglewood Pizza was just as good or even better. Personally, I prefer Inglewood Pizza’s crust over Hanni’s. Inglewood’s crust is lighter, and it has a more pleasing flavour.

Both Inglewood Pizza and Hanni’s are heavy-handed with the mozzarella. I prefer Inglewood’s creamier, saltier mozzarella. Inglewood Pizza’s tomato sauce is tangy, whereas Hanni’s has a unique sauce, which I find zesty and aromatic. Hanni’s specialty pizzas have even more cheese and toppings than Inglewood, so if you want a gut-busting pizza, go to Hanni’s.

Pro tip – Buy a large or extra large pizza and get the second one for 50% off. With our discount, the Town Special was $12.95 (regular $25.90), and the Villager was $13.33 (regular $26.65). Four large pizzas are enough for 8-10 guests. We had so much pizza leftover, that even after sending five slices home with G-Mah, I froze eight slices for future dinners.

Italian · Special Occasion

D.O.P. – Celebration dinner

Tuesday was a day of celebrations! First, I accepted a new position. Then, my friend Honesty quit her second job. Finally, Jyoti Gondek became Calgary’s new mayor. L took me, Honesty, and Glen Jr to D.O.P to celebrate this series of beautiful events. For this post, let’s listen to “Paperback Writer” by the Beatles.

I’ve been trying to get into D.O.P. for weeks. Even on a Tuesday night, the restaurant was packed, vibrating with energy from the open kitchen and the loud chatter from the customers dining at the bar. Pro tip – if you visit right when D.O.P opens, you’ll likely snag a spot at the bar.

We began with a round of drinks. Glen Jr chose a beer from Inner City ($8), L picked an Annex Italian Pilsner ($8). Honesty ordered a non-alcoholic Negroni ($6), and I sipped on a flute of Lambrusco ($14). I found the pinkish sparkling wine light, clean and minerally. L enjoyed his beer, which he said tasted like Peroni but better.

I heard D.O.P.’s antipasto are excellent, so we ordered two orders of Grilled Bread ($10); White Anchovy ($10); Whipped Ricotta ($9); Meatballs ($21.50); Eggplant ($7); and Green Pickled Tomatoes ($7).  Holy moly – this bread is wondrous stuff. The innards of the bread were light and fluffy. I love how the bread puffs up and the big air pockets within. The outer layers of the bread were crispy, hot and salty. The olive oil was excellent – grassy and smooth. I know the French are known for their bread, but the heavyweight title should go to the Italians in Calgary. D.O.P, Rocket Pie, Savino, Azzurri, and Cotto – these chefs create magic with just flour, water, yeast, olive oil and salt.

Our server instructed us to eat the anchovies with ricotta and bread. What a knock-out pairing! The ricotta was cool and creamy, rich like whipped cream. The anchovies were bursting with umami – salty and pungent.  I appreciated the crunch of the white onions against the oily mixture of fish and bread. This was my favourite bite of the night.

L doesn’t generally like eggplant, but he declared D.O.P’s version excellent. The eggplant was soft, tart and smokey. L thought he could taste balsamic in the eggplant.


L also doesn’t like tomatoes, but he was a fan of the pickled green tomatoes. He liked how the tomatoes were crunchy and tart. There was something in the tomato dressing that sparkled on my tongue.

Honesty loved the flavour of the meatballs. I was impressed with the soft, fluffy texture. The red sauce was delicious. Having made meatballs before, I could tell labour and a lot of love goes into this version. I would order this again and I’m not a fan of meatballs.

The Tajarin ($26) was a saucy, cheesy pasta dish. The thin egg noodles were soft and soaked up the flavour of the garlic and tomato sauce. I could see my father enjoying this dish. This pasta dish reminds me of an elevated version of the pasta at Nick’s Spaghetti House, an Italian restaurant my father would eat at weekly back in the 1960s.

I loved how the Veal Chop Parm ($49) arrived in this impressive, super-sized portion. The exterior was crunchy and sizzling hot. The veal itself was tender, blanketed in a heavy layer of melted provolone cheese. As I gnawed on the bone, I could feel the shards of the batter shatter and land in my hair. I’m not a dainty eater.

I ordered a bottle of Noelia Ricci Sangiovese ($65) to enjoy with our meal. I found this wine easy to drink, smooth and bright on my tongue. I also tried a glass of the house white wine ($9). I was so happy to find such an enjoyable glass of wine for only nine bucks; a tear escaped from the corner of my eye. Thank you D.O.P., you are my unicorn.

For dessert, we shared Gelato ($11), Plums ($11), and Limoncello ($16). The plums tasted like cherries to me. I thought I could detect a bit of licorice in the dessert. The gelato was cold and creamy, with a salty, crunchy garnish.

I’m a big fan of D.O.P. The antipasti, veal chop and wines are impressive. Hitting the Sauce gives D.O.P two phat thumbs up.

Italian · Pizza

Rocket Pie – Crust me, this is a good one

Grohl is in town. He has a much higher standard than I do when it comes to food. I told L we had to take him to places that we know are awesome, otherwise we will have to listen to him dramatically complain how his current city is so much better than Calgary’s restaurant scene. L suggested we take him to Rocket Pie in Canmore. In light of Stampede, let’s listen to “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash.

We were hungry after our hike, so we selected three pizzas – the Margherita ($18), Formaggi ($25 + $5 prosciutto) and the Mortadella ($24). For beverages, we ordered pints of Misty Mountain Hops ($8.50) and Dat Juice ($8.50).

Grohl said that if you want to know if a pizza place is any good, you should try the margherita pizza. Well, if a margherita is the litmus test of a stellar pizza, Rocket Pizza passes with flying colours. What I liked about this pizza is how the three ingredients stood out. The fior de latte is soft and stretchy with just the right amount of saltiness. The smell of the torn basil leaves is strong and fragrant. The crushed tomato sauce is bright and tangy. Simplicity at its best.

The formaggi pizza with prosciutto is a killer combination of sweet and salty. The saltiness of the prosciutto accentuated the sweetness of the honey and sharpness of the gorgonzola cheese. L said the addition of the prosciutto is worth more than five dollars.

The mortadella pizza is the most unique pizza I’ve tried in a while. L and Grohl noticed the scent of lemon zest. I thought the candied pistachios paired well with the mortadella because the sweet nuttiness popped against the cool fatty slices of meat. The layers of mortadella also helped to balanced out the fluffier, heavier sections of the crust.

The crust at Rocket Pie is something special. There’s this pleasing tastiness to it that makes you want to munch slowly to savour the flavour. I thought it was interesting that texture of the pizza crust varied by each pie, perhaps due to the toppings.

The formaggi pizza provided the crispiest crunch. The dough is thinner and the honey was almost caramelized right into the cheeses. I noticed the crust on the margherita is more blistered than the other pies. I love the papery texture on the spots of blackened dough. Compared to the other two pies, the crust in the mortadella pizza is the thickest and fluffiest.

Miss Foodie recommended Rocket Pizza to me and I’m going to use her other recommendations for our meals with Grohl. She’s been a long-time fan of Han’s in Chinatown. Grohl loves spicy Chinese food, and if Miss Foodie approves, I know Grohl will be enjoy the food too. I should start tipping Miss Foodie for her restaurant recommendations because her picks are pure gold.

Italian · Patio · Pizza

Rocket Pie – Neapolitan Pizza in Canmore

Since the pandemic started, L has been working around the clock. Lately, he’s been looking more weary than usual. I wasn’t sure if his tiredness was work-related or because I’ve been extra cranky since I started Noom. Either way, I told him to pack an overnight bag because we were going to Canmore for the night. There’s nothing like a little mountain air to brighten one’s mood. For this post, let’s listen to “Slow Ride” by Foghat.

I’m not familiar with the food scene in Canmore. I’ve only eaten at Crazyweed, The Trough, Iron Goat and 514 Poutine. Since this was L’s getaway, I wanted to take him out for one of his favourite foods – pizza. I asked Miss Foodie and Lovegastrogirl where they would go. Both recommended Rocket Pie, a restaurant known for their Neapolitan style pizza, baked in a state-of-the-art stone fired oven.

Rocket Pie is located in a plaza-style shopping area. The restaurant itself is spacious and modern. L admired the textured wood wall while I appreciated the genuinely warm welcome from the staff. To start, L ordered a can of Misty Mountain Hops (Canmore Brewery, $8.50). I asked our server Tara about the wine list. She recommended the house wine (Remole Toscana, $10, 8oz) because it goes with everything. I’ve been on the hunt for an inexpensive red, and I think I found my unicorn. This is a solid wine – something I’d happily sip around my house. Look at this big pour! I knew immediately that Rocket Pie and I were going to be lifelong friends.

L complains that I never order enough food when we dine out, which is true. I purposely under order because I find I overeat if there’s extra food in front of me. This time I made sure L would have enough to eat. I ordered two pizzas and one calzone: Formaggi ($25), Diavola ($23), and the Fennel Sausage ($24). All pizzas come with complimentary chili oil.  After tasting the oil, I immediately thought of Foodkarma as she’s the undisputed queen of chili oil. I think even she would be impressed with Rocket Pie’s version. The oil is moderately spicy and nutty. I could really taste the richness that comes from a proper toasting of the chili flakes. The chef needs to bottle this liquid gold and start selling it. He would make fat coin.

The Diavola pizza is the most recommended pizza on Google reviews. I thought the ingredients sounded simple, but the flavour profile was anything but basic.  L said the Diavola was an excellent combination of quality cheeses, spicy sopressata and fresh tomato sauce. The salami was on point – each piece was so flavoursome. I loved how the pickled onions and chili flakes added a pleasant crunch and pop of heat.

L’s favourite pizza is the Formaggi. L loved the sweet, salty, and savoury notes from the blend of mozzarella, fontina, gorgonzola, pecorino ramno, parmigiana Reggiano and local honey. The crust is so lovely – crispy, thin and airy. The dough is light enough to let the blend of cheeses and honey shine, but substantive enough to carry the strong flavours. Chef and co-owner David Carruthers recommends adding prosciutto ($5) to the Formaggi. I’ll do that next time.

The Fennel Sausage Calzone is my favourite. This is the first time I tried a calzone that I enjoyed. Too often, calzones remind me of pizza pockets. The crust was different from the two pizzas we tried. The dough puffs up like a pastry and the crust was almost buttery in texture. The calzone was filled with mozzarella, ricotta cheese, fresh spinach, and house made fennel and sausage. The sausage tasted clean and bright – the meat wasn’t oily or heavy. I love the charring on the dough – the crust was blistered enough to give off a smoky flavour. The calzone is big enough for two people. Freaking fantastic and worth the calories.

What sets Rocket Pie from all the other pizzerias is the crust. David has created a master dough. This dough is perfection. This is the most delicious crust I have ever eaten. You need to try this pizza to taste what I’m saying. Some flavours can’t be described in words.

At the end of the night, we were stuffed as the inside of the calzone and blissfully happy. We took home half a calzone and a whole pizza, with two complimentary plastic containers of the chili oil. I also bought a bottle of the Remole Toscana ($20) to eat with our leftovers. We baked our pizzas the next day, and the food and wine were still awesome. This was further confirmation that the mountain air and time away didn’t unduly influence our taste buds.

Both L and I are planning our next stay in Canmore, and you can bet we will return and try some of the other pizzas. The food is worth the scenic hour-long drive from Calgary. There are options for vegetarians, and I read online that there is even a gluten-free pizza. I spied a highchair by the washroom, so this is a kid-friendly restaurant. Hitting the Sauce gives Rocket Pie two fat thumbs up.

Italian · Pizza · Restaurants

Savino Pizzeria

Lovegastrogirl takes her pizza so seriously, she coordinates her pie with a matching outfit. Lately, she’s been posting nonstop about Savino Pizzeria. When I finished my work for the day, I decided I wanted to try this pizzeria.

I ran upstairs to tell L that we had to pick up a pizza for dinner. He asked me where the restaurant was located. I said it was in an alley somewhere in Glenbrook. He looked startled and I could tell he had more questions but as he was in the middle of work, he didn’t have time. I blurted out the place was legit and Lovegastrogirl eats there every week. He nodded and pointed to his credit card. For this post, let’s listen to “She Drives Me Crazy” by Fine Young Cannibals.

Savino Pizzeria is located in Glenbrook, in a food truck parked in a backyard. Their food is inspired by the pizzas in Naples, Italy. Three things you need to know. Each pizza is a personal size, so order at least one per person. The pizza is the opposite of what many North Americans have come to love in Greek-style pizza. Savino is all about using top quality ingredients and producing the freshest pizza you can find in Calgary.

The first time I tried Neapolitan pizza was in Cannes, France. I was twenty years old, with my girlfriend and a young New Zealand couple. When we only ordered a large pizza and a bottle of wine to share, the waiter made a face, and then took away our tablecloth and linens (mine was on my lap) and tossed us some paper napkins. Our friends were so pissed that to show their displeasure, they upturned the empty wine bottle and wedged it in the middle of the table. Luckily, there was no such snobbery or unnecessary confrontation at Savino, just delicious, fire-baked pizza.

I ordered Lovegastrogirl’s favourite pizzas – the Prosciutto and Arugula ($17) and the Quatro Formaggi with Prosciutto ($21). Pro tip – these pies arrive uncut – so you need a pair of scissors to do the deed yourself.

The first thing I noticed about the prosciutto and arugula pizza was the bright flavour of the tomato sauce. The grape tomatoes tasted so sweet, I thought this had to come from a garden. The arugula was plentiful and so fresh, I wondered where Savino buys their produce.

The quatro formaggi with prosciutto is a cheese lover’s dream. The blend of bocconcini, Parmigiano Reggiano, manchego, and gorgonzola was of pure decadence. The sweetness of the honey accentuated the richness of the cheeses. The homemade chili oil is worth its weight in gold. The oil is spicy enough to make you sputter, but it also had a flavourful kick to it. I use a lot of different chili oils and I’m telling you that Savino’s is the best I’ve tried.

Savino’s crust is thin, and the toppings are light, but I can tell the ingredients are of the best quality. L is a fan of the crust – it was chewy and airy. He was sure the dough was made with 00 flour. I liked the taste of the char on the blistered crust.

Of the two pizzas, our favourite was the four cheese pizza with prosciutto. I have what you call a hearty appetite. Hours later I was hungry again, so we did a dirty and ordered a snack from Popeyes. I need to start keeping salads in my fridge and not make bad late night eating choices.

If you go in knowing what Neapolitan pizza all is about, you’ll love this place. I certainly enjoyed it and look forward to ordering the pizzas again, as well as a bottle of that fabulous chili oil. Hitting the Sauce gives Savino Pizzeria two phat thumbs up.

Fusion · Italian · Japanese · Restaurants

Carino – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Cheese Pull called and wanted to meet for dinner. She asked me to bring L but he declined as he dislikes being the only dude out with a group of chicks. For this post, let’s listen to “Just a Girl” by No Doubt.

Cheese Pull and I wanted to check out Carino, specifically for the gyozagna – a fusion blend of gyoza and lasagna. Carino has moved a couple of doors down the street into spacier, fancier digs. The room is filled with natural light and has a fresh, airy feel to it.

I asked our server for a glass of wine that would pair with the lasagna. He recommended the Barbera ($11). Cheese Pull doesn’t drink. I noticed that kids nowadays don’t consume alcohol, perhaps because they have better coping skills than my generation did.

For my appetizer, I choose Chicken Karaage ($8). Each piece of chicken was bite-sized and juicy, with a light, soft batter. The taste of basil in the mayonnaise was prominent. Cheese Pull commented the batter wasn’t as crunchy as Sukiyaki House‘s karaage.

The Gyozagna ($24) was so good that Cheese Pull let out a low growling sound as she ate. If that isn’t a compliment, I don’t know what is. Each dumpling was so plump, stuffed with a pork filling that burst with its hot juices. The wagyu meat sauce was so rich and heavy it just melded into the lava of melted mozzarella.

I enjoyed everything about this dish. From the delicate dumpling wrapper to the fresh flavour of the tomato sauce to the crunchy bits of caramelized cheese that crusted onto the top corners of the dish. The portion was also very filling.

Cheese Pull packed half her pasta away while I ate my entire serving. I was planning on bringing L half my pasta but it was so decadent I couldn’t stop eating. Cheese Pull said it was his fault for not coming. Our server was surprised I crushed my plate.

 

I was too full for dessert but Cheese Pull ordered the Hassun ($12) – a trio of sweets. Cheese Pull said the lemon flavouring in the shooter glass was subtle with a consistency like apple sauce. Her favourite of the trio was the creme brûlée. I could hear her tap on the sugar until it broke. She described her creme brûlée as a fancy pudding. The tiramisu was deconstructed – with the bottom layer tasting strongly of espresso.

I plan to return and get L to order the gyozagna so I can order the Alberta Beef Tenderloin with Seared Foie Gras Ravioli ($49.99). If you haven’t been, you have to check Carino out. The food is unique and delicious. Hitting the Sauce gives this Japanese Italian fusion gem two fat thumbs up.

Italian · Pizza · Restaurants

Azzurri Pizzeria – COVID-19 dine-in edition

Karplop and I met up for pizza night at her place. As she lives near all the Italian stores, we stopped by the Italian Super Market so I could stock up on some staples. For this post, let’s listen to “And She Was” by Talking Heads.

As we were shopping, Karplop pointed out Rio Mare tuna is the only canned tuna Miss Foodie will eat. Dammit Karplop, why did you have to go and say that? Now I had to buy it. Seriously, Miss Foodie should create her own stamp and start labeling restaurants and food products so customers know it was Miss Food approved.

When we went to order our pizzas to go, Karplop informed me that Miss Foodie only orders the Cotto e Funghi ($24) at Azzurri Pizzeria. Again Karplop? You know how impressionable I am. Of course I changed my order from my beloved Ten Pizza ($25) to the mushroom pizza. Karplop ordered the Italia ($26) and said we could share both pizzas.

While we waited outside on the patio, Karplop mentioned several times that it would be best to eat the pizzas straightaway because the crust is crispier. However, we decided to take our pizzas to go because we had wine at her place. When we got back, Karplop rushed to lift the lids up and fanned the pizzas to help with the condensation.

I thought the mixed mushroom pizza was a subtle combination of delicate flavours and textures. The prosciutto was so light and clean it reminded me of the deli sliced ham my parents would buy for our sandwiches. The goat cheese was smooth and soft with a little tartness to it. The mushrooms were earthy and with a prominent aroma.

Karplop’s sausage pizza was the opposite of the mushroom pizza.  The homemade Innis and Gunn Italian sausage was juicy and spicy. The zesty tang of the San Marzano tomato sauce was dominant. I enjoyed the crunch of the red caramelized onions and the strong flavours of the Genoa sausage, which rounded out this hearty pie. Between the two pies, I have to say I preferred the robustness of the sausage pizza over the refined flavours of the mushroom pie.

I can see why Karplop was so focused on preserving the integrity of the crust. I appreciate the thinness of the dough and the big air pockets within the crust. I particularly liked the charred bits and the chewy texture of the bread. Azzurri only used “00” flour and the dough is hand stretched, tossed, then baked in a 900 degree Marra Forni brick oven.

I told Karplop that I read a Google review by a customer who complained the crust was burnt and she had to pick off the black pieces. Karplop laughed and said that is the way its supposed to be and the charred bits doesn’t taste burnt. She wondered why the customer wasn’t aware that this was a specific style of pizza making. I was tempted to quote Biggie Smalls in the Google review and add, ” … and if you don’t know, now you know.”

If you are a pizza lover and enjoy quality over quantity, check out Azzurri Pizzeria. This place is something special. And if you got a beef with the style of pizza they make, think twice before posting a negative review because you are going to get burned. Hitting the Sauce gives Azzurri two fat thumbs up.

 

Italian · Restaurants · Special Occasion

Cotto Italian – COVID-19 edition

L and I are eating out more frequently to support our favourite restaurants during the COVID pandemic. On Sunday, we ordered a three-course takeout meal from Cotto Italian Comfort Food . For $29 a person, we were given a large Caesar salad, two slices of Parmesan garlic toast, a big pan of porcini truffle mushroom risotto with grana cheese, and two pots of tiramisu.

Screen Shot 2020-03-31 at 2.53.38 PM

When I saw that Cotto was making risotto, I instantly thought of a scene from Big Night, when an American woman orders seafood risotto and fails to understand the tradition and craftmanship behind the dish. Upset that the risotto doesn’t look as how she expected, her husband suggests she order a side of spaghetti and meatballs. For this post, let’s listen to “Oh Marie” by Louis Prima.

Cotto is offering 30% off all their wines. I asked Fiona, the owner and wife of Chef Giuseppe, for a wine that would pair with the food. She recommended 2016 Giuseppe Campagnola Ripasso della Valpolicella Classico Superiore ($42). I found the wine smooth and silky. L thought it was well-balanced and an easy to drink wine. I agree, it was hard to cut myself off after my second glass.

wine

L doesn’t normally like Caesar salads but he’s a fan of Cotto’s version. He liked that there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of garlic. I loved the tartness of the sun-dried tomatoes and the feathery crumbs of grana cheese. The salad dressing was refreshing and helped cut into the richness of the risotto.

two dishes

The garlic bread was decadent, generously layered with butter, parmigiano cheese and garlic. The bread was crusty on the outside and the crumb – the inner part of bread –  was soft and delicate.

pan risoto

I wasn’t expecting such a large portion of risotto. We had enough for lunch the next day. When I lifted the risotto from the pan, I could see the fine strands of cheese stretching out like a cobweb. The grain was cooked to an al dente, deeply infused with the flavour of porcini mushrooms and truffle.

plate

The smell and taste of the truffle wasn’t overpowering. The porcini mushrooms were silky smooth but there was still a nice toothsome crunch to it. The best part of the risotto  was the contrast between the rich, earthy cheesiness and the greens.  The taste of the spring onions and the pea shoots made my tongue tingle with pleasure. This was the first risotto I’ve tried and would order again.

risotto plate

Along with risotto, this was the best tiramisu I’ve consumed. The soft layers of Kahlua espresso lady fingers and mascarpone cream were light and sweet. My favourite part of the dessert was the smell of the cocoa power and amaretto. It reminded me of a frozen dessert I would have as a child, only occasionally, because it was an expensive treat.

tiramisu

On our drive to Kensington, I was shocked to see the number of businesses that are permanently shut down. I feel like there’s a war going on, but instead of guns and the military, it’s an invisible virus wiping out livelihoods in Calgary.

support

Do you want to help the restaurant industry in Calgary? If you have the financial means,  YYCTAKEOUT is asking Calgarians to show their support by joining #YYCTakeoutTuesday and ordering a pick-up meal. If you can’t afford to eat out, consider retweeting or sharing an Instagram story from @yyctakeoutspecials.

Cotto Italian Comfort Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Happy Hour · Italian · Restaurants

Happy hour at Pubblico Italian Kitchen – COVID-19 edition

On Tuesday, it was L and my first date anniversary. I wanted to have drinks at Bar Von Der Fels, but I couldn’t get us a table. I’ve joked before that I’m going to start making multiple reservations at Bar Von Der Fels and sell my spots to other customers. I bet I can make fat coin doing that. I suggested to L we try Pubblico Italian Kitchen. When L heard Pubblico has free parking, he was game.

menu

In light of these chaotic times, I’m going to continue playing music that relaxes me when I’m stressed out. For this post, let’s listen to Violin Sonata No.9 “Kreutzer” by composer Ludwig van Beethoven. My father pointed out this is a very emotional work and only the second movement could be described as relaxing.

As we drove along the street, I could see all the restaurant and shops were empty. Inside Pubblico, we were the only customers. However, by the time we left, three more parties arrived for dinner. I could overhear the other customers nervously joke about coronavirus.

wine

Pubblico offers a wicked happy hour. I’d go as far to say this restaurant offer one of the best deals in Marda Loop, Killarney and Richmond. I ordered a glass of the House White ($5). The white wine was crisp and non-offensive. L requested a pint of the Annex Forward Progress ($8.75).

cheese

I wasn’t in the mood to eat, but L insisted we order at least a couple of plates. I was curious about the “Burrata Bar” as I love fresh cheese. I ordered the 18-month Prosciutto di Parma with MOB honey ($21.50).

bura

The crust was crunchy and chewy. The cheese itself was light and soft. The use of honey was very subtle. I didn’t find the prosciutto overly salty.

sprout

L ordered the Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta ($4.00). We enjoyed the deep char on the outside and the soft centre of the sprout. The sauce was slightly sweet and garlicky. I’d order this again.

red

I ordered a glass of the House Red ($5). I enjoyed the red wine even more than the white. The pours at Pubblico are generous too. I overheard our server Kaitlan mention to another table that the manager is passionate about bringing in wines that are unknown.

pasta

L and I shared the Spaghetti Alla Carbonara ($11). The guanciale (pork cheek) was so frigging tasty. I loved how each piece of pork cheek crackled and popped with flavour. The noodles were firm and slick with a creamy, peppery sauce of egg and pecorino. When I commented on how much I enjoyed the pasta, our server mentioned I would like the specialty pastas even more, as the other pastas are made in-house.

nood pull

I’m keen to return again. I’d like to try some other wines and pastas. With free parking, friendly service and more than decent house wine, there’s a lot to like about Pubblico.

Puublico Italian House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato