Italian · Restaurants · Seafood

Garden of Italy – Nenshi Approved

I’m always keen to know where politicians (e.g. Mayor Nenshi) and food writers (e.g. Gwendolyn Richards) dine in Calgary. I’m interested in where they eat and what they order. I swear I’m not a creep. For this post, let’s listen to Mariah Carey’s Obsessed.

I’ve taken a class with Richards, so I know she frequents Calcutta Cricket, Ten Foot Henry, Anju, Bridgette Bar and Bar Von der Fels. I heard that Nenshi likes Africana BBQ Curries and Cleaver (specifically for Plank Mondays). One place he’s tweeted about is Garden of Italy.

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I visited Garden of Italy’s Facebook page and saw the evidence, a picture of Nenshi with Chef Nahid. After further investigation, it turns out I know one of the owners – Ruby. Naturally I asked Ruby what Nenshi orders. She informed me that he has ordered the Baked Lasagna (twice), Garden Penne and a pizza (she didn’t specify which one). Seriously, politicians get zero privacy. I’m not helping either.

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For Disco Mary’s birthday, we wanted to celebrate at Garden of Italy. Ruby decorated our table with a birthday sign. What a sweetie!

happy birthday

We started with glasses of pinot gris ($10) and Bruschetta ($4). The bread was toasted and had a light crunch to it. Piled high was a juicy, vibrant mixture of fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil. This was a lovely start to our meal. I would order the bruschetta again.

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Based on Ruby’s recommendation, I ordered the Seafood Platter ($35). The platter contained salmon, basa, mussels, shrimp, scallops, calamari and scampi. Each piece of seafood was cooked perfectly. The salmon was tender and moist. The calamari was toothsome. The mussels were fat and plump. The shrimp had a nice crunch to it. The homemade white wine tomato sauce was so mouthwatering that I’d suggest to Garden of Italy to sell it. The portion was large but I still ate everything on my plate.

seafood

Legal ordered the Fettuccine with Creamy Garlic Prawns ($20). She mentioned the taste of seafood was predominant. Unlike some other pasta joints, you get an excellent ratio of seafood to pasta. Less noodles but more succulent seafood.

fettucine

Meets enjoyed her Gnocchi ($18). She thought the dumplings were buttery and light. The gorgonzola cream had the right amount of sharpness. Damn Meets, maybe you should start blogging too. Meets said the food was a thousand times better than Chianti’s and she wants to return again. The portions of the pasta are filling, but with the exception of the seafood pasta aren’t so huge you are taking leftovers home.

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Jo ordered the Tutto Mare Linguini ($25). Out of all the pastas that were ordered, this was the most hearty. You get a big mound of noodles, with mussels, shrimp, scallops, clams, calamari in that same delicious white wine tomato sauce. Jo said the mussels and clams tasted very fresh. She took about half her food home.

seafood pasta

Disco Mary ordered Lombardy Chicken ($25). I didn’t ask her how her food was because at this time, I was deep into my own dish. I did overhear her say the pasta was al dente and the chicken was good. She doesn’t have Meets’ flair for describing food. Disco Mary took half her chicken home.

chicken

Ruby brought out a complimentary dessert for the birthday girl. Meets, without any prompting and perhaps emboldened by my praise of her, informed me that the tiramisu had the proper hint of coffee. I liked the simplicity of this dessert. You could detect each ingredient – the homemade ladyfingers, espresso and the ultra light mascarpone cream cheese.

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Our server Sam was awesome. She’s British and hilarious, so funny in fact I asked her to join us for our next girls’ night. She warned me that she was more than our group could handle. Bring it on sister.

I would return for the bruschetta, the seafood platter and the lasagna because Mayor Nenshi ate it twice, so it must be good! Hitting the Sauce gives Garden of Italy two fat thumbs up.

Garden of Italy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beer · Burgers · Chain Restaurants

Chilis Texas Grill – Airport Experience

The Fort McMurray airport is the only other place that’s worse than the Calgary airport in terms of food options. If I’m travelling solo, I bring my own food via Chuen May. Once, the customs agent actually said my dumplings and sticky rice from Chuen May smelled so good that everyone in security wanted to know what was in it. However, this time around I was travelling with my husband and he likes to do “trip shorteners”. Essentially, it is having a couple of beers before a flight, which seems to shorten the waiting time before we board.

wines

Chilis was our only option. I’ve eaten here before and I would avoid the burgers and buffalo chicken wraps. I do like the chicken lettuce wraps, but it is no longer on the menu. I ordered a glass of NK Mip Cellars Pinot Blanc ($12.99) while L ordered a beer. I thought it was annoying that there was no prices listed for beer ($8.00).

fries

We waited fifty minutes for our food to arrive. Our server came at the twenty-five minute mark to say that the kitchen was having issues with the tickets. We repeated our order and watched as another table asked for their food to go, as they had to board. At forty minutes, our server told us it shouldn’t be too much longer. When we received our food ten minutes later, I mentioned out loud that the fries were cold.

salad

Our server heard me and looked annoyed but didn’t say anything. Lucky for us, the Sante Fe Chicken Salad ($15.00) fared better. I don’t normally order salads at chain restaurants, but I saw someone else order it and it looked good.

sald best view

The portion was filling. The lettuce was fresh. The avocado was buttery and a generous amount. The chicken was juicy and subtly spiced. The crispy tortilla strips added a crunch. I also liked that the dressing was served on the side, as only a little was needed.

I guess being the only restaurant at the airport means you have a captive audience. Hopefully when the airport is renovated, there will more options. If you find yourself at the mercy of Chilis, I recommend ordering a salad with a side of patience.

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