Beer · Happy Hour · Italian · Pizza · Restaurants

Posto – Pizza Lunch

Jyoti Gondek invited me along with a few other of her volunteers to Posto for lunch and a chat about her election campaign as city councillor for Ward 3. Jyoti let me pick the food, though Finance said she would order her own meal because she has so many allergies. I asked Chris for his input, but I changed the dishes last-minute when I realized he wasn’t going let me order what I wanted.  Sucker. He was too polite to protest.

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Finance ordered the special salad of the day – fresh heirloom Alberta red tomatoes, fior di latte, fresh basil with a balsamic vinaigrette ($16). The tomatoes were ripe and juicy. The cheese was subtle and soft.

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I ordered a pizza with smoked salmon, leeks, capers, creme fraiche and lemon ($24.00). I really liked the lightness of the creme fraiche and the creamy sauce on the crust. The smoked salmon was cool on the tongue and the capers added a nice saltiness to it. The crust is just awesome. Slightly charred, airy crust with a chew to it.

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We shared the special pizza of the day – house-made mortadella (pork sausage) with pistachios and balsamic vinaigrette ($22). The meat was juicy and flavourful. There was a touch of sweetness to the pie from the balsamic. I thought the sprinkle of pistachios went well with all the other flavours of the ingredients.

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If you haven’t been yet, I would recommend Posto for pizza. It’s a cozy date night spot. Best time to go is on Sundays, when pizzas are half-price all night long! I would recommend the potato, creme fraiche, leek, smoked pancetta ($21) and the spinach, shallot, garlic, wild mushroom, grana padano ($21), and the smoked salmon pizza.

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Posto Pizzeria and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Italian · Restaurants

Chianti Cafe – Willow Park

It was Disco Mary’s birthday on Saturday. Vintage Girl organized this gathering and she picked Chianti Cafe. She and Mindy comes to this location often and Mindy knows one of the servers.

When Vintage Girl booked the reservations, I thought of a restaurant I am dying to try called Garden of Italy. A couple of weeks ago, I saw Mayor Nenshi tweet about his meal there. I sent the girls an email suggesting we go, thus hinting we change the original plans. I guess I’m not as subtle as I think. Vintage Girl asked me straight out just when and for what occasion we should go to Garden of Italy?  I sheepishly said, “Whoever has a birthday after Disco Mary.” I’m a beta, not an alpha. Oh well, we are going to Garden of Italy for Vintage Girl’s birthday in May, though that’s months away.

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I use to go to the Crowfoot location with my friends for the $8.99 pasta specials when I was in grad school. The only thing that’s changed is the parmesan cheese is no longer grated fresh at your table. Instead, there’s a shaker. Mindy told me it’s the same cheese. Apparently, management discovered that grating the cheese at the table led to greater waste.


Mindy ordered the spinach and bacon salad ($6). It tasted pretty much like I remembered. The bacon tasted like bacon bits and there was a generous amount of mushrooms. Mindy prefers the salad with more dressing. I agree, it helps mask the flavour of spinach.


We shared a couple of appetizers: Ravioli Bites Trio ($9) and Fonduta ($10). Mindy dug into the dip before I could take a picture. She apologized profusely as Disco Mary reprimanded her, “She’s got to take a picture first!” No worries girls, I can improvise.

The crab dip was cheesy and warm, with chunks of crab and artichoke. The bread was toasted and smeared with a delicious pesto spread. Chianti’s version is better than my past attempts making crab dip.

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The trio of pasta wasn’t as yummy as the crab dip. The filling was sparse and the pasta  itself was hard. The sauce was a smokey chipotle that tasted like it came out of a bottle. Taste wise, there was little difference between the three types of stuffed pasta.

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I couldn’t decide which pasta to pick for my entree. Mindy told me that Chianti’s is very accommodating and they will let you switch the sauces, noodles or you can pick two and have both. I ordered the Mare e Monte Fettucine ($12.50)  and the Mediterranean Ravioli ($12.50). I’m not sure if Chianti charges extra for making changes or requesting a split order because Mindy treated me out for my belated birthday.

The mare e monte sauce was a light cream sauce mixed with scallops, peas and mushrooms. The scallops were plump and tender. I found the Mediterranean sauce bland. The lemon garlic wine oregano sauce was watery and I could just taste the individual components of the dish, boiled ravioli, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, feta cheese, spinach and artichokes. Again, the ravioli was hard.


One of the many reasons I love going out with these girls is because they give me so much food. I tried Disco Mary’s Salmon Con Gamberoni ($18.50). The baked salmon was moist and tender. The mascarpone cheese sauce was heavy and swirled around my ravioli, made it taste a lot better.

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Mindy’s Pollo Alla Parmigiana ($16.50) was a good choice. The breaded chicken was crispy, covered in ham and bubbling with cheese. She opted for the shrimp fettucine, which was loaded with cheese and garlic.  I found out from our server that the spaghetti, linguine and fettucine is homemade, but the other pastas are not.


I didn’t take pictures of Vintage Girl or Jeanette’s food because their plates were far away from me and I was too lazy to get up. I tried Jeanette’s veal and I thought it was tasty.


Our server brought out a piece of chocolate cake with a candle for the birthday girl. I took a couple of bites. Drizzled with caramel sauce and dotted with whipped cream, with lots of layers of dense chocolate cake and sweet icing, it did the trick.

Chianti in Willow Park was busy, filled with mostly families and groups of friends. I can see why. Service was friendly and attentive throughout our meal.  I also appreciate how accommodating the restaurant was when it comes to changing the dishes based on your preference. Chianti’s is a good option for family with kids. There’s something for all ages and the food is affordable, more so on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays.

Chianti Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Italian · Pizza

Il Centro

On Friday, I planned and hosted my husband’s 40th birthday party. On Saturday, I thought I deserved a night out.  I picked Il Centro because my ex-neighbour highly recommended their pizza. I mistakenly thought Il Centro would have a quiet, romantic ambience like La Luna Rosso. Il Centro is more the sort of place you take that loud talking friend or that relative that can’t handle their wine. Il Centro is a casual, family-friendly restaurant, popular with larger groups.

I have painfully good hearing. I don’t try to eavesdrop but what happens when you hear all the conversations around you? Anyway, when L and I were waiting for our table I overheard customers talking politics. One table was chatting about MLA Sandra Jansen’s floor crossing to the NDP party. Another table was talking about a city councillor (I’m pretty sure it was Evan Woolley) that was supporting Uber’s anticipated move to Calgary. However, I didn’t hear anyone talking about religion, so that was a good thing I guess.

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We had reservations, but we had to wait a bit for someone to set up our table. There were only three servers that night, working frantically to bring out food. I saw a server bringing out samples of wine to three female customers waiting for a table. He looked genuinely concerned that they had to wait for about 15 minutes.

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There were only two types of red wine served ($13.99). I read that the calamari (16.50) was good, so L and I started off with that as our appetizer. The ringlets were huge, but not as tender or clean tasting as La Luna Rosso’s version. La Luna’s calamari is smaller, but the squid has such a nice taste to it, almost like they soaked it in buttermilk before frying it up. The tomato sauce on Il Centro’s calamari was slightly sweet. The portion was enough for four people.

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We shared a small Stuzzicinia pizza ($18.50) and the Homemade Gnocchi ($26.50) with ham and mushrooms. If you have questions about the menu, don’t expect too much patience. When we were debating the size of the pizza, the server was abrupt, just short of rolling his eyes.

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L said Il Centro’s pizza was phenomenal. The crust was light, not thick or thin. All the ingredients tasted fresh. The raw tomatoes were cut thick, its juices made the pie a touch soggy. I ordered some jalapeno pepper and garlic oil ($4.50) on the side.

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The gnocchi was my favourite. The rose sauce was creamy and sweet. The gnocchi was fluffy and soft. Everything just melted on your tongue. I thought Il Centro’s version was even better than Mercato.

This little pizza joint was very busy and obviously popular with regular customers. It’s about the same price or a little more than La Luna Rosso. I’m still on the hunt to find my favourite Italian restaurant in #yyc. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Il Centro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Italian

Sauce Italian Market

I recently realized that I spent most of my income on restaurants and booze. I made the decision to cut back on both vices. However, I think L is getting tired of my home cooking because he announced on Monday that he wanted to eat out. We picked Sauce Italian Market as we’ve been hearing good things from our neighbours. When we arrived, the restaurant was packed.

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I ordered the Everything but the Kitchen Sink wine ($10) while L opted for a pint of the Fugetaboutit beer from Big Rock ($7). I learned from our server that the owner is a wine lover and she picked some great deals for customers. For example, Cusmano Syrah sells for $28.50 for a bottle or a glass for $7.50. On Wednesdays, all wines are 50% off.

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L picked the Clam Linguine ($10 on Sunday and Monday nights). I liked the heat and the taste of the sea in the light sauce. I enjoyed the thinly silvered crunchy red onions and the freshness from the diced tomatoes.


I ordered the Carbonara Linguine ($10). The smell and taste of the parmesan cheese was pleasantly strong. The peas made the pasta pop. The taste of bacon was prominent. The sauce was light, not heavy like I was anticipating.

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I knew L wanted dessert but I told him to wait until we got up to leave. The market area is known for the cannoli ($2.50). We picked up two and ate them when we got home. L said it was the best cannoli he’s ever tried.

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The shell was crispy and the filling was creamy but not too sweet or heavy. $2.50 is excellent value for this pastry. L has an upcoming birthday party and I plan to buy a couple dozen for dessert. I really like Sauce Italian Market. It reminds me of an affordable, casual version of Calgary’s Mercato Restaurant and Market.

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Sauce Italian Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Italian · Seafood · Special Occasion

La Luna Rossa Ristorante

Office Dad has been after me for a while to try La Luna Rossa, one of his favourite restaurants in #yyc. Office Dad knows the owner and chef Benny, who you can see in the picture below. I love that Benny wears a chef’s hat. I think it shows an old world craftsmanship and ceremony you don’t often see in Calgary.

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I had bought a TravelZoo voucher for our dinner. It cost me $50 for one appetizer, two mains and dessert, plus extra for certain dishes, add-ons and beverages. Though we received a big discount, the food we received was the real deal. The dishes we tried were delicious, service was great and the freshness of the seafood was incredible. Another bonus, since it was Thursday, select bottles of wine were only $30.00.

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For our appetizer, L and I shared the Calamari ($14). The ringlets were lightly battered with a thin crispy coating. The squid was soft and cooked perfectly. The heat from the spicy tomato sauce lingered on our lips. I would order this again.


L ordered the veal special. I took a bite of his veal, which was super tender. His entree came with pasta and a side of vegetables. I haven’t tried veal since grade nine, when I made it for my home economics class.

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I ordered pasta with two lobster tails in a rose sauce. I devoured this dish. The lobster was sweet, plump and fresh. The sauce was creamy and tangy. Those noodles? Luscious, soft strands of heaven. Yum, yum, yum.

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Office Dad informed me that La Luna is popular with local politicians. Though we didn’t see Mayor Nenshi or Premier Notley in the room, we did bump into L’s colleague, Flower Child. I took a picture of Flower Child and her husband but L made me delete it. He said I was invading their privacy. I thought I was being careful as I purposely didn’t zoom in to their faces. L permitted me to use the picture above – you can only see a quarter of her face. We stopped by their table and Flower Child’s spaghetti with seafood looked amazing. I want to return to try it myself.

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L picked the homemade apple cake with caramel gelato for dessert. The apple cake was warm and it matched well with the gelato. The texture of the gelato was cool – it felt like whip cream and it didn’t melt as quickly as ice-cream. Flower Child told us her tirimisu was fantastic.

The food was so good that each time our server came to remove our dishes, each plate was scrapped clean. Our server joked that us that we were doing them a favour, as they  wouldn’t have to use as much water to clean the plates, as we had done most of the work ourselves.

La Luna Rossa is a real gem. The restaurant reminds me of the places in Italy I’ve visited. There’s an open kitchen where you can see the chef at his helm and hear the hiss of the grill. The ambience is romantic, with its white table-cloth, candle-lit room, professional service and soothing music playing quietly in the background.  I can see why La Luna maintains a lot of regulars. I enjoyed my meal so much, I’m planning my next visit for either my birthday or Valentine’s Day.

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La Luna Rossa Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Italian · Pizza

Azzurri – Five Star Pizza

Office Daddy, Leng Lei, Playboy and I usually go for lunch once or twice a week. I never get to pick as it is the bossier ones that decide. This time around, Office Daddy said he wanted to see his friend Benny at La Luna Rossa for pizza. Leng Lui and Superman were excited, as they were craving pizza. My cries for pho went unnoticed.

Leng Lui looked up La Luna Rossa but didn’t see pizza on the menu. She pouted and threatened not to go. Office Daddy just laughed and directed Playboy, who was driving, to the restaurant. “Don’t worry office kids, you’ll get your pizza.”

Office Daddy walked into La Luna Rossa and said to Benny, the owner of La Luna, “Benny, we’re going to eat pizza now at your wife’s place!” We exited Benny’s restaurant, bewildered and then Office Daddy led us to a pizzeria two doors past La Luna to Azzurri.


Azzurri is small café, with only a handful of tables. Azzurri is owned and operated by Benny’s wife, mama Terry Ricioppo, and their two sons. We met one of the sons, Faustino Ricioppo. Office Daddy kept pronouncing his name as “Fatso”. Faustino tried to correct him but gave up after a couple of tries.


The pizza oven was flown in from Napoli. The gas brick oven apparently takes two years to cure. All the 12 inch pizzas are made with Caputo “00” flour. The tables were filled by 12:30 p.m., and our crew were the only non-Italians in the joint.


The quality of the pizzas and even the simple salad stood out. The mixed greens tasted like it was just plucked from the garden, tossed with a house vinaigrette.


The margherita is made with San Marzano D.O.P tomatoes, mozzarella fior di latte, basil, sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil. I had no idea such simple ingredients could taste so good. The basil on top of the pizza was so fresh, the tomato sauce was tangy. Underneath the cheese was another layer of basil. The thickness of the dough was just right – thin and crisp.


The 10 is made with San Marzano D.O.P tomatoes, mozzarella fior di latte, prosciutto di Parma D.O.P, arugula, cherry tomatoes, and parmigiano reggiano. I could see the owner shaving slices of the meat and the cheese just before serving the pizza. You can taste the quality of the ingredients and the love goes into these pies.


The tiramisu here is killer, better than Mercato’s version. A little mint is soaked into the butterfingers. There is a sweetness to the custard and the orange liquor gave it that needed booziness. Leng Lei was ticked off we didn’t order one each. Don’t make the mistake we did and share. This s#$* is amazing.

Thanks Office Daddy for taking us to this gem. Though you pissed us off on our way there because you were so secretive, we still adore you as our office guardian.


The pizzas are so outstanding and I’m putting Azzurri on Hitting the Sauce’s list of favourite restaurants in Calgary. We tried the Fiori del Verde ($7), a Margherita ($13) and the 10 pizza ($20).

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Azzurri Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Italian · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Mercato -29th (wink ;-) Birthday Dinner

I’ve been wanting to try Mercato for years. I was hesitant to book a table because everyone I knew kept telling me that Mercato was very pricey. I’m usually leery of expensive restaurants because with higher prices come greater and perhaps (my) unrealistic expectations. After consulting with my ex-neighbour, a wine distributer and overall man with excellent taste, I decided to book my birthday dinner at Mercato. I went with my childhood bestie, Beep Beep, as my husband had to work late that night.

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Our server that night was Mike. A long time professional server at Mercato, he impressed us with his recommendations of wine and his thoughtful suggestions for food. Throughout the night, we sipped on lovely glasses of white, then red and then tasted some dessert wines. I wish I wrote down the names of the glasses we tried but I couldn’t catch the pronunciation of the wines we sampled. If we were at a pub, I would do what I normally do, point at the menu and say, “That one?”.

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We ordered the Caprese Salad ($23), Gnocchi ($17), and Bistecca ($49). The portions were big enough that we took home some of the steak and gnocchi for my husband. Of the bunch, my favourite dish was the gnocchi.

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The caprese salad was worth the price. I really enjoyed the mixture of toasted pine nuts, various tomatoes, and the smokiness of the eggplant. The fresh buffalo mozzarella and olive oil was killer. The temperature of all the ingredients was perfect. Cool but not too chilled.

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The 20-ounce steak was cooked to a medium rare. The meat was juicy and tender. I did find the steak to be a fatty cut. Beep Beep and I liked the addition of citrus we got from squeezing the grilled lemons all over the steak and arugula. We didn’t find the steak or any of the other dishes over-salted like other reviewers on Zomato and Yelp. I noticed the salt for our steak was served on the side.

The potato gnocchi was out of this world good. I tried gnocchi before but it never tasted like pillows of perfection. The shaved Reggiano and Romano was plentiful and added a luxuriousness to every bite.

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Beep Beep insisted on ordering tiramisu. The dessert was large, not too sweet, and light. I would have preferred a more boozier version, but hey, I am HittingtheSauce. Lately though, I’ve been thinking about changing my blog’s name to HittingtheSack. Old age will do that to you.

I’m also glad Mercato finally put up their menu with prices on their website. I won’t set foot inside a restaurant until I know if I can afford it. Yes, Mercato is spendy but the food was delicious, the portions ample, and the service was excellent. If I had an expense account or didn’t care about having a retirement plan, I would eat here every week. Thank you bbf, for taking one restaurant off my bucket list.

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Mercato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Deli · Italian

Italian Supermarket

I overheard my work buddies saying they were going to eat at the Italian Supermarket for lunch. I asked Cindy if there was room for me in her SUV. She granted me access and vroom vroom, we were off!


I love the Italian Supermarket. It’s the sort of place my father Ludwig  and I would frequent in Vancouver. Ludwig grew up in a predominately Italian neighbourhood and he would often reminisce about the spaghetti, ribs and veal at Nick’s Spaghetti House, one of the oldest Italian restaurants in the city. His own mother could speak Italian and he always felt it was a privilege to grow up in the Italian district.


To honour my father, I ordered what he would have picked. Veal Parmigiana with Vegetable Linguine ($11.99). Damn this was good! The breaded cutlet was still crispy despite the soft cheese layer and zesty tomato sauce. I could detect lemon in the veal, which help cut into the richness of the dish.


The pasta was soft and slippery. The marinated zucchini and eggplant was surprisingly flavourful, in a subdued way. Delicious.


Next time I want to try the pizza. The dough is prepared once you order. The crust is thin, so it takes no time to bake in the oven.

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After lunch I strolled around and picked up extra virgin olive oil ($25.99); ladyfingers ($3.99); parmesan cheese ($12.00); brie ($4.00); fresh buffalo mozzarella ($8:00); dried lasagna noodles; dried pasta; pesto; sun dried tomatoes; fresh bread, anchovy paste and candy for my co-worker M.



I left $100.00 lighter but a whole lot happier. I found a great store with quality products from Italy at excellent prices. Better yet, I can get a taste of home and tell my father all about it. He’ll be happy to hear I found an Italian supermarket that serves up food even better than what we could find on the Drive.
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Italian · Patio

Garden Patio Date Night at Bonterra Trattoria


L and I have several trips planned, which means lots of eating out. So for the next six months, I am self-imposing one restaurant meal per week. This means when I do go out, I sure as heck won’t waste it on a chain restaurant (no offence White Spot, you know I love you).

This week’s rationed restaurant meal was at Bonterra Trattoria. We snagged a seat on their city renowned garden patio. When we sat down, I realized why they win best patio category in various magazines. The spacious patio is outfitted with flowers and covered overhead, which is handy in Calgary’s hail fraught summer. I also like the view of the sky scrappers. A male server noticed I was rubbing my goose pimpled arms and he kindly offered to kick on the heater. After two minutes, I was warm and cozy.

I liked our female server too. She had this no nonsense aura about her. I like the way she thinks – she analyzed which wine I should drink and which pasta I should order based on what I told her I did and didn’t like. She picked a glass of chianti ($13) which was a heavier, berry-like red.

We ate some complimentary rosemary focaccia while we waited for our appetizer. Fluffy with a nice crust not the outside, it was the perfect vessel to soak up the olive oil and salty chopped up olives.

On Yelp, I read that reviewers loved the antipasti at Bonterra. We ordered the Antipasti Piatti ($36), which contained three imported cheeses, about four meats, and tons of pickled vegetables.

L enjoyed the high quality meats. My favourite item were the fresh tomatoes. Oh my goodness. These were the best tomatoes ever. Sweet and juicy and ripe. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I also ate pickled beets, pickled cauliflower, pickled onions, olives, and some other vegetable that looked like a curly white noodle that was also pickled. I love pickled veggies but I thought it was a bit much for me. I did dig the cranberry mustard, which was tart.

I told my server that I loved fat noodles, but the sausage on the Garganelli alla Salsiccia ($19) didn’t appeal to me. She was nice enough to do a special order for me. I got my fat noodles, but with a mix of chicken, arugula, and those tomatoes I love so much. L ordered the Linguine Carbonara ($17.00).

I don’t normally eat at Italian restaurants because I find I can replicate the food well enough at home. Well, eating at Bonterra proved me wrong. These are pastas I can’t make at home. And unlike Buon Giorno, each pasta was very different from each other and didn’t taste the same.

The chicken in my pasta was almost delicate in flavour. In fact, all the ingredients were subtle. The sweetness of the tomatoes. The peppery flavour of the arugula. I really enjoyed the addition of the warm roasted pine nuts.

L’s pasta was like buttery heaven. The wild boar bacon added a smokey flavour.
Though the spaghetti noodles were so thin and fine, it was still al dente. We noted that Bonterra doesn’t rely on rich heavy sauces to give their pastas flavour.


One last thing I noticed. When we were standing inside to wait for our table, all the staff were very courteous, asking us if we were looked after. The chefs in the open kitchen were busy making kick-ass food, but you could hear them cheerfully converse with each other.

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