My beloved Jaime is in town! I haven’t seen my vegetarian friend since COVID. I suggested Noble Pie Pizza for our dinner date, as I know she appreciates a good pizza. For this post, let’s listen to “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd.
We ordered the Marinated Olives ($8) and a glass of the Venturini Baldini Lambrusco rosé ($13) to start. The green olive was our favourite of the bunch because the flesh was buttery and juicy. I loved the flavours of the fennel, citrus and rosemary in the marinade.
We ordered three pizzas in the new dine-in 13″ size – the Sweet Cheesus ($19), Brooklyn White ($19), and the Magic Pie ($19). We purposely ordered too much food, as we wanted to try everything. So much food was left over that we took an entire pie home.
The Sweet Cheesus was the simplest of the trio. Jaime thought this was more of a dessert than a savoury main because of the honey. The pizza was saucy and cheesy; the two prominent flavours were honey and Sicilian oregano. I can see this pizza being popular with kids. I learned this at my last family reunion, as my nephews and nieces would only eat cheese pizza.
Jaime’s favourite was the Brooklyn White. Man, this is one tasty pizza! The rich, heady flavours of the caramelized onions and sesame seeds were prominent. The ricotta was creamy and paired well with garlic, parsley, and cheeses. I would get this again.
I would also order the Magic Pie again. Miss Foodie recommended this secret menu item. She never steers me wrong. The fennel sausage was fatty (in a good way) and spicy, with a hint of licorice. The cream, basil, and fresh mozzarella made this gloriously decadent.
Jaime mentioned that New Yorkers eat their pizza slices folded in half. I tried this method and found one benefit – the crust enveloped all the saucy goodness. However, I’m not 100% sold on “To Fold or Not to Fold,” but I’m willing to try this methodology again.
I can’t wait to see more of Jaime in the future, now with COVID restrictions on the decrease. Perhaps our next visit can be to Italy, her favourite travel destination.
On Monday, L had a long day. I didn’t want to cook when I came home, so I told him I was taking him out for dinner. We wanted some place close, so I suggested Actually Pretty Good in Bankview. For this post, let’s listen to “Manic Monday” by The Bangles.
On the day we visited, all pizzas were on special for $15. The restaurant was packed, so we purchased tall cans of Cabin Brewing Company Supersaturation NEPA ($7), Eighty-Eight Brewing Co. Tiffany Rosé Saison ($7) and chilled out on the bench outside. We landed a patio seat in about ten minutes. Personally, I think restaurants with a queue should encourage drinking around their vicinity, as it takes the bite out of waiting.
Outside the restaurant, the music was more of a whisper. Even though we were in the parking lot, the makeshift patio worked. I noticed the hanging flower baskets emitted a sweet fragrance. L pointed out the lights strung up in the trees. The owners created a nice space.
We ordered two pizzas, the Full Nelson ($25, Monday $15) and the Capricciosa ($24, Monday $15). The first pizza to come out was the Full Nelson. The dough was light and crisp, with a clean taste. The crust was puffy with crispy air pockets. The pizza was creamy from the four kinds of cheeses and white sauce and salty from the minced-up prosciutto. The honey added a pleasing touch of sweetness.
The Capricciosa was the heavier of the two pies. This pizza was loaded with fior di latte and juicy from the artichokes, green olives, and cubed chili smoked ham. The sundried tomatoes added a tart brightness to the whole flavour profile.
There’s a lot to like about Actually Pretty Good. The beers are reasonably priced, the staff are friendly and hardworking, and the pizza is a wicked deal on Mondays. We had four pieces left over, and when reheated in our air fryer two days later, it was just as good as when we ate it fresh out of the oven. Hitting the Sauce gives Actually Pretty Good two phat thumbs up.
On Boxing Day, L and I had dinner at our family friend’s house. We originally planned to meet up for a double date at Cocoru but decided to meet at her house instead. For this post, let’s listen to “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynrd.
Celia told me she was ordering from Steveston Pizza, a restaurant well-known for its extravagant seafood pizzas. I told her I would bring takeout from L.A. Chicken, the O.G. for fried chicken in Richmond.
When I arrived at L.A. Chicken, there was already a long line-up. The small shop is managed by the owner and his wife. He would ring up an order, run to the kitchen to pack up the food, then hustle back to the register to take the following order. What struck me was how patient, and appreciative each customer was throughout this process. The majority of customers looked like regulars, and each would respectfully nod, thank the owner profusely for being open, and leave a tip in appreciation for his hard work. When it was my turn to order, I could see the visible stress on his face and the whites of his eyes as he glanced at the growing line. He looked like he was having a panic attack.
When I arrived at Celia’s house, I mentioned the owner looked like he was having a meltdown. She laughed and mentioned she’s eaten at L.A. Chicken for years and the owner always looks liike that, even in the middle of the day when the business is quieter. She equated the owner to the Soup Nazi in Seinfield and said he is a maestro when it comes to fried chicken. I disagreed and thought it was his wife who was the unsung hero, as I saw her cooking up all the chicken.
I laid out my 10-piece spread ($34.99) with half spicy, half regular fried chicken, gravy, fries and nuggets ($8.99). I read the spicy chicken has a crunchier batter than the regular chicken. Celia ordered an Earth Pizza ($28), Pepperoni ($20) and a Fiume Pizza ($32).
I only tried the Fiume Pizza because I can’t resist seafood. This pizza was piled high with enormous pieces of crunchy pesto shrimp. The smoked salmon and creamy white sauce were so flavourful and each bite was bursting full of shrimpy goodness.
The spicy chicken wasn’t very spicy. The seasoning was subtle, and the batter was extra crunchy. What made this chicken stand out from the other fast food joints was the juiciness and plumpness of the brined chicken. I liked the ratio of the meat to batter too. I find Korean chicken is more batter and sauce than meat. I also found the meat quality at L.A. chicken better than Popeye’s or KFC. L.A. Chicken makes good homestyle fried chicken.
The chicken nuggets were covered in a crunchy, crumbly breading. The meat was springier than McDonald’s nuggets and didn’t deflate or harden as the meat cooled. The fries were average and nothing special.
When I came home I told my mother Celia over-ordered. My mother asked me why Celia ordered so much food. I said I didn’t know. Celia had so much food leftover, she said she would ask her mother over for lunch. The following day, Celia’s mother called my mother and told her that her daughter made her come over to finish up the pizza. Hot gossip travels fast. Thanks, Celia for a lovely night.
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.
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.
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.
I got my shot! To celebrate, I picked one of the safest patios I know – Rooftop Bar Simmons. I like the restaurant’s reputation for transparency during COVID-19, and their safety protocols in place to protect customers. For this post, let’s listen to “Shots” by LMFAO, featuring Lil Jon.
The rooftop itself is large. I noticed that the tables were spaciously distanced. I brought my own blanket to keep cozy, but at six o’clock, it was still plenty warm.
Charcut and Charbar do an excellent job hiring staff. Our server Mark was fun and interesting. After I picked a bottle of wine ($70, Miguel Torres, La Causa País, Itata Valley, Chile, 2016), he poured me a little to swirl, smell and taste. I wasn’t feeling it. I told Mark that I didn’t want to sample the wine because I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. He said I was overthinking it and the whole purpose of trying the wine is to smell if the wine is off. That’s it, easy peasy.
I was so enamoured by the view of Bow River and the sun warming up my face, that I didn’t pay much attention to the wine. I found the wine easy drinking and non-offensive. With the good vibes and excellent service, I was already in the mood to celebrate. And everything tastes better with a view.
When Karplop arrived, I let her pick the pizza. She ordered the Fun Guy ($29), a New York style 16” inch round pizza. Thank goodness she took some pictures. As L has observed, I’m not known for my photography. I actually hate taking pictures, and it shows.
The crust was airy and light, and it held up to the heavy three cheese layer and pile of mushrooms. The mushrooms were plentiful and sliced thin. I liked the crisp texture of the mushrooms and the buttery flavour. Karplop enjoyed the saltiness of the pizza and the use of truffle oil. This was a super delicious pizza.
For a view, nice wine, excellent service and a quality pizza, you can’t go wrong here. I’d like to return with L, so he could see for himself the awesomeness that is the Rooftop Bar Simmons. If you know of any other rooftop gems, give me a shout.
L was too busy this weekend to indulge my banh mi fantasies. Instead, we picked up a pizza from Red Swan in Bowness. For this post, let’s listen to “Crimson and Clover” by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts.
Veggie Girl and Uncle B raved about the pizza at Red Swan, specifically the Three Cheese Pizza (Large $19.95, thin crust option). L wanted a meat pizza but I insisted we try the pizza Veggie Girl recommended. He eventually agreed, which surprised me. Whenever I try to get him to eat something meatless, he looks at me like I’m trying to poison him.
Pro tip – if you don’t eat the pizza immediately, reheat it in the oven. Some pizzas tasted as good or even better when cold. This is not one of them.
One of the best things about this pizza is the crust. I love the light and crunchy texture of the bread. The toasted sesame seeds on the crust added a buttery nuttiness.
The tomato sauce was tangy, and it tasted like there was coriander or some other fragrant spice or herb. The toppings aren’t heavy-handed like a Spiros or Hanni’s pizza. The amount of tomato sauce, feta, cheddar and mozzarella to crust was about 1:1. Personally, I enjoyed the simplicity of the three-cheese pizza. This was a nice change from the Greek-style pizza I normally eat.
We each ate three slices and we were full. The next day, L microwaved the last two slices of pizza and mentioned it reheated well. If I lived in the neighbourhood, I would definitely order again.
Pro tip – Red Swan offers free local delivery (some conditions apply), pick up specials and combo deals. They even make vegan, cauliflower and gluten-friendly pizzas. Give them a try – for the price, you can’t go wrong.
There’s so much bad news out there that I’ve been seeking things of a lighter nature to counter the negativity. My newest source is Calgary Food – FoodYYC, a Facebook group that discusses customers’ experiences at restaurants. For this post, let’s listen to “You’re so Vain” by Carly Simon.
Even in this group, you can’t get away from heated debate. As you can see below, there’s some dispute about what constitutes a real pizza. Jason Lepla is the type of person I would gladly invite over for a dinner party.
There is no shortage of pizza joints in Killarney: Bow Tie Pizza, Spiros, Sauce Italian Market, Grecos, Jeanne’s Pizza Pantry, Hannis Restaurant, Village Flatbread and Newcastle Pub. Most of my friends and family each have a personal preference, depending on how they like their pizza.
L’s favourite is Hanni’s, perhaps in part due to nostalgia. The night we moved into our first house, we ordered takeout from Hanni’s. Nine years later, we can vouch that the pizza has remained consistently delicious. The pizza is always good and every now and then, spectacular.
We only order the S.M.O.G (12 inch, $24.99), a pizza densely laden with Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions and green peppers. The tomato sauce is tangy, with aromatic notes of rosemary. The cheese comes in hot and heavy. The crust is thick and crunchy enough to stand up to the toppings. The sausage is abundant and generously sliced, so each piece is fat and juicy. This is a stick to your ribs style of pizza that is so comforting and satisfying on a cold winter’s night.
The price is right too. A large specialty pizza will feed three to four people. L and I usually eat two slices each, and then we eat the remaining four slices for breakfast and lunch. Note that if you order delivery and live within 6 km, the delivery fee is only $3.
Lovegastrogirl and I met up for girls’ night. Finding a restaurant for her is tricky. Based on her Instagram photos, the emerging themes are: a) spectacular view b) photogenic cocktails c) pretty plates of food. I picked the Roof Top Bar at Simmons for the view and because I wanted to try Connie and John’s pizza. For this post, let’s listen to “7 rings” by Ariana Grande.
Getting to the Roof Top Bar was a trial. I walked from my house, which is 7 km away. I’ve walked much further before without any issue, but this time I wore shoes without stockings. By the time I reached Chinatown, my ankles and the arch of my foot were raw and bloody. I limped into Chuen May and cried out, “Theresa, I’m not here for dim sum. I’m bleeding. Could I buy some band-aids from you?”
Theresa told me I was silly for offering to pay her. She and her sisters brought out a first aid kit and offered me five different types of band-aids, a disinfectant wipe and Polysporin. She even offered me extra ones to take with me. I thanked her profusely and told her I’d be back for my dim sum refill. Patched up, I was ready to go and made it just in time for my reservation.
Lovegastrogirl started off with a cocktail and I ordered a glass of white wine. She likes to snack and try a lot of dishes. I am not listing all the prices because Lovegastrogirl treated me out and some of the dishes she ordered were not on the website menu.
I am a fan of the nachos. The chips arrived blistering hot. Lovegastrogirl noted that the cheese was layered throughout the nachos and just not on the top. I liked the unique dipping sauce of dill and the hot heat from the hot peppers.
For my second beverage, I tried Connie and John’s pilsner ($10). I thought this was a sweet and easy to drinking beer. I knew I would like this beer since it’s from my favourite brewery – The Dandy Brewing Company.
Lovegastrogirl was craving oysters. The fresh oysters we received were thin and salty. If I had to guess, I would say these were an east coast variety. The oysters were accompanied with lime slices and hot sauce.
Lovegastrogirl likes her spuds and wanted to try the Greek Spiced Roasted Potato Wedges ($9). She enjoyed how the fries were poofy on the inside and crisp on the outside. Again, we got more of that lovely creamy dill sauce.
My favourite snack of the night was the featured Meaty Pizza By the Slice ($6.95). I loved the thick, melty layer of cheese. The crust was thin, crunchy and flavourful. Lovegastrogirl thought extra cheese was added to our slice because of the lacy cheese bubbles over the edges.
The view up here is something else and not something you can find easily in Calgary. Lovegastrogirl thought the vibe was very Vancouver. I would return for the view and the pizza in a heartbeat.
Thanks Lovegastrogirl for treating me out. I have a couple of ideas of where I can take you on our next date. There will be a clear view of me, and I promise the food, cocktails and ambience will deliver.