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Posts tagged ‘Italian’

Restaurant Review: Prego

Location: 200 Barclay Parade SW

Another delightful evening catching up with Carmen over a delicious meal. For those like me, who had no idea, this restaurant is located on the second floor of the Eau Claire mall.

Carmen prefaced the meal (on our walk over) with a comment to the effect that this restaurant used to be so much better in the past. Even with that, I went in with a critical mind, as I often do for these meals.

We started with the Gamberi Agrodolce – jumbo shrimp sautéed with cherry tomatoes and spinach, dressed in a balsamic reduction. My biggest concern with cooked spinach is that it will get overcooked and become chewy and develop this taste/texture that I can’t describe in English (I know the word in Chinese, but that doesn’t help me here). I generally don’t like cooked tomatoes because they become quite mushy when warm, but I don’t mind eating them when they are featured in dishes such as this. The dish was well seasoned and the olive oil and balsamic reduction was great for dipping the bread into.

For our mains, I ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara and Carmen had the Vitello Piccatta. I think I’ve only ever had Spaghetti Carbonara like once or twice before, so while I knew what ingredients went into making one, I didn’t really know what to expect from one. Based on knowing the ingredients, I was able to imagine the flavour profile and this dish met all my expectations. The sauce was creamy and there was a good ratio of bacon to noodles. The sauce was a little more runny than I’m used to, but it’s great for dipping bread into, which I love to do with my pasta. The veal was very thinly pounded (scallopini), topped with sautéed mushrooms and dressed with a lovely light lemon and white wine sauce. This was my first time having veal prepared this way and it was really good. The mains come with seasonal vegetables and a choice of either pasta with a tomato basil sauce or roasted potatoes. Carmen opted for the potatoes since I had offered to share my carbonara.

For dessert, Carmen ordered the dessert of the day: a lemon white chocolate cheesecake and I had the chocolate pâté. Due to Carmen’s allergies, the cheesecake came without the berry compote, but regardless, Carmen expressed that she really enjoyed the dessert. The chocolate pâté was nothing like I’ve ever had before. The best way I could describe it is a slightly heavier version of frozen mousse. It was everything the menu promised. It was heavenly, but to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever had a dessert as luxurious as the ones that I had at Famoso. I still dream about that panna cotta. Of course, I had to get an espresso with my dessert. Coffee and dessert have kinda become my thing. The espresso came with a piece of biscotti, almond, I believe it was. The biscotti was delicious, both by itself and dipped into the espresso. This is one of the things I would certainly order again.

Service was excellent. Our server had a quality I expect from a fine dining establishment and it certainly felt like we were at a higher end place despite its location and the view from our window seat. The view left much to be desired and the food was good, but not excellent. I’m not sure that I would return here again, but I might stop by for lunch as I’ve been told that they do a fast lunch service.

Based on this experience, I’d give this place a 2.5/5.

Restaurant Interior
Gamberi Agrodolce
Vitello Piccatta
Spaghetti Carbonara
Lemon White Chocolate Cheesecake
Chocolate Pâté
Espresso with Almond Biscotti

Restaurant Review: Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria

Location: 125 Stewart Green SW (Westhills Towne Centre)

When the place first opened, I had heard so much about it. The place was always packed, which I took to be a good sign, but one day, my dad tried it and said that it was horrible and as such, we never got the chance to try it out as a family. I’m not the kind of person who would dismiss something as important as food based solely on someone else’s opinion. I would keep it at the back of my mind, certainly, but I wanted to form my own opinion of the place. I waited and waited and today, my patience was rewarded.

After a relaxing day of pedicures, facials, and shopping, Alex and I headed to Famoso for dinner. The restaurant was practically empty when we arrived (probably because it was a weird time) and we seated ourselves. We promptly perused the menu and decided on an eggplant parmigiana as a starter. We both chose to do the 7″ pizza with a caesar salad side.

I started with a drink. Something I’ve never tried before: a raspberry ginger beer. After a few sips, I decided that ginger beer isn’t for me.

Originally, I was going to be adventurous and try out the Spicy Thai Pizza, but under pressure, I defaulted to my usual, the Funghi. Alex went with a classic Margherita. When the pizzas came out, there was no question that the Funghi pizza contained white truffle oil. Even though I knew there was truffle oil (as this is my go to pizza, but also, the menu indicated that there was truffle oil), the smell still caught me off guard. It made me worried that the dish would be overpowered by the taste of white truffle oil; however, the taste was not nearly as strong as the smell (thank goodness). The salad was very lightly dressed, almost to the point that I couldn’t even detect the dressing. My personal preference when it comes to caesar salad is for it to be dressed a little more aggressively and be a lot more garlicky. I know that that much garlic isn’t for everyone (especially if we have to go back to the office and/or to a meeting afterwards because if I have to do either of those things I’ll go easy on the garlic), but the level of garlickiness in Van Gogh’s caesar salad (if they still make them the way they do, since I haven’t been back in like a year) will always be my benchmark for a good caesar salad.

The highlight of the meal ended up being dessert. We ordered four. Alex got the affogato with the salted caramel gelato and a tiramisu, and I ordered a mango (the seasonal flavour) sorbetto and white chocolate panna cotta.

All the desserts were composed with perfection in mind. Each bite was absolute luxury. I started with the mango sorbetto because it has the potential to melt. BEST. SORBETTO. I. HAVE. EVER. HAD! It was so fresh that I could almost taste the texture of the mango. Alex started with the affogato for the same reason. I’ve had affogatos before (at Made by Marcus) and I can say definitively that pistachio gelato is not a good choice to use in an affogato because of its delicate flavour, it gets lost against the strong espresso flavour. The salted caramel is a much better choice for an affogato. Although I’m not typically a fan of salted caramel, its strong flavour is a great pairing with the espresso and it is absolutely delicious. I think, following that same vein of thought, the salted caramel dark chocolate would also be delicious because chocolate and coffee are a classic pairing. Then came the panna cotta and tiramisu. The panna cotta was to die for. The creamy texture was perfection. I don’t consider white chocolate a chocolate, more like a block of fat and sugar, but absolutely loved it in this preparation. The chocolate slivers shaved on top and strawberry coulis provided just the right touch to balance out the flavours in the dish. The tiramisu was equally excellent. There was no question that it had been composed with mascarpone.

My overall experience was extremely pleasant and I would gladly return here. Next time, I hope to try the Spicy Thai pizza. Perhaps we’ll make it here after nine after archery one day (1/2 priced pizzas!) . Based on that experience, I would give this place a 4/5.

Restaurant Interior
Restaurant Interior
Raspberry Ginger Beer
Eggplant Parmigiana
7″ Margherita with Caesar
Funghi with Caesar
Going clockwise from top left: affogato with salted caramel gelato, tiramisu, mango sorbetto, and white chocolate panna cotta

Restaurant Review: Teatro Ristorante

Location: 200 8 Ave SE

I have wanted to try this restaurant out since the first time I got into food. This restaurant is owned by the Teatro Group which is responsible for amazing restaurants, eateries, cafes and so on such as Vendome, EAT, Cucina, and Al Forno, just to name a few (I’ve been to all of these places). I’ve had pretty good experiences at all of these places, with the exception of a couple things at Al Forno that I found to be too greasy. We had gone there when it first opened so they may have still been ironing out a few kinks, so I wouldn’t be opposed to going back. Besides, Al Forno is known for its fantastic, house made bread which I’ve had before (or at least I think I’ve had), so if they make focaccia that amazing, they can’t be all bad right?

We came here for Teatro’s happy hour, which is essentially just the appetizer and salad sections of their menu, at 50% off. Walking in here can be intimidating and it’s so hard for me not to adopt airs walking into a place like this, but given the way I was dressed…well, we’ll just leave it at that. I mean, it wasn’t terrible because I had just come from work so I was dressed moderately appropriately, but I felt that my shoulder bag was out of place for somewhere like Teatro.

Walking in, this has got to be the most grand restaurant I’ve ever walked into, apart from Bank and Baron. However, the atmosphere is completely different from Bank and Baron. Teatro is high class; there is no doubt about that. I’m drawn to historical building such as these and it was hard not to stare at everything in awe. This is the level of luxury I hope to achieve one day in my life.

Carmen had already been seated when I walked in and there was no time for me to even take in the place when I was greeted. Immediately, the waiter offered to take my jacket and showed me to my table where Carmen was waiting. We took some time to peruse the menu and while their food menu is reasonably small, their wine menu is not. It’s not surprising in a place like this to have a 40 page wine menu, but at the same time, I’ve never been to a restaurant with a 40 page wine menu.

After some time, we decided to each get our own appetizers. Both of us chose the calamari. I decided to have a Caprese Salad and Carmen went with the Caesar. Probably because I had good company and we had so much to talk about and catch up on, it didn’t feel like the wait was all that long. The presentation of the dishes were beautiful. I loved the contrast of the colours of the tomatoes in the Caprese salad, and was incredibly impressed by the fact it was fresh buffalo mozzarella on the plate rather than boccoccini or just fresh mozzarella made from cow’s milk. The addition of the fleur de sel on the mozzarella gave the dish the slight hit of sodium it needed and the surprisingly, fresh ground pepper elevated the dish to another level. The squid ink crisp provided an interesting focal point on the calamari dish for an otherwise monotonous plate. It seemed like the breading on the calamari was lighter than most places I had been to, but the lemon aioli was a little lost in everything. Especially when comparing it to the lemon-caper aioli from Escobar, this one didn’t quite measure up. The Caesar was interesting to me because they had actually left the romaine lettuce leaves whole, but you could tell they were the best ones, at the centre of the heart of the romaine. What is interesting about this Caesar is that they chose to use guanciale rather than bacon or pancetta and that there were whole anchovies on the plate. I know that there are anchovies in Caesar dressing, but I’ve never had the whole fish feature in my Caesar. The other interesting thing was the soft boiled egg. Typically, I don’t think of Caesars as having an egg, but the creaminess of the egg yolk functioned like additional dressing, enhancing the dish. The bright yellow-orange of the yolk provided the Caesar with that much needed colour pop. However, from my vantage point the egg appeared to be more medium than soft.

Due to a slight mix up, we were seated at a table that had been reserved for a larger party, so as a result, we had to move to the bar. For the inconvenience, the restaurant decided not to charge us for dessert. For dessert I chose to go with the traditional route, tiramisu, while Carmen had difficulty choosing between the tiramisu, bomboloni, cannoli, and the s’more. I totally don’t blame her because all of them were so unique that I will have to go back simply to try all the desserts. Eventually she settled on the Ricotta Bomboloni. While bomboloni are traditional Italian doughnuts that are vaguely reminiscent of timbits, Teatro took the classic and put a twist on it by serving it with a cheddar gelato, roasted apple, and a caramel tuile.

While there were times that the servers intimidated me, it was not simply because of the type of place we were in, but because I wasn’t used to that level of promptness in service. I was completely impressed by how they all went above and beyond what I had felt to be standard service (by the end of the meal, we had gone through at least 3 servers, but there was continuity between all of them). As Carmen has allergies and many sensitivities, they like Escobar were very cognizant and asked all the necessary questions to ensure we would have a great experience there and we did. I would 100% return here and go for a full experience (appetizer, salad, soup, main, dessert). Of course the bill would come out to be quite hefty, but I think it was definitely worth it.

This place has got to be one of the best restaurants I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating at. Based on my experience, I would give this restaurant a 4.75/5.

Teatro Interior
Teatro Interior
Teatro Ceiling
Teatro Interior (view from the bar)
Back: Caesar Salad Left: Calamari Front: Caprese Salad
Ricotta Bomboloni

Restaurant Review: The Pizza Press

Location: 1534 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA

On our way in to our hotel, we passed this place.  It was, of course, Braeden who suggested we try it out.  After all, it is pizza and what does he love more than that? I didn’t mind since I hadn’t had pizza in a while, but more importantly, I was starving and any food sounded good to me.

We walked in at around 8pm local time and found it to still be quite bustling.  On the door, the hours stated that the place was open until 1am, one hour after the Disney Park closed, a perfect time and place to satiate any late night cravings.  From our vantage point, it was hard to see any details about the pizzas they had on their menu.  Luckily, they had smaller menus on double sided cards for us to peruse.  “The Herald” caught my attention right away.  It was the only pizza on the menu with a white sauce.  It also helped that there were onions and mushrooms on it, two of my favourite pizza toppings; I was sold. Despite not liking tomatoes on my pizza, with the exception of the actual tomato sauce, I decided to go with the pizza as is since that combination was chosen by the chef, I would give it a try first before changing anything because who knew, maybe I would end up liking it.  Braeden stuck to his familiar Hawaiian pizza, only here it was called The Sun and had bacon on it.  Honestly, before I could have cared less for bacon, but recently, after having fried up some pretty good maple bacon, I’m warming up to it.  The great thing about this place is that every pizza is customizable.  It’s clear that the chefs here take a lot of pride and care in what they do.  One in particular, I’m sorry I didn’t catch his name, asked each and every customer about his or her day.  It’s small things like that that make a place special.  Now I’m not saying that it’s not done at other places, but as this had a more fast food feel to it, it seemed different.  Like they actually cared.  He actually asked for details not like many other places where people ask as an automatic opener.

However, what struck me first was the way the place was setup.  Or rather, the theme that the place had.  I suppose the fact that it was called The Pizza PRESS should’ve clued me in.  The place is setup like a newspaper press.  The titles of the pizzas are related to common suffixes added to newspaper titles (ex. The Calgary Herald, The Calgary Sun, The Alberta Gazette, etc.).  Each step we had to take from ordering our pizza to customizing it to paying for it had a different “label” assigned that corresponded with some part of the editing/publishing process.  But what got me the most excited was the fact that there was a typewriter on display right on the counter.  And if I remember correctly, it was right between the two cash registers.

Since it was late, we opted to take the pizzas back tot the hotel to enjoy.  Since it was only a short walk from our hotel, the pizzas didn’t have a chance to get cold.  One bite and I was in love.  I remember thinking and saying to Braeden, “this is how [thin crust] pizza should be.”  The pizza here was vaguely reminiscent of the ones I had in Italy, only that the ones in Italy were more burnt and had less toppings.

Would I recommend coming here? Absolutely.  Would I come back here?  You bet.  The staff were friendly, the food was great, I didn’t have to wait long for my pizza.  They even have beer on tap (not that I drink beer, but it’s still pretty cool since beer and pizza are a classic pairing).  Of the many pizzas I’ve eaten, I have to say this place ranks in the top tiers.  Though it’s not my favourite food, I would still rate this place a 3.75/5.  I can’t say I’d give it a higher rating until I had the chance to dine in.  I guess there is only one bad thing I can say about this place, I can’t stop eating. It’s that good.

Restaurant Review: Via Cibo

Location: 101-104 Country Village Rd NE

Years ago, I went here with my parents and sister after our trip to Italy, but I don’t remember much of it.  The only thing I remember of that trip was getting a macchiato and having my dad say, “That’s even stronger than what I drink.” It made for a good laugh.

This time, I had the fortune of going with my boyfriend, his cousin, and her kids. The best part about this was that we got to share everything family style, allowing us to try out more dishes off their menu. Via Cibo isn’t like your typical sit down restaurant. It’s setup more like Vendome’s is: you order at the counter and are given a number. Once the dishes have been prepared, they are brought out to your table.

Most everyone had a generic drink (soft drink or juice), but I ordered an Italian soda. Since they had cherry, I went for it. Usually it’s my sister who has the Italian soda, but today I felt adventurous. There was a nice balance of syrup to carbonated water making it so that it wasn’t too bland or too sweet.

That evening we ordered a pepperoni pizza for Braeden and two formaggio (cheese) pizzas off the children’s menu (which is actually a meal combo which comes with a drink and gelato) for Cindy’s kids, Keenah and Taye. The pepperoni pizza isn’t like the chain pizza joints’ style of pepperoni pizza. The crust was thin where the toppings were and airy around the edges.  It was garnished with rosemary which set it apart from most other kinds of pepperoni pizza, giving it an almost more high class, refined taste. And the pepperoni tasted like cured meat usually tastes, unlike pepperoni on store bought or chain pizza restaurants, which tastes just like salt.  Cindy and I ordered the Gnocchi and Steak Italiana to share. The Gnocchi was a no brainer as it had been a recommendation from Cindy/a friend of hers.  The Gnocchi consisted of a Gorgonzola cream sauce, pancetta, and slow roasted tomato, garnished with green onion and Grana Padano. I am typically apprehensive about dishes that contain Gorgonzola or any form of bleu cheese because of its strong taste and smell. However, this was not the case with this dish. For those who don’t know, pancetta is essentially Italian bacon, which of course enhanced the flavour of the dish, potentially masking.  Another reason could be that Gorgonzola is a milder bleu cheese than others I have had. One bite of the gnocchi was all it took to send me to cloud nine. If luxury was a dish, this would be it. The richness of the dish made me feel as though I was dining in a high end, expensive restaurant rather than a place serving Italian street food. My only reservation about this dish is the addition of the tomatoes. They did not serve to enhance the flavour or add anything to the dish. The second thing, I’m not sure if this is a reservation or not, but the balance of gnocchi to pancetta was off. I’m not sure if that was originally how it was or if it was because the gnocchi was so good that we were too focused on eating that and not paying attention to the pancetta. The Steak Italiana was something more reminiscent of Italian street food. It consisted of Grilled Steak, arugula, carmelized onion, slow roasted tomato, Grana Padano, and a Pesto Aioli. The steak was perfectly cooked.  The tomatoes had far more utility in this dish than in the gnocchi. There was a nice balance of sweet (tomatoes and onions), salty (steak and Grana Padano), bitter (arugula), and richness (onion and aioli) in the sandwich. The sandwich came with a small salad that provided the acid the dish needed. However, since we got so much food, I wasn’t able to finish the salad on my own. Lastly we got Tuscan fries to share (regular for the kids). The Tuscan fries were aggressively seasoned with rosemary and salt with a hint of white truffle oil, garnished with Grana Padano and served with a spicy aioli. I found the fries to be a little on the salty side, but they had good flavour and crunch.

For dessert the children consisted of Nutella gelato. Brae got the mango pineapple gelato, and I got a pistachio affogato. Turns out Brae loved it so much that after we left, we actually came back later that evening to get another one and came back again the following day. This was my first time getting an affogato. An affogato is  gelato with a shot of espresso. Although I chose pistachio, I feel like coconut or something creamier (chocolate -which they were out of- or vanilla) would have complemented the espresso better because pistachio has such a light flavour that it got lost. The next day, when Brae came to get his mango pineapple gelato, I got the coconut one. It is more like a sorbetto than a gelato and I’m thinking it probably wouldn’t have worked any better.

If I had another stomach I would’ve tried the mushroom pizza they had on special. If their pizza was anything like the one I had at Scopa, I would have died. That pizza is truly the most amazing, delicious pizza I have had in my life. Maybe next time I go they’ll still have it.

Based on my experience this time, I would rate it 4.5/5 and would definitely return. I love restaurants with an open kitchen so that I can watch them cook, but also because I can see exactly how far along they are along with my dish and watch them walk my food out to me. The wait staff was patient and very helpful and friendly. I can’t wait to come back here again another day.






Formaggio (Cheese) Pizza


Tuscan Fries


Steak Italiana


Pepperoni Pizza


Mango Pineapple Gelato


Pistachio Affogato

Restaurant Review: Carino Bistro

Location: 709 Edmonton Tr NE

From the first time I saw a review of this place in a food magazine, it was on my list of place to go. Last night I had the chance to try it out. I’d like to call this “date night” officially, as this felt more like the traditional, stereotypical categorization of what a date looks like.

Since getting my opentable account, I’ve been wanting to go to more restaurants to earn points that could in turn be redeemed at select restaurants as a credit, so to speak. I had made my reservations at Carino about a week earlier. I had made the reservation for about 5:30 giving us plenty of time to get lost and/or account for any unforeseen delays. After a rather uneventful day at work, we arrived early to the restaurant to find the door still locked. The building is very easy to miss, we drove by twice and nearly walked past it. You have to really be looking for it to find it. Not only were we early for our 5:30 reservation, we were so early the place hadn’t even opened yet! We returned to the car to wait and as usual conversations and time spent with Braeden often flies by far too fast. Before we knew it, it was time to head on in.

When we arrived, only one family was seated near the window, all the other tables displayed a “reserved” sign. We were promptly seated and handed menus. Though I had looked at the menu before hand, I still had no idea what I wanted. In the review I had read, it had suggested the Duck! Duck!! Duck!!!, but that also happened to be the most expensive menu item and I wasn’t sure how much foie gras I could handle. I’ll save this dish for next time I visit with my sister because I know if I can’t finish it, she will. The waitress came by three or four times, but I still couldn’t decide on what it was I wanted. I finally decided to go with an appetizer to share (which really turned into me eating most of it) and “combine” two appetizer for my main entree. Braeden decided on the Teriyaki Wagyu Beef Burger with some modifications: regular mayo instead of wasabi mayo, no mushrooms, opting to go with a brioche instead of rice bun and adding bacon. Unfortunately, they missed adding the bacon with all the other requests they had to account for (and luckily it was not added to the bill).

The appetizer I had chosen was the Ahi Tuna Poke served with tortilla chips. In my opinon, they weren’t exactly tortilla chips, more like wonton crisps, but that increased it’s deliciousness (following more of an Asian theme, tortilla would have thrown the entire dish off in a completely different direction and as this is an Italian-Japanese-French fusion restaurant, Mexican doesn’t really fit into the picture very well). It was well seasoned, although a bit salty, it worked for the poke. The addition of arugula, the Italian twist, really worked for me; it provided a different flavour profile to the dish, giving it a much needed fresh lift. With the meal beginning on such a high note, I had high expectations for the subsequent dishes. There wasn’t too long of a wait time between the appetizer and the mains, which I was to be expected as we were currently the only other table in the restaurant. As I said earlier, Brae made so many modifications that when his burger came out it kinda looked boring (I would have really like to have tried it with the mushrooms on there because I love pretty much all kinds of mushrooms with the exception of canned mushrooms and straw mushrooms). The wagyu beef blew me away. The seasoning was spot on, the burger was succulent and chockful of onions, giving it a sweet, aromatic, depth (but as Brae doesn’t like onions, that wasn’t great for him lol). The first thing I noticed was that the ketchup tasted different from most other places, in a good way; it was sweeter and was enhanced by the hint of herbs. I ordered the goma (sometimes spelled gomae) caesar salad adding in the calamari. If you’ve read my other reviews, you’ll know I’m in love with calamari and intend to try them at all the restaurants I go to. Although the portion size looks small, it was very filling. I enjoyed the inclusion of slices of Fuji apple. The calamari provided the oil component to the dish, the apple the sweet, the kale the bitter, the dressing and bacon the salty, the jalapeno the acid, and the aioli for the calamari the spicy. My biggest problem with it though was that the salad was way too overdressed. At first I could manage by scrapping the vast majority of the dressing off, but eventually that became unbearable and I was unable to finish the salad.

Despite those minor hiccups, I’d say it was a pretty good meal. The waitress was ever attentive to us, making sure that our glasses were almost always full. Yes, it was a bit pricy, but that’s the cost of getting good quality food and service. I will most certainly return and next time I will try one of the mains I had been eyeing. Based on my experience this time round, I’d give it a rating of 3.75/5

carino interior.jpg

Carino Interior

Carino interior 2.jpg

Carino Interior

ahi tuna poke.jpg

Ahi Tuna Poke

wagyu beef burger.jpg

Teriyaki Wagyu Beef Burger

goma salad with calamari.jpg

Goma Caesar Salad with Calamari

Restaurant Review: Scopa

Location: 2220 Centre St. NE

This was a lunch I never expected to have. A while back, a friend of mine wanted to hang out and I suggested this place, but those plans fell through and I didn’t think much of it. Sure I had been working next to this place for a while, even back when it was Boccavino, I never had the chance to try it out. In a spur of the moment kind of thing, I headed over to this place with my boyfriend.

We were promptly seated and water arrived shortly after. The waiter was very attentive and made sure to check in in a timely manner that didn’t come off as being too frequent. I knew I wanted pasta because at an Italian restaurant, the deciding factor for me is their pasta and how well they cook it. I was initially torn between the orecchiette and the tagliatelle, but also debated getting the spaghetti as well. I ultimately chose to go with the tagliatelle. My boyfriend chose to have the Scopa Burger. After ordering, the waiter brought by some bread, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. I’m not entirely sure what kind of bread it was (I know with certainty it was not focaccia though), but the bottom appeared as though it had been fried, leaving more than just a greasy smear on my plate. It reminded me a bit of the lemony-rosemary type bread/spread on my bread when I went to Al Forno. The wait didn’t seem too long, but maybe because I had good company.  Upon its arrival, I thought that the tagliatelle was quite small, I was about to find out just how filling it was. The pasta sauce was more like whole stewed tomatoes slightly mashed (some were actually still whole) mixed with the tagliatelle topped with five polpette (veal meatballs). The pasta was the biggest disappointment to me. Although the flavours were all there, the pasta was way overcooked and if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s overcooked pasta (well under cooked pasta’s pretty bad too, it’s pretty much inedible). I barely got through half the thing before I had to stop, but that may have to do more with the fact that I had so much bread. The burger was served on a board, giving it a semi rustic feel. It was served with what appeared to be a lemon aioli, but there was something else I couldn’t detect. My boyfriend ordered the burger medium rather than their usual medium rare, which may have been a contributing factor. He probably ate about half of it and decided not to finish it, opting to eat the fries instead. The fries were pretty good, very thinly sliced, reminding me more of hickory sticks than fries.

Overall, I’d say it wasn’t the worst restaurant I’d been to, but it’s also not one of the best. Great service, but as a restaurant, the food needs to speak for itself. That it did not. For the price that it was, I was expecting a lot more, this place just fell flat. 2.25/5

restaurant interior scopa.jpg

Restaurant Interior


Tagliatelle Polpette

burger scopa.jpg

Scopa Burger

Restaurant Review: La Viena

Location: 802 16 Ave NW

First impressions are everything and this place is no exception. I was first recommended this restaurant when it was still in Kensington, but I never got the chance to go until now. A friend of mine worked their briefly and praised it quite highly, my dad went and said that I would like it, so I was really expecting a lot from this place. I’m sorry to say that all my expectations were disappointed.

La Viena’s new location is on 16th Ave, where the North Hill Steakhouse used to be. The interior is a bit old and dingy, but it also gives off a homey kind of vibe. We had to wait for a good ten minutes before anyone noticed that we had come in. In fact, a small line had formed behind us by the time someone came to the front to seat us. We were seated and promptly given water and some bread and butter. Normally our family doesn’t take long to decide what we want to eat, average about five minutes or so; today was no exception. We decided on our mains and an appetizer, but the waiter was nowhere in sight. We thought that when he returned with our drinks we could order right away, we were wrong. He dropped off our drinks and my dad made to order, but the guy just walked away. For the next ten to fifteen minutes we spent our time trying to flag down the waiter, which was so annoying because he just kept pretending not to see us. At one point he was just standing there doing nothing and I was like seriously? We quickly ordered and waited for our food to come. While we waited, we munched on some of the bread and flavourless whipped butter. I mean, it was nice that there was complementary bread and butter, but when it’s just like oil on bread, it’s not even worth eating. The bread wasn’t even warm, which was a tad disappointing to me. The next disappointment didn’t wait long to manifest. The waiter came with our mains, apologizing that our appetizer had somehow been given to another table. He didn’t sound like he even cared as he asked if we still wanted it. I  did, so we asked for him to bring it. The only plus to it was that it did essentially come out in thirty seconds as he promised, but it was not good. The calamari was weird, I’m not quite sure how to explain it, but I’ll give it go. It was easy to bite through but there were like some strands that were really elasticky and snapped against my lip which kinda hurt. The tomato dipping sauce was far too runny to be considered a dipping sauce. If you expect me to dip something into it, it has to be able to stick to whatever it is that’s being dipped into it. We ended up having to “scoop” the tomato sauce on with the calamari and awkwardly balance it without it falling off and splattering on the table. The only good thing about the calamari was the crunch, but even so, the batter didn’t hold together well and it crumbled if too much force was applied.

For my main, I ordered the Penne Hawaii at the behest of my friend who used to work here, my mom had the Filetto Di Salmone Granchio and my dad had the Vitello alla Gambertti Pepper (I think). My first thought when my dish was presented to me was, “that’s not penne.” It was closer to either rigatoni. However, presentation is only half of it, the other half is the taste. I always try my dishes before I add anything to it and, despite the description on the menu stating that the sausage was hot, it was not, prompting me to have to add a sprinkling of cayenne to add that much needed kick to the dish. It was a unique take on Italian with the addition of pineapples to the dish and surprisingly it worked. Overall, it was a pretty good dish. There was a good balance of heat, sweet, and savory. And I was happy to say that there was a fair amount of meat, so I didn’t have to go searching for it. The pineapples, thankfully didn’t taste overcooked, but it was still hot as hell. But if it’s Italian, my pasta better be al dente, it wasn’t. My mom said her dish was okay, the capers were a bit salty and the promised crab meat nowhere to be found (she found it later dispersed in the white wine sauce). When the waiter dropped off the calamari, he offered my dad pepper…only my dad. My mom was annoyed since she would have really liked some pepper on her fish which tasted fishy (like it’s going bad or has been frozen and thawed out, just not fresh) and the pepper would have helped to diminish the taste. On another note, so would a lemon, but that wasn’t provided either. My dad’s veal and shrimps in a demi-glaze brandy and cream sauce looked kinda like gravy. It was brown and thick and looked generally unappealing. Luckily it tasted better than it looked. However, my dad said (not sure if he was complaining or just saying, can never tell with him) that the veal was not breaded. I personally didn’t have a problem with it being not breaded because the breading would have made the veal so much heavier and with a cream sauce that’s the last thing you’d want.

To round off the meal we finished with a tiramisu. Tiramisu, when made well can be amazing. This I can tell you was not. There was no coffee or wine flavour; it was cream with lady fingers and chocolate syrup. Not good.

Honestly this place was disappointment after disappointment. From the speed of service, to the temperature of food, to the fact that they gave our appetizer to someone else! There’s no other way to describe my disappointment than that I was so disappointed. So much hype for nothing. Based on everything that’s happened, I’d have to rate this place a 2.5/5.



Bread and Butter

Bread and Butter



Penne Hawaii

Penne Hawaii

Vitello Alla Gambertti Pepper

Vitello Alla Gambertti Pepper

Filetto Di Salmone Granchio

Filetto Di Salmone Granchio



Restaurant Review: Mercato

Location: 5000-873 85 St SW

An impromptu lunch with my parents found me sitting at this high end restaurant. I have always loved Italian food and was super excited to try this place out. The restaurant had a fresh modern look and the hostess and waitress were very friendly in welcoming us. A truly Italian restaurant, there wasn’t “coffee” or “soda,” instead the coffee they had was an Americano and the soda? Italian soda, naturally (although Italian sodas didn’t really originate in Italy, or so I’ve been told) . I ordered the sparkling lemon. The bottle told me that it was made from lemons grown on the Amalfi coast and the first thought I had was “I was there…well sort of.” It is nothing like lemon water, nor is it like the citrus sodas that we have in North America. It’s light and not too fizzy, which was refreshing.

For our mains, my dad had a prime rib dish, my mom had the Carbonara, and I had the Timballo. The prime rib was pretty ordinary, so I won’t delve too deep into that one. It was cut into strips and topped with fried green onions and a fried egg. The Carbonara was fusilli rather than fettuccine as it usually is. Though on the salty side, it was flavourful. I enjoyed the subtle hint of what I thought to be white wine on my palate as an aftertaste. My dish was the biggest surprise to me. I had never had a Timballo before and had no expectations. Actually, I thought, by the description that it’d be more like ravioli rather than a giant pie looking thing. The other thing I didn’t expect was the pile of prosciutto on the side. I couldn’t handle the rawness of prosciutto when I was in Italy and I didn’t think I could handle it on my plate again today. But I gave it a try and it turned out not to be too bad. It’s definitely less salty than what I had in Italy and I think that they cooked it slightly to give it a bit of a crunch. The presentation of my dish was quite rustic, serving it on a chopping board. However, if the utensils had been a little sharper, maybe it would have made it easier to cut and eat. I was a bit disappointed by my dish for the lack of seasoning and the dryness of the the ricotta and kale filling. It made it hard to swallow. The pasta exterior wasn’t much better. The bottom had been cooked to crispiness and almost looked as though it had been browned a little too much (like almost burnt, just like 5 seconds more and it would have).

Price wise, Mercato is not nice on your wallet. Not in any sense of that word. Lunch on average is about $15-$20 depending on which main you order, while dinner can be anywhere from $25-$200 for a main, which is a bit insane. That $200 one better have gold, caviar, truffles, and whatever else is so expensive to warrant that kind of price.

Unless Mercato steps up it’s game and serves up food true to its pricing, I won’t be coming back. I was thoroughly disappointed by the inconsistency in seasoning and feel that it’s ridiculous to expect that much from its patrons if it can’t even do that. I did not enjoy my lunch in the least. Unfortunately, first impressions are everything, so for today’s performance I will have to give Mercato a 2.5/5.














Sparkling Lemon Beverage

Sparkling Lemon Beverage (Lurisia La Nostra Gazzosa Con Il Vero Limone Sfusato di Amalfi)

Complimentary Bread and Olives served with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar for dipping

Complimentary Bread and Olives served with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar for dipping






Prime Rib

Prime Rib


Restaurant Review: Chianti

Location: 300-20 Crowfoot Crescent NW

To find  a restaurant review written on a place I go to with my parents is rare because I hardly ever take pictures, so keep that in mind if you read any of my future reviews and they are pictureless.

Chianti is one of my favourite Italian restaurants, the other being Green Olive. I love that their pasta is actually al dente not mush. But pasta texture isn’t everything, the flavour must be taken into consideration as well.

As usual, we started with an appetizer, calamari, which I’ve come to be quite the expert on. The batter on the calamari was quite crunchy and well seasoned, but after a few rings began to feel heavy due to the greasiness. I liked that they offered two types of sauces for dipping: tzatziki and marinara. It seems that several restaurants are now offering two dips with their calamari. Last week I was just at Milestones trying out their new menu and when we ordered the calamari they had a tartar and a marinara. Unfortunately, I hold an ambivalent stance in terms of the calamari at Milestones (though I’ve done my review on this restaurant, I must add this) because sometimes Milestones makes the mistake of not seasoning the batter for the calamari thinking that the dips would provide enough flavour or perhaps they’re concerned that in seasoning the calamari, it will be too salty. Whatever their reasoning is, I don’t know, but it leaves the calamari bland and rather difficult to eat. At Chianti’s I liked that the tzatziki sauce was a little on the thick side as there is nothing more annoying than wearing a garlic sauce on your clothes all night. One thing I would have preferred for the marinara is a bit of heat. A bit of heat or acidity would have helped to cut through the grease. It’s true that they gave us a wedge of lemon, but there was hardly enough lemon juice to taste a thing.

Italian isn’t something I get to go out for much as my sister dislikes it as much as I dislike sushi. It is tolerable, but not something she would choose to eat of her own free will. Whenever we go out, my mom always goes for something seafood-y, usually salmon. She ordered the Salmon Alla Peppi, which was  a piece of salmon, baked and topped with fresh strawberries, glazed with a honey and soy reduction and served with vegetables and potatoes. From what I glean from my mom, the dish had too much soy sauce in there and was way too salty, she said that Green Olive had the right balance was was much better in terms of taste. My dad ordered the combinazione della casa, which is something that he almost always gets either at Chianti’s or at Green Olive. I’ve had it at both and it’s pretty decent, especially when you want a variety of food. The combinazione della casa comes with baked cannelloni, spinach fettuccine alfredo, and veal parmigiana. It’s the best dish when you want to have both a cream sauce and tomato sauce (but not a rose sauce). My dad complained that his dish wasn’t really hot and pasta and veal should never be eaten warm or cold, especially since the cheese didn’t look like it had melted or at least if it did, it resolidified. I ordered the Caribbean Fettuccine, not for the fact there are mango chunks in it because I dislike cooked or warm mango, but for the curry cream sauce which is seriously the best! And I also love that they have fresh parmesan, not the powdered stuff.

The price was reasonable and affordable as Italian restaurants in this city always seems to overprice things (or at least the ones I’ve been to). I would definitely come back with friends for a good Italian night out. I would rate this place 4.5/5. Hopefully next time I go, I can take a few pictures.

UPDATE: I returned here today and got some pictures (YAY!) Unfortunately the restaurant is kind of dark, plus there was quite a lot of overcast so even with flash these pictures were dark and though I did my best to increase contrast and brighten the images, they still aren’t of the best quality. These two are what I usually order as I absolutely love their curry cream sauce and the combinazione della casa always gives me the choice of cream and tomato sauce on the same plate. One thing I forgot to mention last time is that I love their fresh parmesan so much that I never tell them to stop and they just look at me like “ok, that’s enough,” but really if I had it my own way, I’d eat the entire block of parmesan



Combo Casa

Combinazione della Casa

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