Personal is Tiny, Small is Small

Small Pizza

Small Pizza

I drove a friend to the University of Calgary clinic last week in the NW and while waiting for his tests, I stopped at Gus’ Pizza for lunch. It was half full when I walked in at 11:30am. By noon, the kitchen was filling takeout orders from people who worked in the Professional Building but luckily, I had my meal in front of me.

I decided to try the Small Pepperoni and Mushroom pizza and a can of Coke. When the pizza came, I was a little shocked at the size of it. I felt like asking the waitress if she had mistakenly dropped off a personal size pizza instead of a small but when she served the table next to me, I realized the personal size was tiny compared to my small.

If you’re hungry then order the Medium or something else on the menu. The Small pizza was disappointing for $12 because it was the size of my iPad with 6 slices. For the price, I expected a larger size pizza that I could have shared with a friend.

One thing good about the pizza was the crust. I like pizzas with crispy crusts (like Pizza Bank in the SW) and cheese that is baked right in. The cheese here was thick and acted like a canopy. As soon as you bite into it, the cheese would fall off the pizza like a topping.

There were plenty of pepperoni and mushrooms which was nice and hearty. Aside from the size, it was a relatively good tasting pizza. Anything that tastes this good should be large enough for you to enjoy there in the restaurant and for you to take home. Too bad I couldn’t do the latter because I ate it up in one sitting.

Next time, if you’re in or near the Foothills Professional Building just off the Foothills Hospital, drop in for lunch or a light snack. It’s worth another visit and review but I’m going to try their pasta next.

Gus's Cafe & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Italian Cafeteria

Broccolini an Sausage Pasta

Broccolini an Sausage Pasta

To all Via Cibo fans, sorry about the title of my post but I mean it in a good way because I think the owners of it has it right. The pasta is delicious and fast. Who says good food has to take a long time to prepare?

At Via Cibo, join the line at the front door and choose from a menu up high. There are pasta dishes, sandwiches, pizza, salads, drinks and gelato.

I wanted something extra spicy so I ordered the Broccolini and Sausage pasta. There is a milder version but if you want some heat, make sure you ask for ‘extra spice’. You get a choice of penne or linguini so I chose the linguini. The broccolini was chopped up into small pieces, almost unrecognizable small. I forgot for a moment what the green stuff was and thought they were green onions. The sausage was firm and was told it was homemade.

The pizza looked good and authentic. It is like Wolfgang Puck’s pizza, flat and crusty. There’s also a kid’s menu which are smaller versions of the big adult’s menu. The kid sized pizza is a little larger than a DVD and the adult size is more like a frisbee.

Pasta is served with a slice of bread and if you ask, they will accompany your meal with a free glass of iced water. They also serve still and mineral water if you wish.
Via Cibo on Urbanspoon

Why Not? Too Salty.

Linguini alla Vongole

Linguini alla Vongole

I’ve always liked the pasta at Why Not Italian Restaurant in Strathcona. After the waiter served us with a few glasses of water, he brought us a basket of dinner rolls. I had forgotten how tasty dinner rolls can be, especially when they are served warm.

I had ordered my favourite, Linguini alla Vongole or Linguini with Red Clam Sauce. They make the White Clam Sauce as well but I like the tomato version as oppose to the white wine. They’re equally tasty but I have always enjoyed the red marinara sauce here.

When it arrived, I was quite surprised to see how small the dish was. I seem to recall that they used to give you a big heap of linguini. And now, it looks like it’s about half the size of what it used to be. Either my memory is failing me or I have a bigger appetite or both.

Tonight’s red clam sauce was too salty for me to give it a thumbs up. I normally enjoy this dish here but when the sauce is salty, it’s ruined.

I’ll have to look for another Italian restaurant in Calgary. Any suggestions? If so, please leave me a comment.

Happy Hours at Pizzetta

Brushetta

Succulent Tomato Brushetta

One of my favorite pastimes is to check out happy hours at select locations on earth. Today, I found a place where you can order a slice of pizza for just $2. If you look at the curvature of the crust, you will find that the slice is actually a quarter of the whole pizza and whole pizzas go for nothing less than $15 each.

The place is called Pizzetta and it is located on Koloa Road in Old Town Koloa. Where the heck is that, you may ask? It’s on the island of Kauai and Koloa is just down the road from Poipu. If you’ve been to Kauai and stayed on the south shore then you’re familiar with Poipu beach and Poipu bay. They will tell you that it is the sunniest location on Kauai.

Renovations are going on at Pizzetta. The main part of the restaurant is being renovated along with the bar but there’s plenty of tables for happy hour patrons or dinner go-ers.

We ordered one of each, cheese and pepperoni pizza slices for $2. To top it off, we also order Caprese and Bruschetta. Between these two dishes and the pizza, we were full. The bill was outrageously cheap at $13 but we had iced water instead of Italian soda.

Service was only so-so with the waiter being miffed about something. The Caprese was not real buffala but ok, the Brushetta was not warm enough but the pizza was good.

 

 

Rich Italian Food

Seafood PescatoreFriends of ours took us to Villa Firenze for dinner a few weeks back then they headed out to Maui the next day. Lucky dogs! But I’ll be heading to the Big Island very soon too. Parking at the villa is great. They have ample parking in the rear and there is parking after hours in the lot adjacent to the restaurant. Walking into Villa Firenze is like walking into a house. I was told by our friends that it is a typical house in Bridgeland. Converted to a restaurant, it is cozy yet roomy inside. I like how the foyer of the house is the reception and the living spaces converted to dining areas. Stairs leading downstairs from the foyer takes you to the washrooms.

They have coat check but it was cold out so we held on to our coats. Everyone was dressed business casual so I can only guess that a lot of business lunches and dinners are held here. The owner came and greeted us at our table which was situated near the front of the restaurant. Where I sat, I had a commanding look at their wine selection. Instead of a wine cellar, they have all their wine bottles in the restaurant. My guess is that there were ample red wine in the house because these bottles were not chilled.

Our host decided to order the signature appetizer for us to try. The Portabello mushroom, oven baked with lots of garlic, bits of bacon and parmesan cheese(?) was delicious. A meal in itself. Next came our entrees. I chose to go with a simple spaghetti with marinara and it was delicious. My wife chose the Seafood Pescatore pasta. It looked great but I’m sensitive to mussels. I prefer the green mussels from Australia rather than the sea mussels that grow under piers. These were definitely sea mussels as you can still taste the sea in them. The rest of the dishes looked scrumptious. The veal dishes were nicely presented but I’m used to paying a few euros for them in Italy, rather than $20+ here in Calgary.

Overall food quality was excellent. I’ll give them awesome ratings on the Portabello and the pasta sauce. I didn’t pay for dinner but from the way the owner treated us, it must have cost a mint. We’ll be back for good Italian cooking when we’re downtown and feeling a bit rich.

Why Not (this) Italian Ristorante

Why Not Italian

Why Not Italian

To be perfectly honest, I have been going to Why Not Italian Ristorante in the Strathcona Square for a number of years. I’ve seen different waiters come and go, so the service is definitely sporatic at best. The pasta is delicious and the calamari is so-so. The brushetta is nice and so are the dinner rolls (if the waiter decides to give you some). They are thrifty when it comes to feeding you bread so if you’re like me, they will be annoyed with you before the night is out. The veal is good no matter which dish you choose. The salads and soups can be improved but so can the service.

The cook makes delicious pastas such as the Linguini alla Vongole (or clams), both red and white sauce,  Spaghetti Bolognese, Linguini Diavola and Linguini Pescatore as my favourites. Their veal dishes are awesome too such as Vitello alla Pizzaiola and Piccata al Limon.

I would still recommend eating here. The food is delicious, atmosphere is typical Italian and the after dinner drinks are fair. If you don’t like the service, just give a smaller tip but don’t blame the cook – she’s the best!

Why Not Italian on Urbanspoon

Il Centro for Italian

Calamari

Calamari

If you have expensive taste, head on over to Il Centro, near Chinook Centre for Italian food. I read the reviews and I followed the recommendations. Eating out on a Saturday night, we arrived right at 5:00pm and found the place closed. We used our iPhone and called them and they said they were inside and will open in a second or two. That’s fine, we looked like keeners to them but I’m glad we came early because it filled up quickly after just half an hour. They put us in the corner near the way to the washrooms which by the way, were clean and sparkling. I like the Leonardo Da Vinci poster on the wall – reminds that I’m in an Italian restaurant. On the menu, there were some appetizers, pasta, pizza and a list of wines. Under the appetizers, we noticed that Calamari was only available in the weekend so that’s what we started with. Served on top of a leaf of lettuce, the calamari rings were breaded and fried then dunked into a tomato sauce. It was nice and tender but I would have liked a bowl of sauce on the side instead. Some rings didn’t have any tomato sauce on it but there was light seasoning on the batter. On the entree, we decided to share a pizza since all the recommendations seem to rave about it. We were shocked at the prices of pizza but we went ahead with a large because they allow you to choose two flavours and they will make it half and half. The pizza cost a little over $25 which was a little overpriced in my books. We were definitely not in Rome where a large pizza is 4-6 euros which is about 10 bucks.

Spicy Capicollo and Gilchrist

Spicy Capicollo and Gilchrist

We ordered the Capicollo and the Gilchrist. When the pizza came, it almost looked the same. Capicollo usually doesn’t look like pancetta but this one did. I was disappointed that the capicollo was not spicy at all and that it took chili flakes to spice it up. Both sides had plenty of fresh mushrooms but the Capicollo side had diced red peppers. They were generous with the slices of meat on the pizza and the dough was nice and thin with an edging which is almost the way I like it. (I prefer NY style which is thin without an edge.) We ended up packing three slices to take home. You can say we have a big appetite.

To cap off the meal, we decided to cleanse our palette by ordering the Strawberry and Lemon Sorbet. This was delicious. Served in a martini glass, there were four small scoops of sorbet. The lemon balls were delicious, refreshing and a little tart. The strawberry balls were not as good but delicious none the less. The dessert was $6.95 which was a little too much but I think that’s the going price for desserts at high end restaurants.

Il Centro on Urbanspoon