Cibo – Edmonton (Oliver Village)

Cibo is quietly located in Oliver Village just north of downtown Edmonton near the Macewan University City Centre Campus. It offers excellent Italian food made from fresh local and in house ingredients. The result is an excellent food experience that satisfies the palate. DSC_0768

Inside, is a cozy, candle lit environment, which can be intimate, yet casual enough for gathering with friends. Tables are wood finish with a central modern looking bar and an open concept kitchen. There is also a large table tucked away in a semi-detached room giving you more privacy for a larger party. The servers were friendly and knowledgeable.

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Polpette – veal and pork meatballs, tomato sugo, dried apricots, peperoncini, pine nuts, Pecorino

We started off with the veal and pork meatballs. The appetizer presented simply yet elegantly. There were three very large meatballs topped with microgreens and pecorino romano. To start, the sauce was a robust and spicy tomato, which packed a punch but was not overwhelming. The meatballs themselves were quite delicious. They were soft, moist, and flavourful. The incorporation of the dried apricot gave it a nice fruity sweetness that complemented the veal and pork flavours very well. Together with the tomato sauce, these meatballs were excellent. The serving size was quite generous as well. Overall, it was a very good start.

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Brussels Sprout – sautéed with garlic, shallots, fresh lemon, and pancetta

With our mains, we ordered a side of Brussels sprouts. The sprouts were sauteed with pancetta to add a buttery and peppery flavour. Although the Brussels sprouts were a little undercooked, they were quite enjoyable and was generously portioned.

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Pappardelle – braised lamb, sugo pomodoro, mint, Pecorino Romano

For our mains, we ordered the pappardelle and the gnocchi. The hand made pasta was cooked al dente and gave a perfect bouncy texture with each bite. This is how pasta should be done. It was coated lightly with a garlic tomato sauce. On the first initial bite, you taste the soft tender lamb and the warm tomato sauce. Immediately after that you notice a refreshing flavour of mint which fills your palate and nostrils, but not in an overwhelming sense. It adds freshness to an otherwise warm dish, which gives this dish such uniqueness. I have to say, it was an excellent pasta dish and I would highly recommend this dish to anyone.

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Gnocchi – Truffled cream sauce

My better half ordered the Gnocchi, which was excellent as well. The gnocchi was soft and tender and “melted” in your mouth. The filling was quite light and fluffy. The cream sauce is not at all heavy. The initial flavours are light and subtle hints of the romano cheeses and the gnocchi filling followed by the rich and earthy truffle. The soft gnocchi and the flavours of the romano and truffle make this a very comforting dish. If you are a fan of gnocchi, this dish is a must try.

Cibo is an excellent asset to Edmonton’s growing restaurant scene. Their ever changing menu provides fresh local and house made ingredients that cater perfectly to the season. Their dishes are simple, yet unique and creative, and focus on providing complementary flavours. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a new contemporary Italian restaurant and excellent pasta.

Service: 4/5
Food: 8.9/10
Atmosphere: Contemporary, Bistro, Cozy, Romantic
Price: $30-40

~Thomas

Cibo Bistro on Urbanspoon

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Eataly – Flatiron District

So my colleague during the month of June is a traditional Italian living in Montreal. Obviously we chatted during work and he had highly advised me to go to Eataly, because it’s simply amazing. And that it was, and more! I absolutely love this market and it was really only at this point that I was truly jealous of the people of New York City, wishing that I also lived in (or close enough to get to Eataly) in the City.

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To start, the market is incredible. Fresh pasta by the pound, amazing seafood, cooking utensils and endless ingredients for you to peruse through. I definitely felt that I could spend a whole day in there, reading about every type of pasta I could bring home. Sadly, I couldn’t do so, but maybe next time.

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We decided to situate ourselves in the pasta section after what felt like forever of going back and forth between deciding where to eat. It was a 25 minute wait, so I did end up buying some black truffle as souvenirs since they were in small enough packaging that I could fit in my suitcase.

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Pizza oven next door

We had a pasta each. First was the tagliatelle al Ragu di Manzo, which was a short rib ragu with parmesan cheese. Absolutely incredible pasta, the tagliatelle had the bounce and almost slight crunch to it that we love in noodles/pasta. The flavour of the ragu was just right; very slightly spicy, lots of meat flavour in a non-overpowering tomato flavour. Definitely the better of the two.2014-06-25 15.06.37

The other pasta we ordered was the Lamb Gnocchi. The gnocchi was a little stickier and more cheesy than I’d like it. The gnocchi had the heaviness it should have, and paired with the lamb, I thought it was a little too much. As a result, I had to swap with tfung. I’m a little disappointed by this dish for sure, as I do love gnocchi, but it is often not how I like it done. Perhaps I just don’t like traditional gnocchi. There isn’t too much extra flavour from the sauce of the pasta. It just added the moistness that the dish needed.2014-06-25 15.06.44

Overall, I definitely think that everyone should go to Eataly and experience the vast and sheer volume of products they offer. It really give syou perspective about how awful commercial supermarkets are in terms of giving you depth of a culture. We only tried the fresh pasta, and had mixed feelings about the gnocchi. But next time, I’d definitely try the pizza and the seafood. The only con to the market is that it’s not foodcourt style even though your group may want different things. For example, we wanted one dish of pasta and one dish of fish, but because they were in separate “restaurants”, we were unable to do so. They had a restaurant that serves all types of food, but we wanted to experience the excitement of the open kitchen.

Service: 3.5/5
Food: 8.9/10
Atmosphere: market
Price: $20-30/person

~ kehwon

Teatro – Stephen Avenue

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Walking into the restaurant, it looked grand. The ceilings were high with amazing moulding, the pillars were big and there was nicely placed large pieces of art at each of the main walls. The kitchen was open, with copper-coloured steam vents which was even more visually appealing. The bustling sound of people working at the kitchen made us excited to try the food there.

The waiter who was serving us promptly came to greet us and asked us about drinks. Soon after, he had came over and due to the fact that tfung had kindly alerted the restaurant previously that it was our 3rd year anniversary together, champagne was brought over to us! The champagne was quite good, not too sweet and not too dry, the bubbles rose quickly, evenly, and in one very straight column.

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As we looked at the menu, the choice to me was obvious. For appetizer, it was either the calamari or the beet salad for me. We ended up just sharing a calamari appetizer since we were going out for drinks after (and maybe some snacks). The calamari came in this very cute newspaper cone, with some aioli on the side. The batter was done with rice crumbs, which made it extra crunchy. The calamary was fresh and had that seafood crunch as you bit into it. The aioli could have been a little more flavourful, as in they could have added some sort of extra flavour (garlic, truffle) to it. The one thing I have to complain about was that the calamari was way too salty. It felt like my mouth was burning from the salt. Next time, it’d be better if they had brought the salt down a knotch, and perhaps offered some table salt if the patrons so please.

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For our mains, I ordered the seafood lasagna, and tfung ordered the Alberta lamb. My seafood lasagna was quite good. It came searing hot, and there was copious amounts of baked cheese and tomato sauce surrounding the lasagna itself. It was topped off with some microgreens, a large scallop and Prawn on the top. The lasagna pasta was quite soft and was to my taste, a little overdone. But due to the fact that it was smothered in sauce, it wasn’t surprising. The ratio of the cheese to pasta to sauce of the lasagna was quite good and to my liking. There was quite a good amount of seafood in it, but you could tell that some of it definitely was not fresh. At $39 for this lasagna, I really expected fresh, high quality seafood, which I did not get. The taste was very ordinary and there were no surprises.

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Thomas’s Alberta lamb was even worse. We expected larger pieces of lamb, cooked medium rare, but we got tiny cubes of overdone meat. Furthermore, the whole dish was extremely salty, which meant you cannot taste any flavour of the meat, making us think that this lamb may not be of top quality. Again, at $35, I would not expect this. The vegetables were mixed in, which meant that there was no plating. At a restaurant where they emphasize that they are fine-dining, this lack of plating is absolutely unacceptable. I would not pat $10 for this dish.

The evening started off quite well, and ended in disappointment. I felt terrible that for our 3 year anniversary, we didn’t eat amazing food. Oh well, I will not be coming back here ever again. The food doesn’t match up to many of the places we’ve been to and the price is almost triple of what we pay for elsewhere. Although the decor and the service is quite nice, I don’t go to a restaurant solely for that and have the food taste bad. Maybe for a lounge or bar, that would be acceptable (that the drinks are not tasty), but not for a seemingly high quality Italian restaurant.

Service: 4.5/5
Food: 6.5/10
Atmosphere: fine dining, romantic, open kitchen, grand
Price: $50-70

Teatro on Urbanspoon

~ kehwon

Dolcetto – Old Port

I called up a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time and we decided to come to Dolcetto. I had wanted to try this place on several occasions, having passed by it several times.

This restaurant does Italian-style tapas, which was something I hadn’t really tried before. I’m all for spanish tapas but was a little weary about Italian tapas…I do love my pastas!

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As a result of my craving for pasta, we ordered the Homemade Gnocchi with Truffle Cream. I have to say the look of this was not very good. It came in a dish of about 15-20 gnocchi’s , drenched in a thin truffle cream. It was very plain-looking and didn’t appeal too much to me. However, as soon as I bit into it, it was absolutely delicious! The gnocchi was of a soft, chewy, sticky consistency, and the potato mixture inside was surprisingly flavourful. The truffle cream provided that extra bit of flavour, and the fact that it was of a thin, almost soupy consistency made balance with the thick texture of the gnocchi. The spiciness of the pepper just peaked through and I kept wanting more.

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We also ordered the dish of the night, which is the Arancini with portobello mushrooms inside, topped with parmesan cheese and served with a tomato-based thin sauce that had a taste of tabasco sauce. Arancini are Italian-styled rice balls, and these were massive. I didn’t enjoy these very much, mostly because I didn’t like the sauce, but the arancini was too dry to eat by itself. The portabello mushrooms also didn’t add any significant amount of flavour to the dish, which was extremely disappointing.

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One of the main categories of dishes there was pizzas, so we ordered one. We went with the Bianca style pizza with squash, pancetta and mozzarella. Bianca pizzas are those without tomato sauce, just the pizza crust and cheese on top. The squash was sliced very thinly and seasoned with herbs. The pancetta is a type of bacon, adding just the right amount of meaty goodness to the pizza. The mozzarella was of a melted, creamier consistency. I thought this was quite well done. The portion size was perfect, and the mix of ingredients was also good. I like that they kept it simple, minimizing the number of ingredients they put onto each pizza, so I’d definitely recommend getting at least one of these!

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Finally, we had the veal cheek braised in red wine, which was coincidentally served with mashed squash. We were a little sad that we had squash in two dishes, but since both dishes were quite good, we enjoyed it. The veal cheek was tender, but was a little difficult to cut as they didn’t give us very good knives, and the piece was quite thick. There was some soft cartilage that was in there, which was a little annoying. Overall, I thought this dish was okay, but perhaps my expectations had been a little high. The flavour and texture is good, but it didn’t wow me.

I do have to say that their service is quite casual. As I walked in, the Hostess had wanted to leave the area even though she saw me coming, but since I had made eye contact with her, she had to stop half way and come back to greet me. I could totally see her thought process, where for a step and a half through her walk, she contemplated not greeting me right away. Furthermore, when I told her we had made reservations, she told me to just sit at “that middle table there”. There were two “middle tables”. She just pointed and then left to do something that I guessed was far more important.

Finally, I didn’t get any menus for at least 10 minutes. A little disappointed at that, but perhaps it’s because they want a more casual atmosphere. But in my opinion you can be casual without being cold and uncaring.

Service: 3/5
Food: 8.3/10
Atmosphere: cozy, casual, cute trinkets for decor
Price: $30-50
Dolcetto & Co. on Urbanspoon

Corso 32 – Downtown Edmonton

It was a great weekend. Karen came to Edmonton to visit me and we do what we both love to do: try new restaurants together. Our reservation at Corso 32 was at Sunday night at 9pm and this was the only reservation available even though I had called in a month in advance. Not that surprising since Corso 32 had been rated as Edmonton’s best restaurant by AvenueEdmonton and of course we were both very excited to try it. As we walked into the Corso 32, the dimly lit restaurant gave us a very relaxing and homely feel. The restaurant itself was very small and the tables for 2 were spaced very close to each other, which felt like we were almost eating with the couple next to us. The hostess greeted us with a friendly welcome and let us know that there will be a bit of a wait. However we ended up waiting an extra 25 minutes. When we were finally seated, the waitress did not even apologize for the long wait. We concluded that because of Corso’s popularity, waiting is almost expected.

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Wild Arugula salad with roasted hazlenut, fennel and parmagianno

Since they did not offer us any bread, Karen and I decided to order quickly because we were getting hungry. We decided to share the Wild Arugula salad and the Arancini. The salad was perfectly dressed. The cheese was not too overpowering, which can often happen in salads, especially with the large amount of cheese in this dish. The roasted hazelnuts added complexity, flavour, and texture to the salad. None of the ingredients were the star, which made for a very well balanced salad. In addition, the Arugula was warm, which matched the temperature of all the other ingredients in the salad and gave the salad a homely feel that matched the restaurant. This shows Corso 32’s attention to detail and their goal in making this salad feel harmonious. The Arugula Salad was absolutely delicious.

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Arancini – Porcinni Mushrooms with Risotto and Fontina

On the first bite of the Arancini, it had a very rich flavour of cheese and mushroom with the added thickness of the risotto all covered with a crunchy deep fried outer layer. It was very tasty, but by the second one, we felt like we were getting full very quickly and were almost overwhelmed by the flavour of the Arancini.

For our mains, Karen ordered the Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli and I ordered the Full Hen. The Ravioli was accompanied by a flavourful buttery brown sage sauce. The pasta itself was thin and soft, which is something that Karen really enjoyed. Once you start tasting the pumpkin inside, it begins to stand out. The pumpkin was not too sweet and was blended very consistently, but not to the extent that it became creamy. This pasta was absolutely amazing and we both agreed that it was the best pumpkin ravioli we have ever had.

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Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli with Pistacchios
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Game Hen “Alla Mattone” – Green Beans, Marcona Almond & Lemon Gremolata

The hen was very generously portioned. The outside was crispy and well seasoned. The lemon zest in the seasoning gave the hen a very refreshing taste. When you bite into it, you get the crispy texture from the skin as well as the juicy and tender meat inside. Overall, I thought the hen was very good, but I must admit that it was a little bit too salty and over-seasoned because seasoning overpowered the flavour of the hen. Feeling full, Karen and I decide to skip dessert. We were very satisfied with our meal at Corso 32. All the ingredients were fresh and the dishes were innovative. The decor was very homely and their dishes matched that style. The attention to detail is very evident in their dishes and everything tasted great. Corso 32 is a gem in Edmonton and I will definitely be coming back for another try.

Service: 4/5
Food: 8.8/10
Atmosphere: Cozy, Hipster
Price: $30-40

Corso 32 on Urbanspoon

~Thomas