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Jul 5, 2007 02:04 PM

Good Italian around downtown Calgary?

For anyone in the know...

I'm looking for a nice Italian restaurant in downtown Calgary. Price isn't much of a factor (it doesn't have to be swank and doesn't have to be cheap), I'd just like it to be a nice place, maybe even a touch romantic but not super pretentious, located around downtown Calgary.

I'm not sure if I'm the only one, but I find that getting a car and driving somewhere can ruin the continuity and mood of an evening. I live in Sunnyside (Kensington) so I'm close downtown and would like to find a nice Italian place to within a 30-40 minute walk to then take a stroll through Prince's Island Park afterwards. That's the evening. I'd prefer to stay on foot. :)

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks for all your help! :)

*The River Cafe would be perfect, but it has very little for italian food and their dishes seem to meat-heavy for the occasion.

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  1. Both my husband and I really enjoy Centini's (Stephen Ave). It can be a bit pricey, but the antipasto platter is delicious and I regularly order the goat cheese and asparagus cannelloni.

    Nice ambience, knowledgeable staff and fairly quiet.

    3 Replies
    1. re: cmanten

      Well first there is Pulcinella of course in Kensington itself, some people don't find it romantic (a bit bright inside), and you have to be a fan of Neapolitan pizza, but it would save you the walk..
      My favourites in the downtown area are well, to be honest, just outside downtown in Inglewood: Capo of course and Sugo. A bit of a long walk from where you are, and you would have to navigate the east edge of downtown which is not romantic in the classic sense of the word (ok, not in any sense of the word), I suppose you could stick to the river's edge and make sure to get back before it gets too late and too weird down in the "east village". Oh I think this I am trying too hard to get you into Inglewood by foot, I can see that this isn't really going to work. And it would be one heck of a walk to Mercato on 4th Street, which would be seriously stretching the idea of "downtown" anyways.

      Besides Centini which has very tasty pasta there is of course Teatro (you said you weren't particular about price, both of these places are not cheap but you get very good food), I would choose Teatro for ambiance. Bonterra, on the southwest edge of downtown, has a fabulous patio in the back, but you will read mixed reviews here on the food. The last time I was there I had a great meal, but it was specially arranged, so I cannot comment on the regular menu.

      1. re: alley

        I second bonterra - i've only had lovely food and experiences there - the patio is very lovely and would be quite romantic - they won't reserve for the patio, you still need a reservation and then it's first come first serve for patio seats so that means go early or late - i had a 6:15 reservation last time we went and it worked out perfectly there were still a few patio tables left but i don't think i would go much later than that.

      2. re: cmanten

        Second Centini- only good experiences there. Save room for dessert.

      3. Abruzzo Ristorante is really close to where you want to be and it's a good option. Fairly predictable "traditional" Italian fare, maybe stuck in a bit of a time warp.I was just there on Tuesday night for my first time and I found it charming, Service was good and knowledgeable, seafood was very fresh and everything was well prepared and just "how it should be".

        They have been open for years and I would recommend it.

        It is on the corner of 4th ave and 8th street SW - a stones throw from Prince's Island Park, Eau Claire etc.

        1. I really like Prego up on the second floor of Eau Claire, although I have only been there for lunch.

          1. Abruzzo's, Centini and Prego all seem like good choices but are closed on Sundays (this time, it's Sunday) so Teatro and Bonterra seem to be my two best option? Sí?

            Teatro seems very nice, though I wish I could find a wine list on their website. For what I'm looking for, Teatro is in a slightly better location than Bonterra. Bonterra requires a romantic walk under the railway tracks, but maybe that's not such a big deal. Bonterra's -appears- to have the better menu and they offer a wine list on their site. So that's great.

            Decisions decisions decisions... Thanks for all your help so far! It's very appreciated.

            7 Replies
            1. re: ghettoiam

              Teatro and Bonterra are are really in two different classes- Teatro is as-expensive-as-it gets high end; Bonterra has never really impressed me...

              The new Il Gallo Nero and Da Paolo might be options too- both are just west of the Stampede grounds entrance on 17th Ave SE (but not in Forest Lawn- I mean around 17th and Macleod) so you can walk (it;s safe to walk that way during Stampede with lots of other normal people milling around) or take the C-Train to Stampede station and walk a block or so.

              1. re: John Manzo

                What is the verdict on Il Sogno since Chef di G left for Capo.

                The first time I visited, business ended early and I walked from the downtown over to Bridgland and had lunch.

                I chuckled as I made my way over because I had phoned for directions and the person who answered told me where they were and when I replied that in that case I would walk, she paused and then suggested a taxi.

                As other have pointed out the area can be a tad dodgy but mid-day it was fine.

                I did take my time returning via the north side of the river and crossing onto Prince's Island via one of its footbridges for an afternoon glass of wine on River's patio.

                1. re: Bob Mac

                  I've not been to Il Sogno recently but I believe the former chef (can't remember his name) of the Belvedere recently went there. It might be time for a return visit.

                  1. re: Bob Mac

                    Bob- I'd suggest walking over Centre St instead of the 4th St bridge- yes it requires one to sort of double back to get over the Edmonton Trail, but walking through Crescent Heights is MUCH more pleasant than dodging the crackheads and other urban delights around the drop-in centre.

                    1. re: John Manzo

             are absolutely right. That is why I chuckled when thinking of the pause in conversation and suggestion that a taxi might be preferable without saying more.

                  2. re: John Manzo

                    John I would concur with your opinion on Bonterra. As a matter of interest, have you been to Da Paulo since Paulo retired? I always though Paulo's food was quite good but I gather he retired in the last year or so.

                    1. re: Hart50

                      I've never eaten there! I did walk by there so I just thought I'd throw it out there for this thread.