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Vagabondo to close; anywhere else for homestyle Italian in Calgary?

I recently learned that Vagabondo restaurant on Edmonton Trail will be closing for good as of December 1, 2007. It seems the owners are retiring, and have chosen to close the place. This is a bit sad as it is a favourite of mine. If you've never been, and you enjoy unpretentious Italian food that tastes like it came from Mama's kitchen, give it a try before it closes forever. They re-open on September 4, following the annual summer holiday closure.

I was wondering if anyone can suggest an alternative. I'm looking for a Mom-and-Pop type of place, with good prices and simple, tasty Italian food.

We've tried Buon Giorno, and found it to be average. La Brezza was OK, but the service and the space were not. La Dolce Vita is good, but it seems like it is always a fixed price menu there these days, and the prices are too high.

We may just start trying all of the Italian places on Edmonton Trail and Centre Street. Maybe the owners can even suggest an alternative for us.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Namskar Restaurant
2404 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary, AB T2E, CA

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  1. Mamma's Restaurant (308 - 16 Avenue NW) might fit the bill. I find that it is very homey food (but I haven't been there for awhile). It's also in the right neighborhood.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Zydeco_Mama

      Oh yeah, I forgot about that place. We used to go there years and years ago. Maybe it's time to revisit.


      1. re: feuerzeug

        I was thinking that it's time for a revisit - I'd forgotten about until reading your post!

    2. Lina's Italian Market! Better than Mama's (well, my mama).

      3 Replies
      1. re: John Manzo

        John, I definitely love Lina's, but can you suggest anywhere that's more like a traditional restaurant? I'm thinking wine, candles, pasta platter for 2...

        Damn, I'm going to miss that Vagabond pasta platter. 15 bucks per person, a choice of 3 pastas, and enough leftovers for 2 days!

        1. re: feuerzeug

          Although I have never eaten there I gather Sandro might fit the bill.

          1. re: feuerzeug

            Have you tried Antolino's? On 17th where The Arden once was.

        2. vagobondo has always been a family favorite over the years, but the last time we were there in July, the food was absolutely terrible. The salad greens were soggy and wilted, the meats overdone, the fish quite "fishy", and the pastas were underseasoned. WE were all surprised and disappointed. The only good thing was the bruschetta. I would also like to find an alternative!

          1. Da Guido on Centre Street used to be very good, but I haven't been there in a couple of years.

            1. Just thought of another homey style Italian restaurant. Jenny's at 8-727 33 Street NE. It's hidden in a strip mall and is not exactly in the area you're looking at, but it's not that far. The pastas are all home made.

              1. Where is everyone going to eat Italian these days? Has anyone eaten at Sandro, Antolini's, Gnocchi's or Jenny's? I noticed a guy posted something about Da Paolo on the board; has anyone tried it?

                We are going to eat a Vagabondo a few more times before it closes, but it's nice to have a list of new places to try in the new year.

                What's that place in Victoria park by the Stampede grounds? It's across from that new Arriva condo development.

                Rea's Italian Cucina
                431 41 Ave NE, Calgary, AB T2E, CA

                Antolini's Restaurant
                1112 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2R, CA

                Jenny's Restaurant & Lounge
                727 33 St NE, Calgary, AB T2A, CA

                Da Paolo Ristorante
                121 17th Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 1H3, CA

                Gnocchi's Ristorante
                1238 8 Street SW, Calgary, AB T2R 1A9, CA

                3 Replies
                1. re: feuerzeug

                  Il Gallo Nero? I've heard good things about it.

                  1. re: John Manzo

                    No, that's on 17th Ave next to the Casino. I think the place across from Arriva is (was) Bocconcini's but I understand it's closed now.

                  2. re: feuerzeug

                    La Vita e Bella is on the corner of 12th Avenue and 3rd Street SE in the historic Dafoe building - across from that new Arriva condo development.


                  3. Well I would say try Abruzzo on 8th Street and 4th Ave Sw, the yellow mediterannean style building on the corner, I have always found thier food to be very home like cooking, very tasty and good service.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: buddah cabaret

                      I'll add it to my list. I really am looking for home-style cooking. The opposite of what I'm looking for would be a place like Osteria De Medici.

                    2. Now Jenny's is closed, too!

                      1. There's a new Italian place where it used to be, it's called Capriccio. I aassumed it was Italian for capricious :-) but I looked it up and I guess it's a musical term.

                        I tried it last week and thought it was pretty good and very reasonably priced. The antipasto platter at $12 was HUGE, enough for 2 (bigger than the one at da Paolo for the same price and much bigger than the one at Gallo Nero which at $20 is barely enough for 1). It was nicely presented on a long rectagular plate with marinated roasted red pepper, artichoke hearts, pickled veg, olives, Italian deli meats and little squares of various cheeses. We had that and calamari for apps which was a big mistake since I had no room for my dinner and had to take most of it home with me. There are about 6 pastas in the $16-18 range and about the same number of mains in the $22-28 range. The pastas are very large, my takeaway fed both of us the next day. The lamb at $27 for 4 chops was not a huge portion but perfectly cooked, very nicely presented with a drizzle of reduction, vegetables and potato wedges. Wines are high-end but very reasonably priced, it starts at $35 and there were amarones at $70 that are usually $100 elsewhere.

                        I'm not sure if our tastes mesh, eg. I really like Buon Giorno - but I thought it was really good and would recommend it especially if you live in the area.

                        1. What about Villa Firenze? I haven't been in about a year but have never had a bad meal. 6 st & 1st avenue NE