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Jan 18, 2008 04:10 PM

Pulcinella review, Calgary

So we finally tried Pulcinella in Kensington. The place was buzzing but welcoming with lovely smells hitting our noses before we even opened the door from the cold street outside. Greeted warmly, complete with a smile, and had no problem getting seated quickly and even had our coats taken for us. Nice modern decor with white walls contrasting with large backlit classic black and white prints, which set the tone for the place. Another Italian addition to the restaurant is the white Vespa scooter parked up next to the centerpiece of the restaurant - a huge wood burning pizza oven, which I could watch all night. It's just a casual, relaxed and nice environment without being overly-stuffy or pretentious. Just right for what it is with people in jeans and t-shirts with kids and also more dressed up people making a night of it.

The menu was pretty simple and I felt it was priced about right. Nice selection of appetizers, which we skipped this time around to save room for the pizzas (over-eating isn't good for you!). My opinion is that the test of a great pizza place is to try their basic Margharita first and judge them on that, so that's what I tried. My other half went for a (only slightly) more adventurous ham and mushroom creation.

Waited what you'd expect to wait on a busy night while we enjoyed conversation and the lively ambiance...about 20 mins. Pizzas arrived looking great and tasted even better than they looked. The secret is the really sweet tomato sauce, which sets the whole thing off. Nice thin and soft, floury base with the obligatory pizza oven blackening and light crisping around the edges, which adds to the taste in a good way. This was a basic but delicious pizza. Can't speak for my other half's (she said it was great too) or the quality of other toppings, but mine was everything I hoped it would be.

Bill came to around 40 bucks for pizzas, wine and beer, which I was really happy to pay given the quality, taste and the overall experience here. I honestly can't say a bad word about the place and will definitely be back soon.

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  1. Well said. Thanks for the review greenboy :)

    1. I was just there tonight, found the pizza quite good as always, but they often seem to be out of something I want when I go. My favourite pizza is the speck e rucola (smoked prosciutto with arugula and cherry tomatoes), and the past two times I haven't been able to get it because they were out of a topping, the first time speck and the second arugula. I was able to satisfy my craving for that pizza tonight thankfully but they were out of Moretti beer and then couldn't find the other Italian beer.

      My dinner companion had the Margharita and our pizzas were quite tasty. We started with my compulsory Arancini, which is a ball of saffron risotto wrapped around buffalo mozzarella and deep fried. It's delicious. Ended the meal with a canolli and tiramisu, the canolli was very good, but the tiramisu missed the mark somehow.
      My double espresso was okay, but I would really prefer if they used a locally roasted bean rather than Illy. I understand that Illy is the Italian standard, but they cannot be roasted fresh, and with the good roasters in town I believe a better cup could be had using something fresher.

      The one odd thing was that our waiter took forever to bring us the bill. We were seated around 7, finished our meal by 9:15 at the latest (I didn't check my watch), and received the bill around 10:30. I like not being rushed, but the waiter didn't even approach us after he took our plates until my companion excused herself to use the washroom. It was nice, but kind of bizarre.

      Total bill for 2 of us was $80, but that included pizzas, apps, beer,desserts and coffee.

      1. We brought two friends from out of town there for dinner a few weeks ago - it was the last night of their honeymoon so we were trying to think of somewhere with that mix of informal but stylish atmosphere and it was absolutely perfect. We shared the mixed antipasto and the fried mushrooms to start. The mushrooms were beautiful, almost like a tempura batter with a very light gorgonzola sauce - i usually can't stand gorgonzola but this was yummy. The antipasta platter was HUGE, we didn't manage to finish it all. It was advertised as including Italian breads, which didn't turn up but we had so much food in front of us we didn't notice at the time. It was really busy that night so the bread may just have been forgotten. There were a couple of slices of prosciutto but it was 90% vegetables (peppers, eggplant, tomatoes,olives etc) so carnivores mightn't be too happy but it was all delicious.

        We were waiting quite a long time for our pizzas, maybe 40 minutes or so, but it wasn't a problem as the appetizers were so large and we weren't in a rush. I think the same thing happened the last time I was there too. We shared two pizzas, a prosciutto e rucola and a diavola. Both were delicious, the light base is fantastic, it gives me flashbacks to holidays in Italy whenever I taste it! Our only complaint was that the spicy salami on the diavola was not remotely hot, so that was a bit disappointing.

        Our server was very friendly and helpful, despite being quite busy there was never any problem getting water for the table or anything else we needed and she did apologize for the delay with our pizzas. She did seem a little shocked initially at the amount of booze four Irish people can put away over dinner but recovered well :-)

        1. Scheduled our work belated Xmas part for here, 17 of us went down excited to try it.
          This was the worst pizza I have ever had, and I could tell from the look on the faces of my co-workers that they were thinking the same thing. Super thin pizza that was soggy and wet in the middle, much like a thin-crust pizza that has half a cup of water drizzed over it.
          I would never go back here again, and regret dragging my staff along for the event.
          The appetizers were great though, service was good, and the venue is really nice and modern, but not nice enough to make me forget about the terrible pizza.

          1. I've been here about 8 times during this summer, for a month straight I went every Monday night. I had read some reviews from blogs I follow and here and didn't get a burnt crust till my last visit. I do like a slight burn but this time it was just a bit too much. I have noticed over my visits there are about 4 ppl who work the wood oven so that will lead to less consistency.
            Still this place remains a fav of mine when I want some pizza Napolean style right here in Calgary. I've tried many of the appies and wasn't too thrilled but do get the arancini every 2nd visit even though I wish it cost more and came with a small amount of meat(On top or mixed in) and more sauce.

            3 Replies
            1. re: hclass

              Had a get together this afternoon...sat in the bar area by the window, nice spot..
              ordered a negroni...whereby I got a ??? don't know what that is? Is it not a quintessential Italian aperitif. anyway - bottle of Chianti did the trick - man I wanted a negroni!!

              Pizza wasn't anything special..soggy and meh..will go back for the atmosphere..pleasant enough, however, just for a bottle of wine. Move on for the food.

              1. re: caseygirl

                I'll admit that I haven't been there in over a year but I came away with the exact same feeling.
                The pizza I had there was awful. Totally soggy and bland....I felt that I spent a lot of dough for what I actually received. I think it makes a huge difference who the on duty pizza chef is.

                On the other hand I just went to UNA last night for my birthday and everything there was fantastic, including the atmosphere and service. Walnut and romaine salad with grana padano, meatballs in tomato sauce, mushroom pizza with truffle oil and a pie with italian sausage and leeks.....all delicious. For me....a much better place to spend my pizza money

                1. re: johnjohnson78

                  And I was at Pulcinella 2 weeks ago and the pizza was delicious as usual. I had the prosciutto crudo and it was flavourful and not soggy. For reference this was on a Thursday evening, around 6:00.
                  You can't really compare it to Una because it's so different. At Pulcinella the dough is soft and stretchy. Una is more of a flatbread. I like both.

                  1147 Kensington Crescent NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1X7, CA