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Dolce Sapori (Calgary)

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I noticed that their advertisement in City Palate finally announces them as "open". I can't find much on them though, no website, etc.

I see that they are at the same address as Pulcinella...I had one good experience there about a year ago while visiting, but since I've moved here its been lacklustre. Is it affiliated? Anyone been? Should I be the first to go? Do we care?

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  1. I haven't been.

    They opened up what used to be the lounge in the upstairs part of the building.

    1. A small mention by John Gilchrist in the Herald (Oct 3)
      "Pulcinella has been tantalizing folks with Neapolitan pizzas for a couple of years. Now the upstairs, red-clad dining room known as Dolce Sapori is open Friday and Saturday evenings for group-style dining with big Italian platters to share."

      1. The Italian Chamber of Commerce forwarded a press release this week about Dolce Sapori opening on Oct. 17 Thurs-Sat nights starting at 6 p.m. Says it's an Italian sharing platter, family-style place. Same chef/owner as Pulcinella. Should be interesting...

        1. Does anyone have an update on Dolce Sapori? I haven't heard a great deal about it except for the blog www.ugonnaeatthat.com. Has anyone been there yet? Thoughts/reviews?

          6 Replies
          1. re: TSAW

            I finally went to Dolce Sapori and knowing that there isn't a lot of information out there, I thought I would share my experience. For those who don't know, it is marketed as a traditional family style Italian service, meaning all plates are communal. That said, this is no tapas bar. Be prepared to eat- a lot.

            We were taken upstairs by the hostess at Pulcinella to a room that I can only describe as 40s gangster meets goth nightclub..but don't be scared, it's a good thing. The walls are black with large lush red booths circling the space. It manages to be intimate while still offering a full view of the room and its diners.

            What I liked most was the service. Our group of three arrived in stages and our host managed to be attentive and professionally casual, which was much appreciated. As each guest arrived he attended to them, while watching our table until our whole party arrived. He filled glasses quietly, not interrupting any conversation and seemed to have an instinctual sense of when he was needed.

            The menu is small and laid out in the usual way-from appies, to entrees. A variety of house made bread with olive oil and balsamic is brought to the table-presumably made in the wood oven downstairs. Each section has a small selection that does a good job of covering different protein and flavour profiles. Upon ordering you are told that the preparation time takes longer the further down the menu you travel, so you are encouraged to take your time making a whole meal selection to submit to the kitchen, which the server will time accordingly.

            Initially one may feel the pricing is high, but as you view the room, you realize that each meal is indeed plated "family style" on platters and can easily feed at least two people. We started with a Bosc Pear and Prosciutto starter that had the perfect salt balance and I am still drooling over the whipped garlic and Gorgonzola dip that accompanied it. I really wanted to lick that dish!

            Next was an orange and fennel salad with walnuts that we had high hopes for. The dressing was an amazing oil and vinegar (again, perfectly salted) with lovely blood oranges. Unfortunately I didn't find the fennel "fennel-y" enough in flavour for me-perhaps just a bulb that wasn't mature.

            Moving on to a gorgeous, gorgeous butternut squash ravioli that I was prepared to fight for! My goodness, the squash was so sweet, lightly whipped with mascarpone and bits of pistachio. The pasta was perfect, not gluey, not heavy. I could have bathed in that dish, I tell you!

            Although I really wanted the veal, my friends are all about chicken, so we had the fig stuffed chicken breast. It was delicious, but sweet with fig and a fig reduction, so the roasted chicken was secondary in the flavours. It had a beautiful crispy skin served on spinach greens that soaked up the sauce making a heavenly, sweet, salty, figgy bite. Yum!

            Where it all kinda died was dessert. Two of us had Cannolli which was passable, but the ricotta was scant to to the whipping cream. I also am not a big fan of candied cherries that studded the ends. The shell was home made, but was a little long for the fryer, so a bit oily. Our other guest had "Tiramisu" which I put in quotations because it was nothing short of a disaster. Shame! The cake was something resembling bread that was not soaked. It was not in a form at all, so the plate came out as a big puddle of goo, almost resembling melted ice cream. It was short on mascarpone, heavy on whipped cream (?) and generally looked messy. To make it worse it was swirled with some kind of fake cherry sauce that was so stringent it put us all off. We did send it back, but ended up being charged full pop for the small bite that came out of it, (not that you'd know, it was such a puddly mess!) so I have to say that restricts my review-not so much for the charge as much as that when you go to Italian resto, you expect them to be able to do basic Italian dessert! Plus, it was a sad way to end an otherwise fantastic meal.

            I also had a latte, and Mr Manzo will have to try the coffee for a full report of flavour-I'm not a coffee gal. But it was served in a Illy cup, had just enough froth and came with a nice biscotti. There is a huge selection of wines that are very well priced and many are available by the glass. The dessert menu also has some basic dessert wines and grappas, for those who partake. We shared a bottle of wine, I had a glass of Prosecco and a bottle of sparkling water was shared. All three of us left stuffed, stuffed, stuffed, but ate everything. Bill came to $170 before tip, including the $35 bottle of wine.

            The room was never over full, the music was nice and as I said the service was great. I would suggest you try it out, but go with an empty stomach. Portion wise I think its probably better value for a group more than two, we probably could have fed another person if we we hadn't eaten until we popped. I would have given four stars but for the poor dessert and I really hope they work on that. Perhaps it would be better to offer less of a selection and do it right, leaving a better diner impression at the end of the meal.

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

            1. re: messier

              Has anyone been there recently? I noticed a great review from John Gilchrist in the spring and then this one as well, but would love to hear about a more recent experience. Their website isn't up yet, which seems a bit odd if they've been open since spring... Looking for a fun night out for a grown-up birthday.

              1. re: a_s_mackay

                Went there about a month ago on a Friday night, walked in thinking it would be busy but it was EMPTY (not a good sign).

                Bruschetta was actually olives and capers on pizza crust obviously made in Pulcinella (everything is made from the kitchen there), far too salty and the Neapolitan crust was too soggy for something like that.

                Famed butternut squash ravioli was undercooked, pasta was far too chewy! Chicken dish was ok.

                Very disappointing and service was spotty (sometimes awkward, sometimes very unattentive even though restaurant was empty, sometimes too friendly), I don't see this place lasting much longer. Decor is also strange with too many red and black tones, very cold feel to it. This place just seems like a plaything for the Pulcinella owners and not a serious restaurant.

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

                1. re: dknight

                  Thanks so much for the updated review. That is not nearly so positive as the ones from a few months ago, we'll give it a miss.

                  1. re: a_s_mackay

                    No problem! I seriously think that restaurants like Dolce Sapori and Haru Sushi Bar in Springbank, and others like them that don't take their food and business responsibly should stop trying.

                    This goes also for the revamped Social Restolounge in Aspen where we live - overpriced and bad value, and a place that has no idea what it wants to be (serious restaurant? lounge? Appies are way too pricey for it to be a decent lounge). Restos need to take pride in their food and service, and work at attracting repeat and regular customers instead of just phoning it in or being stubborn about their ways.

                    1. re: dknight

                      After heading to Dolce Sapori with friends this weekend, I felt I needed to update my first review.

                      The eight of us arrived at 9pm, the set time for our reservation. After waiting 10 minutes we were lead into the dining room. One would expect that the delay was due to them being busy, but upon entering the room seemed manageable-even quiet- for a normal Friday evening service. There were a total of 16 guests not including ourselves. Four of them were on coffee, a group of six was well into dinner and everyone else was waiting.

                      And boy, did we wait. No water, no acknowledgement, no nothing. We watched the one waiter (yes one) try to manage all the tables while the hostess brought up another group of four. After 25 minutes passed we all decided to stare intently at the waiter, who then chirped a quick “be right with you!” and took another 10 minutes to come.

                      At first, we thought we were mistaken. One waiter for this whole room? Where did the hostess disappear to? Could she not help? Was no one downstairs free? As we debated this we waffled between anger and just feeling sorry for this poor guy. But we were there, and we were hungry so we decided to play it out-all of us having had a great experience there before.

                      As time ticked by we examined the menu, made our choices and shared a bottle of water that one of us had in our bag (NO JOKE).By this time, the waiter came up breathless, rushed us through and order (I believe he intended to have us order wine and wait some more) and ran away before we could ask for water. Luckily, the wine came quickly. Sadly, the food did not.

                      All in all, we waited an hour and ten minutes for appetizers. We had decided to order some of what we’d had before, just for comparisons sake. You would think, dear friends, that after this long wait the food would at least be palatable! But no! The pears in the pear, prosciutto and Gorgonzola plate were dry, the dip was lumpy and the bread sticks tasted like leavener. We were enjoying the antipasto platter, until we got to the pickled vegetables, which had a scary tingle to them. We didn’t eat the rest. The shrimp was served in ice cold tomato sauce And the worst part of all was the hard, rubbery ravioli. You remember how much I loved it the first time? The brown butter sauce? The sweet lovely squash? It all came cold, sad and overcooked. So much that I ate the centre and not the edges, hoping to find some remnant of the deliciousness I’d had before. Nope.

                      During this meal we watched the waiter and the busser crash into each other trying desperately to work the tables and the hostess kept sending up more people to add to the chaos. Needless to say, there were other things-other things I will spare you. We were going to ask for water and were considering a coffee to at least end the evening with something warm in our stomachs when the bill came, resplendent with an 18% auto-grat. We took our cue and set to leave.

                      There was a lot of long awaited hype for this restaurant. Endless teasers in City Palate and lots of curiosity. Its just been four months in and I have to say I must retract my recommendation and warn you to stay away. If this was supposed to be a labour of love for the owner-he needs counselling.

          2. Will try and check them out next week