Signature Dish: Penne Alla Campesino ($12.99)
Dinner & drinks for 2: $50
I can’t remember a time when the old post office building on Whyte Avenue didn’t house the Chianti Café. For high school dates or a pack of pals, the spot featured low prices, tasty fare and an unpretentious atmosphere. More than a decade later, with wife and three daughters in tow, I was back for Round 2.
I savoured the smooth, liquid lemon gumdrop flavour of my limoncello on the rocks ($5.49) and admired the restaurant. It was as comfortable and friendly as I remembered it. I was hard pressed to find a dish priced higher than $13 and I was very happy with my gnocchi della nonna ($11.99): the potato pasta itself was a bit soft, but the tangy meat sauce was a delight under a layer of ricotta.
I finished with a slice of Bernard Callebaut chocolate ganache, layered with raspberries on an Oreo crust ($5.99). Despite the rich, luscious dark chocolate and tart berries, the dessert was eclipsed by the combination of that Oreo cookie crust smothered in real whipped cream.
Sure, the prices were still low and the fare was still tasty, but the atmosphere is what did it for me. The people are genuinely warm, the decor is cheerful and Chianti is exactly the way you remember it — or maybe just a bit better.
Kevin Ostapek opened a Scottish pub featuring scotch (almost 100), wine (more than 100) and food. Those who have seen the menu claim an abundance of pies, soups, sandwiches and sharing plates. Don’t miss the haggis tasting on Jan. 18 to kick off the Robbie Burns celebration! 5482 Calgary Trail, 780-761-1761.
Dennis Yurkiwsky of Chocolate Exquisite has a secret. The chocolatier not only crafts an entire shopful of sinful delights, but hosts tasting nights as well! Sample 20 different chocolates from around the world, accompanied by a port and four dessert wines. Visit www.chocolateexquisite.com or call 780-488-7852 for details.