The Man and I decided we needed to roam out of our comfort zone in the close-to-downtown sector of Calgary. We ventured not exactly out of town, but down Macleod Trail, which is getting sort of out of town for us northwest dwellers.
We went Italian at Toscana Italian Grill, a place we nearly missed, as it’s somewhat hidden behind a bit of a hill in Heritage Plaza just south of Heritage Drive. Barrelling down Macleod, and peering to the east, we could just catch the lighted “Toscana Italian Grill” sign on top of the building. Ahh, a quick left hook off Macleod and we were there.
If you live in this part of the city, you probably already know this place. Somebody sure does, because on a Saturday eve, it was cheerfully non-stop busy. And from what we could see, Toscana has lots of regulars, everybody from large family groups to couples, like us. It was fun and lively and we liked it immediately. The Man said, “If this was near us, we’d be regulars, too.” He also said, regarding the many children who were there, “You know you’re in a good Italian restaurant when the children are well-behaved.” Amen to that.
All the food that whizzed by our table looked awfully tasty, so we had some trouble deciding what to order. The menu is classic Italian: antipasti, soups, salads, pizza, pasta, meat and fish. We zeroed in on grilled prosciutto-wrapped asparagus drizzled in olive oil and served with grilled lemons ($11), and tender calamari rings lightly breaded and fried to a perfect crispification, served with a side of zingy marinara sauce ($13). We especially liked that the marinara was separate from the crisp calamari. These dishes represented a very good start to the evening, indeed.
As we ate, The Man, a geologist, admired the rock tabletops. “Big clasts (fragments) of feldspar in the granite,” he said. Technical details aside, the tables were solid, like the food. The pizza looked good, thin-crust style, and as we watched a fellow diner devour one, we noted that the crust is crisp enough to hold up well to being picked up. We’ll be back to try the pizza.
Meanwhile, a bowl of linguine pescatore put a smile on The Man’s face. The light white-wine sauce had a bit of a kick, as did the flavourful juices from lots of clam meat plus a generous garnish of mussels and shrimp ($19). (You can get gluten-free pasta if need be.)
I hadn’t had the classic vitello piccata in forever, so that was my choice ($23). Lemony, capery veal scaloppine were just right, the side of spaghetti was lightly dressed in a fresh-tasting tomato sauce, and it was served with carrots, grilled red pepper and broccoli. Could have been rapini or broccolini instead of a big broccoli tree, but that’s just me.
Then, just because we didn’t have any room left, dessert called to us. The Man didn’t know what profiteroles were, so he wanted them. He’s the adventurous sort. Profiteroles are normally crisp, hollow choux pastry rounds—mini-cream puffs—filled with pastry cream and drizzled with chocolate. These were not so crisp, but The Man liked them soft, dolloped with whipped cream ($6.50)—very nice. A slab of tiramisu served us very well, too ($7).
We really like the ambience of this trattoria-style eatery. Friendly, accommodating people and lots of happy diners. Check it out, even if it isn’t in your neighbourhood.
8330 Macleod Tr. S.E., 403-255-1212, toscanagrill.ca.
Sourced from: http://www.calgaryherald.com/life/Dine+Toscana+Italian+Grill/7922534/story.html
Picture by: Colleen De Neve/Calgary Herald, Swerve