Calgary may be in a bit of a down turn, but it’s still got a great food scene.
One of the newer restaurants that we have been looking forward to trying, in particular, was Carino Riserva. Having been to their original location in Bridgeland, we had pretty high expectations for what the sister restaurant would bring to the table.
If you haven’t heard of them yet, well, shame on you. With hearty Japanese-Italian cuisine, an excellent wine list, and affordable prices, it’s a little bit of a hidden gem.
Just be sure to book a reservation since the spaces are small.
We headed through the doors off 4th street and took a table near the window, making sure to glance at the chef’s tasting menu written in chalk along the wall.
Although the five course menu (for $84) looked pretty delicious, we had our eye on a few other menu items and decided to order a la carte.
Beginning, with a spicy Bolognese spaghetti, piled high with a heap of steaming wagyu beef. In addition to the load of exceptionally tender and flavourful meat, each swirl of noodles was coated in a spicy tomato sauce and topped with fresh parmesan.
Making each spoonful eye-rollingly good. This dish was made to comfort you during this cold, cold winter weather.
We scooped and slurped until there was nothing left.
Then, decided to keep on ordering.
Next, at our server’s recommendation, we snatched up the last appetizer special of the night. Brie croquettes.
Topped with a sweet and sour sauce and paired with specks of fig jam, we cracked open the croquettes and watched as the warm brie flowed out, managing to scoop it up and ladle it onto a toasted cracker.
It was no wonder why this dish was now sold out by 8pm.
Of course, these were just our appetizers, so we took a little reprieve before moving onwards. I’ll note that the spaghetti could have easily been an entrée, but tonight we were not only famished, but feeling a little splurge-worthy.
Cole sipped on his wine as we watched passers-by out the window. The small space breeds quiet whispers between tables and every guest is personally greeted by the chefs as they walk in.
After our appetites returned, out came our main courses.
A Japanese-style steak frites – with beef that was cooked to absolute perfection. Tender and juicy, my slab of sirloin was topped with a sweet and spicy soy-wasabi sauce and served with a side of aioli and extra soya.
Paired thoughtfully with a yuzu vinaigrette salad and crispy-crunchy frites.
As well as a creamy mushroom risotto, melded with herb oil, truffle vinaigrette, green onion, and soppressata. Topped, naturally, with a generous portion of silky-smooth pan seared scallops.
Each dish was exceptionally flavourful, mixing a combination of sweet, sour, and spicy ingredients. Paired with being cooked to perfection, it was easy to see that Carino Riserva lived up to our highest expectations.
No night is over, however, without dessert.
Quickly, out came a dream of a chocolate dish. Two types of chocolate, I devoured the dark chocolate parfait and the chocolate cake overflowing with fresh fruit. Both drizzled with a sour raspberry sauce.
And, an angel-food-esque cake, topped with a cloud of whipped cream.
If you’re looking for exceptional comfort food, Carino is definitely the spot to go.
Take your date or grab a close group of friends (no separate bills for a table of 4 or more!) and book yourselves a reservation.
Easily one of my new favourites in town.