Buon appetito! Try the best Italian restaurants in Calgary

Calgary’s Italian restaurants contribute heavily to its reputation as a rising culinary star among North American cities. The following establishments reinvent and reengineer Old Country standards in new and oh-so-delicious ways.

500 Cucina

1
1003 9 Avenue SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0S6

Immediately adjacent to the East Village in Inglewood, 500 Cucina in the sexy Atlantic Avenue Art Block serves lovingly crafted Italian pizza, pasta and mains. Former food truckers Genarro Silvestri and Rocco Bartolotti have settled into a cheerful and airy permanent space complete with an open kitchen, its own pretty little coffee bar and a live-music area handsomely decorated with a selection of bottled wines.

La Dolce Vita Ristorante

2
916 1 Ave NE, Calgary, AB T2E 0C5

In Calgary’s very own Little Italy (Bridgeland), LDV is the cool and casual upstairs counterpart to La Dolce Vita, the fine Italian dining spot on the building’s main-floor. This chic room serves contemporary Italian pizza fired in LDV’s own wood oven. Start with salad or an appetizer such as mussels or an antipasto platter, and share a Crazy Calabrese or the tuna-topped Pizza al Tonno. The place also serves a concise selection of pastas and meat entrees.

Cibo Urbano Cucina

3
1012 17 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2T 0A5

Situated in a refurbished, two-level redbrick building on 17th Avenue Southwest, Cibo features a variety of seating – relax bar-side or overlooking the avenue. Its open pizza kitchen keeps this hopping Italian spot fragrant. Ruggedly refined pies include prosciutto with fig jam, radicchio arugula, caramelized onion and grana padano cheese. Also recommended are the house-made ricotta gnocchi or ravioli, the veal Milanese and absolutely indulge in Cibo’s small-dish selection.

Centini Restaurant & Lounge

4
160 8 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0K6

This upscale Italian go-to spot has a stylish yet lightly casual air that befits its location in the city’s arts district. Settle into a multi-course meal in one of its dining rooms or in the long, central lounge, both of which overlook Stephen Avenue Walk. Take the chef’s lead and ask about the restaurant’s daily specials.

Bocce

5
110-2207 4 St SW, Calgary, AB T2S 1X1

A spinoff from the very popular Mercato Italian restaurants, Bocce is a fun and casual Fourth Street Southwest eatery serving its own Italian menu. This includes hand-made pizza dressed in the best traditional ways. Try the spiaggia with Lennox Island clams and roasted garlic or the isola topped with, among other things, pancetta, roasted pineapple, mozzarella and smoked scamorza.

Teatro

6
200 8 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0K7

Housed in the big, beautiful Dominion Bank building on Stephen Avenue Walk beside Olympic Plaza, this top Italian restaurant has more going for it than mere good looks. Its fine contemporary Italian cuisine, prepared using premium Alberta ingredients, keeps the dining awards and commendations rolling in. And the wine cellar is stellar.

Mercato Mission

7
2224 4 St SW, Calgary, AB T2S 1W9

Whether you visit the original Mercato in Mission or its sister establishment Mercato West on 85th Street Southwest, expect expertly crafted rustic Italian food in a sociable setting. It’s a great spot for sipping wine and sharing food. The restaurants’ open kitchens are part of the fun as you watch succulent steak (try the bistecca alla fiorentina) and whole fish grilled to perfection and house-made pastas prepared with flair.

Bonterra Restaurant Ltd

8
1016 8 St SW, Calgary, AB T2R 1K2

This cozy spot serves seriously artful Italian dishes that include a generous list of shareable antipasti plates, pastas, risottos and mains. In warm weather, take to the terrace. It’s one of the city’s best little outdoor patios.

Posto Pizzeria and Bar

9
1014 8th Street SW, Calgary, AB T2R 1K2

The smaller and more casual sister restaurant to Bonterra Trattoria, Posto is cheerful, charming and one of the best contemporary Italian eateries in the city. Settle in at a table or at the open-kitchen bar, and start with small plates such as salami with beans and artichokes and sunflower seed “risotto.” Watch the making and baking of your thin-crust pizza (try the gorgonzola with radicchio, figs and potato!) or go for a creative main dish such as perogies with fig crème fraiche and bacon jam.

Scopa Neighbourhood Italian

10
2220 Centre St NE, Calgary, AB T2E 2T5

Located adjacent to Lina’s Italian Market on Centre Street Northeast, Scopa offers a contemporary take on the Italian neighbourhood restaurant. Its comfortably familiar but amped-up food prepared with local ingredients is a hit with families and foodies alike. Dishes include pastas such as spaghetti carbonara with boar bacon and four-cheese cannelloni, thin-crust pizzas from margherita to pancetta, and mains such as slow-roasted pork ribs, chicken saltimbocca and several steaks.

The quintessential Mexican meal, tacos are also a relatively scarce commodity in Calgary. However, we’ve done some digging and unearthed the select few restaurants that make truly marvelous versions of these hand-held snacks.
The city’s summer season features a delicious dance card of culinary festivals and events. Many, such as Stampede-time pancake breakfasts, are easy to access the day of, but the various tasting and tippling shindigs listed here can fill up quickly, so purchasing tickets sooner than later for these foodie festivities is recommended. Image credit: iStock.com/kasto80.
The city’s pathway system is one of the longest in North America. Given its lengthy stretches, the occasional rest and snack stop, though few and far between, are a welcome sight when walking, biking and inline skating. Here are a few restaurants, cafés and snack shacks located on or near our scenic cycling system. Image credit: iStock.com/mihailomilovanovic.
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