Restaurant Review: Bonterra Trattoria

>> Thursday, May 9, 2013

With the weather warming up in the city, patio season is seemingly in full swing. Driving down 17th Ave you can see how busy it is and how hard it is to get a table outside. It’s great to enjoy the hustle and bustle of that area, but when I just want to relax and really put my feet up, I swing by Bonterra. They have an amazing hidden patio just off of 10th Ave and a nice menu selection to accompany the ambiance.

Atmosphere: A patio reminiscent of an Italian courtyard in the countryside of Tuscany with the interior boasting an open dining area with heightened ceilings and brick fa├žades.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $30+

Food & Wine: It’s hard not to pick at the breadsticks sitting at the table waiting for our food to arrive, but they’re just so good. I can easily go through a whole jar full. Luckily the waiter stopped by and dropped off some amazingly fluffy focaccia, taking my attention away from nibbling on the breadsticks…for a while anyhow. The focaccia was remarkably soft and went amazingly very well with the herb infused olive oil. I probably could have just eaten focaccia and olive oil all evening with a few bites of breadsticks to cleanse my palate (yes, I enjoy my carbs).

For our antipasti dish we had the grilled calamari served over a bed of fresh spinach and sun dried tomatoes topped with olives, roasted almonds and golden raisins, drizzled with olive oil. It was a nicely well rounded dish, perfectly spiced with a hint of sweetness that lingered at the end. A very refreshing way to start the meal and a nice twist on calamari, where many places tend to deep fry them, the way it was served here it retained its flavour while remaining tender.

We had the Gnocchi di Ceci as the pasta dish, served with spicy lamb merguez sausage, chickpeas, sun dried tomatoes, fennel and topped with plenty of fresh ricotta. The gnocchi was soft and doughy with the accompaniments providing a punch of flavour. I did find the merguez a bit strong after a couple bites so I’d recommend sharing the dish if you enjoy milder flavours.

As a secondi, we ordered the Tonno, which is fresh tombo tuna seared on the outside to a medium rare on the inside and served over top cous cous, cipollini onions, pistachios, sundried tomatoes and paired with a bit of quince jam. The tuna itself was cooked perfectly, with a charred smokiness due to the grilling process. The taste reminded me of flame broiled sushi I’ve had before. The cous cous was cooked al dente, which slightly less done then what I’m used to so it was a bit of an adjustment for me, seeing as it is an Italian restaurant I wasn’t surprised. I suggest getting a bit of the sundried tomatoes and cous cous with the quince for added sweetness and pistachio for crunch in each bite to really balance out the flavours.

To end our meal we shared the Cheesecake with lemon coulis and blackberry compote. The cheesecake itself is more traditional, which is a bit richer in texture, without being overly heavy. I enjoy creamier cheesecakes, so this one definitely fit the bill. It’s smooth and velvety with a nice amount of sweetness. Nothing pairs better with cheesecake then a good fruit compote, a simple yet decadent way to end the meal.

The server recommended I try the Costanza wine by Castello Romitorio that evening to pair with all the seafood we were having. It’s a vermentino chardonnay blend with lots of fresh fruit aromas. Not overly sweet, with a dry finish. It paired very nicely with the calamari dish and the smokiness of the tuna.

My Pick: Calamari

Overall: Always an enjoyable meal at Bonterra, the experience is heightened when you relax in their patio. Off the beaten path but an oasis in itself, its one of the few hidden escapes within Calgary. Although word is starting to get out, so be sure to get there early because you can’t reserve seats in the patio!

Bonterra Trattoria
1016 8 Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 262-8480

Bonterra Trattoria on Urbanspoon


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