Restaurant Review: Cardinale

>> Thursday, March 15, 2018

Dinner reservations has taken on a whole new meaning in the last year or two. All of a sudden instead of just 6 people the number has doubled…mainly due to everybody having kids. I guess we’re at that age and it’s amazing how many restaurants in Calgary are accommodating to kids! I understand that often times when people dine out they would rather leave the kids at home, but we enjoy brining ours because for the most part, they’re well behaved and we typically try not to bring them to a 5 star establishment. Let’s be honest those are best enjoyed between my husband and I. As I was saying, there are so many great restaurants out there are will accommodate kids and one of them is Cardinale, which was perfect because I’ve been wanting to try it out since they changed over from La Vita e Bella.

Atmosphere: Cozy warm setting where the dining area is split in to several intimate rooms perfect if you have a larger group or just want to be hidden away.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+

Food & Cocktails: We are a larger group that evening which gave us an opportunity to share a bunch of appetizers to start. I’m really glad that we decided on the shared plates because all the appetizers were incredible! The Polpette, meatballs made with a combination of brisket and shortrib were succulent served with a chunky Sunday gravy and topped with parmesan. They were a good size and there were about 5 to the plate making them great for sharing. The Bocconcini, which are deep fried fresh mozzarella balls with a gremolata crust served with an arrabiata (spicy tomato sauce) and yogurt sauce. I enjoyed the crust on the bocconcini, it’s like grown up cheese sticks.

Another fried favorite that night was the Suppli aka fried risotto balls with veal Bolognese, mozzarella, marinara sauce. They were light and didn’t feel greasy or heavy even though they were deep fried, overall a nice take on the arancini. Our favorite appetizer of the night was definitely the Gamberi. The salt baked prawns with jalapeno, pickled fennel, basil and garlic aioli were divine. Even though they were salt baked, that actually brought out the sweetness of the shrimp even more and I really enjoyed the accompaniment of the garlic aioli. It was so good, we ordered another one.

We were craving pasta so I ordered the Gnocchi which came in with a combination of spicy fennel chicken sausage, Tuscan kale, cannellini beans and topped with parmesan. The gnocchi was pillowy soft and the perfect vessel for all the chunky toppings. The hubby, who loves anything seafood, gravitated towards the Linguine which comes with prawns, scallops, mussels, squid with anchovies and Calabrian chile. All of the seafood was treated extremely well and the pasta was nicely al dente. Needless to say he was pleased with his pasta of choice.

For dessert I was looking for something a bit lighter and the Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with blueberry compote was exactly what I needed. The use of the greek yogurt instead of traditional cream lifted what could have been a heavier dessert. Plus, the added tang from the yogurt was a nice palette cleanser. One of the kids loved it so much after having a taste that he wanted one for himself!

We had the opportunity to sample a few different cocktails that night throughout our meal. The Organ Grinder made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, amaro nonino, dates, aromatic bitters and orange peel was sort of a play on old fashioned. It wasn’t too sweet and would definitely be perfect for someone who loves their bourbon cocktails. The complete opposite was the Wait Until Spring Bandini. A combination of red wine, Campari, lemon, carpano vermouth and orange peel reminded me of a more concentrated sangria, which would be perfect for a wine lover looking to try something different.

My Pick(s): Gamberi, Suppli

Overall: We had a lovely evening and really enjoyed the fact that they put us in a separate room (since their dining area is segregated), which worked well for the kiddos. It allowed them to get out of their seat for a bit and walk around after dinner within the room. One thing to note is they don’t have high chairs at Cardinale but if your kids are good with a booth then it’s perfect. Couple that with some delicious Italian fare and I feel like the new Cardinale is a great choice for anybody who does or doesn’t have kids. You’re guaranteed to have an amazing Italian meal!

401 12 Ave SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 264-6046


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