Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
A couple weeks ago, my friend Diana and I went out for lunch at Cucina, the latest addition to The Teatro Group.
Teatro, which means “theatre” in Italian, is a nod to its location across from the Epcor Centre, but also a reference to its high-end Italian dishes and luxurious dining room. On the other hand, Cucina, or “kitchen”, is a much more casual experience – the food is still Italian-inspired (and delicious!), but more rustic, with an emphasis on sandwiches, pastas, salads and (local) meat. The space itself has a bit of a “country kitchen” vibe to it as well – Floor manager Tilly gave Diana and I a “mini-tour” of the restaurant, highlighting the many pieces reclaimed from the British countryside. There are also a lot of “personal” touches to the restaurant – outside the washrooms, there is a wall covered with reproductions of notes directly from Executive Chef John Michael MacNeil’s notebook; portraits of Chef MacNeil grace the front of the menus and the restaurant’s website.
Diana knows many chefs around the city, so we were treated to a few appetizers before we ordered.
When the Basket of Baked Goods ($7) arrived, Diana immediately reached for the pain au chocolat, which was buttery and flaky, with just the right amount of dark chocolate; not too sweet. I got to take home the other goodies (Raspberry Almond Muffin and Blueberry Lemon Cake) which were also delicious.
We also got to try the Chicken Liver Parfait, a dish that’s been generating lots of buzz.
Once we cracked open the layer of fat, we found a rich parfait made with chicken livers from Sunworks Farm. The sweet-tart sour cherry-balsamic cipollini jam was the perfect foil to the savoury, rich parfait; and when we realized when we didn’t have that many ciabatta crostinis, we really had to lay the parfait on thick. This was a meal in itself!
For our “main” course, both Diana and I went for the porchetta; specifically the Porchetta Benedict and Rosemary Roasted Porchetta Sandwich, respectively.
Diana’s dish was very decadent – I had a tiny bite and the Hollandaise was thick and creamy and the porchetta was fried to a nice crisp.
By contrast, the porchetta on my sandwich was moist and juicy, with just a hint of rosemary flavour. The slaw, made with sour apple, celery and grainy Brassica mustard was very subtle – I almost wished I had more, or at least a little more acidity in the slaw to cut the richness of the porchetta…
I guess that’s what the pickles are for.
All in all, it was a delicious meal and Diana and I left stuffed! I can’t wait to go back to try all their other dishes… and a little more of that chicken liver parfait!
515 8 Ave SW
Calgary AB T2P 1G1
Open Mon-Fri 7 AM-close; Sat 10 AM-close; Closed Sundays. No reservations.