You know that place you pass by in a familiar neighbourhood that pops up one day and you think, “hey, that’s a new place and it looks interesting, I must try it one day”? And then every so often you pass by the same place and think the same thing but keep forgetting to make an actual commitment to try it out? Borgo Trattoria is one such place that kept intriguing Mark and I, but we couldn’t seem to get the timing right to try it.
Well, one drizzly Saturday evening, we were pondering what to have for dinner and it instantly popped into my head – “let’s head on down to 17th Avenue and try Borgo!” My, what a splendid idea. I always get the best ideas when I don’t want to cook anything.
Living near 17th Avenue is a true advantage, especially for Saturday evening outings, mostly because the odds of finding parking are about the same as winning the lotto jackpot. So off we went into the misty evening, excited that we were about to try out “that place we keep passing on 17th Avenue that looks cool”.
Instantly, we were hit with the boisterous clatter of a full restaurant. The friendly hostess informed us that we could sit at the bar instead of waiting for a table. Why not? We rarely eat barside, mostly because I prefer the privacy and comfort of a table. But that night, I didn’t want to wait and it looked pretty fun at the bar.
We were seated near what appeared to be the appetizer station. Two cooks were busy preparing various small bite appetizers so we got to watch the orders get prepared as they came in.
I’d heard rave reviews about their Arancino (crispy risotto ball, cheese fonduta) from my co-worker, so we got 4 of those. I wasn’t entirely sure about the cheese fonduta (I have a weird thing with cheese), but thought I’d try it out anyway. Fried to crispy goodness and incredibly creamy on the inside, my palate was overwhelmed with the cheese sauce. I tried to eat the ones that had the least cheese sauce on them, but they turned out to be too cheesy for me. Mark didn’t seem to mind though – he happily ate the remaining 3. I think if I get them next time, I’ll ask for the cheese sauce on the side so that I can control the amount of sauce.
We also got 2 of the Crostino (toasted ciabatta, pecan-maple pesto, smoked chicken & apple). Yum! I wished we’d gotten more of these. I wasn’t sure what to make of the pecan-maple pesto, but it was the perfect nutty complement to the smoked chicken and sliced apple on top. A nicely balanced one-bite appetizer that hit all the right notes.
Being a carb lover in general, I couldn’t say no when Mark suggested the Grilled Focaccia. I never say no to bread. ERMAHGERD this might’ve been the best focaccia I’ve ever had. Two gigantic blocks of grilled focaccia – you can’t go wrong! The texture was just right – soft yet chewy. It came with olive oil and balsamic for dipping. Mmmmmmm… carb heaven…
We picked a main to share – Pan roasted chicken breast (honey-sage glaze, crispy speck, spicy lemon broccoletti). Excuse the blurry photo. Apparently it looked so tasty that I couldn’t even focus my camera properly. I was pretty much mesmerised by the crispy speck on top. It gave a nice crispy textural pop to the tender chicken. I must admit, the broccoletti was my favourite part. I normally do not give veggies much love, but they did this broccoletti right.
We couldn’t resist getting a pasta course as well, so we went with the Gnocchi (ricotta, basil, passata tomatoes & mozzarella). Oh my pasta heavens. The gnocchi were incredibly light and soft, unlike some dense and rubbery gnocchi I’ve had in the past. The cheese in this dish did not faze me at all. In fact, the little chunks of chewy mozzarella throughout worked really well against the softness of the gnocchi. It all came together in a rich, savoury tomato sauce. Definitely one of my faves of the night.
By the end of these courses, we were pretty stuffed. But I couldn’t resist trying a scoop of their hazelnut apple gelato. In fact, I was so excited about it that I didn’t even take a photo.
Sitting at the bar proved to be a fun time. We got to see the action around us unfolding and on our side of the bar there were less diners, so it felt like we had the privacy and comfort of a table. Throughout the night, we had excellent and attentive service.
I’ve been back to Borgo a couple of times for lunch already because it’s so close to where I work. I plan on going back for more in the near future.
818 16 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2S 0B7
Phone: (403) 245-2202