Visit #2 – Involtini Ristorante – Calgary, AB

As I was writing my post on the Best Things I Ate in Calgary in 2011 late last year, I couldn’t stop thinking about the prawn pasta dish that I had tried at Involtini Ristorante last summer. Though I don’t live near Involtini, I honesty thought this dish was actually worth driving across town for. Hence, I decided to satisfy my craving and go back there for dinner again recently.

Like before, we started off with a basket of bread and a dish of Rosemary infused olive oil and Fig Balsamic vinegar. The bread was fresh and the fig balsamic vinegar was as tasty as I remembered it to be.

Since we loved the dish so much during our previous visit, we ordered an entrée size of the Murray’s Firecracker Prawns ($25 for entrée size; $17 for appetizer size) on this visit to share between my friend and myself. Upon first bite, I was kind of disappointed. This dish did not taste anything like the one that we had before. There was nothing wrong with the dish per se as the angel hair pasta was al dente, but the flavours were really muted. I didn’t taste the bright flavours of the sun-dried tomatoes sautéed in the chili garlic lemon white wine butter sauce, which I had loved so much on my previous visit. I also didn’t taste any heat from the chili in the sauce as I did previously. On this visit, this dish completely lacked pizzazz. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was different as all the ingredients seem to be there but the flavours just didn’t pop. Based on the taste of the dish on this visit, I wouldn’t classify it as something that is worth driving across town for. And I certainly don’t think it would have been worthy to be on the list of the Best Things that I Ate last year.  I was really curious to figure out what was cause of the big difference in taste. Hence, I decided to ask our server whether they had changed recipes or even changed chefs. It was then that I had learned that on this visit the main chef/owner was actually on his day off and a different chef was cooking in the kitchen. That would probably explain why the dish tasted so different on this visit. Knowing this now, I’ll make sure to go on a day when the chef/owner is around for my next visit.

For our second dish, we shared the Chicken Mushroom Alfredo Pizza ($15 for 10 inch pizza). The pizza was topped with smoked chicken, portabella mushrooms, a cream sauce, and bocconcini. For a neighbourhood restaurant, this pizza tasted good but I wouldn’t categorize it as something that is worth driving across town for. It certainly wasn’t in the same league as pizzerias such as Without Papers.

For dessert, we shared the Feature Gelato ($6). That evening they were featuring housemade Tiramisu Gelato. This Tiramisu Gelato was out of this world. The gelato tasted exactly like the dessert itself and I loved the mocha ripple throughout. My friend and I loved it so much that we got a second order of the gelato. If I hadn’t been so full from the pasta and pizza, I would have wanted to order a third. Heck, if I had known the gelato would be so good, I would have skipped the pasta and pizza and gone straight for the gelato instead. This gelato was definitely the highlight of our meal.

Though I was disappointed with the Murray’s Firecracker Prawn pasta on this visit, the Tiramisu Gelato totally made up for it. I hope that on my next visit the Murray’s Firecracker Prawns will be as good as the one I had on my first visit. And I also hope the Tiramisu Gelato will be available again.

Involtini Ristorante
2515 90 Ave SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 281-2482

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