818 16th Ave SW
Another post from this past summer. Checked out Borgo Trattoria. Located on the trendy 17th avenue, Borgo Trattoria specializes in Italian cuisine in full size plates and the ever popular tapas style. The front face feature beige block and black window mullions with "Borgo" in giant cursive across the middle. The semi open patio is packed with hungry patrons. A very lively atmosphere.
Unlike other tapa places where dishes are generally offered in a serving of unknown size (typically small, but how small?!?!), Borgo Trattoria offers many of their items in single piece servings. Two meatballs. Too many? How about one? You got it. This offers diners the opportunity to try a variety of different dishes (especially the small eaters, I'm an eating machine so it wasn't a big deal). Dishes are brought out when they are hot and ready. Except the cold dishes. Those are brought out cold.
To start, we ordered two pieces of focaccia bread. Some of you may know of my unhealthy obsession with foamy focaccia bread. It makes Gollum's ring obsession look like a weekend hobby. So where does Borgo's bread rank among Calgary's restaurants? In my humble opinion, it is up there with the best. Though not as squishy as Charcut or Bonterra Trattoria, Borgo's focaccia bread is tasty in it's own way. Toasted to a golden crispy state, the bread is topped with caramelized onions. Forget the balsamic vinegar and virgin olive oil, the bread is heavenly on it's own. Ordered initially to soak up all the sauces, it was definitely tough to not gobble it all up before the other tasty dishes arrived.
The classic bruschetta was the first to arrive. There aren't many Italian restaurants that don't serve bruschettas. It's like going to a Chinese restaurant and not being able to order some sort of rice dish. Not gonna happen. Cherry tomatoes were halved and served on a toasted piece of bread with watercress garnished on top. Flavours were light and refreshing.
The next to arrive was the feature frittata. This little wedge of omelet is stuffed with cheese (I forget which kind) and potatoes. The pie is then topped with watercress. Borgo really likes the watercress.
More stuff began arriving. Next up, the eggplant frites. Deep fried to order, the outside batter was light and crispy while the inside was moist and juicy. It is served with a fennel yogurt for your dipping pleasure. Really good!
The prawn were the next to arrive. Served with a sprig of rosemary, the prawns were seared to a golden brown. Perfection!
The next to arrive was the arancino of risotto. These little balls of rice are stuffed with cheese and served in a tomato paste.
Also served in a tomato paste is the calamari. Not deep fried, it was a refreshing way of presenting the ingredient. The meat was surprisingly not very chewy but rather tender. Strange.
The most disappointing dish of the day was the beef skewer. Beef skewers, in my mind, entails large chunks of meat (in this case, beef) speared together with a medieval claymore and served over a raging fire with sweet cow juice dripping off the oh-so-very-tender medium rare bovine flesh. This was not the case at Borgo. I can live without the raging fire but the toothpick size (exaggeration) brochette featured a small film of beef wrapped along its length and served on a plate that was 10 sizes too big. It was a little disappointing. Taste wise, the beef skewers were pretty good. I think the trick is to eat it with your eyes closed. Some of you are probably wondering 'But David, that's dangerous! What if I poke my eye out with the skewer?!' Fear not loyal reader! This item is no longer served at Borgo (Not surprised). The world is at peace once again!
The last savory dish to arrive was the sautéed mushrooms in a wine sauce. The dish was very fragrant and tasted equally delicious. The sauce was rich and creamy. It came with two slices of bread which was definitely not enough to scoop up all the sauce. I dipped the last remnant of my focaccia bread to soak up the remaining creamy goodness.
We finished off our tapa dishes with an americano and the dessert combo. Served on a silver platter (why aren't more things handed to me like this?), we have the quartet of tasty dessert.
In the top centre, we have the classic cannelloni. One of the ends is dipped in chocolate and coated with pistachio. It is finished off by dusting it with icing sugar. Working in a clockwise direction we have the rum baba. This yeast cake is soaked with liquor and served with whipped cream and strawberries. The cake is soft, moist and most definitely melted in my mouth. Rum oozed out of the cake as it is compressed. Heavenly. In the bottom left, we have the almond tart with gelato. The tart had very rich almond flavours. The gelato was smooth and creamy. Delish! The final dessert was the mix berry semifreddo. This frozen "half cold" dessert is made with whipped egg whites and whipping cream folded into it. As a result, when frozen, it does not get as hard as ice cream. Though described last, we ate the semifreddo first so it didn't melt into a sloppy mess.
Atmosphere: 8 out of 10. Beautifully decorated interior. The restaurant was busy the whole time we were there. Very lively.
Food: 8 out of 10. The food was very good. Some better than others.
Presentation: 7 out of 10. Above average presentation overall.
Price: 7 out of 10. Many items are offered per piece but adds up quite quickly. So keep that in mind when you order. The menu is fairly straight forward. But if in doubt, inquire with your server. Which brings us to the next point.
Service: 9 out of 10. Incredible service. Our server was very knowledgeable of all the dishes. Very friendly and attentive to our needs. Our waters were consistently topped up that my mom complained that I never drank any water. I swear I drank lots!
Overall: 8 out of 10. Good food, warm inviting atmosphere and amazing service. Borgo Trattoria. Check it out! Bring your friends.