Allora Everyday Italian has opened in the former Redwater Rustic Grille in Aspen Landing.
Food doesn’t always need to be complicated. Sometimes fresh pasta, a simple sauce with a little bit of cured meat and some freshly grated cheese is enough to make a perfect meal.That’s the philosophy behind the new Allora Everyday Italian, at least. The restaurant is the newest from Calgary’s Vintage Group, the same company that owns and operates places like Bookers BBQ Grill and Crab Shack, the Vintage Chophouse and Lethbridge’s Water Tower Grill. The group recently closed its Redwater Rustic Grille restaurants, transforming the Aspen Woods location into Allora. The room itself won’t look unfamiliar to Redwater patrons — you still have to walk downstairs to find the roomy 170-seat restaurant complete with a sprawling patio. It’s been given a bit of a modernized Italian makeover — no red checkered tablecloths — with the name of the restaurant emblazoned on the mirror behind the bar and lighter, more casual furniture.
Allora Everyday Italian has a fresh feel with more casual furniture.
This is actually a return to Italian fare for Vintage. The group originally opened its Stadium and Macleod Trail Redwaters as Luciano’s restaurants, so “everyday Italian” is hardly out of the Vintage wheelhouse. Like the name suggests, Allora offers what one would expect from a neighbourhood Italian restaurant, and Vintage’s VP of Culinary, Justin Labossiere (best known as the former executive chef at NOtaBLE and culinary director at the Concorde Group) and the restaurant’s executive chef Thipphakune Xaykasem (who also comes from the Concorde Group) put a real focus on their ingredients.“My background is that I’ve always done everything I can by hand, be it bacon or all my cured meats,” Labossiere says. “Pretty much 90 per cent of our menu is either house-made, locally sourced, or it’s imported directly from Italy.”While neither chef is Italian, they both have a deep love for the cuisine, which shows in Allora’s approachable and family-friendly menu. The restaurant offers a number of typical Italian appetizers like warm burrata cheese with roasted tomatoes ($15), meatballs with basil and tomato sauce ($9), and a platter from Calgary’s VDG Salumi, complemented with local Sylvan Star Grizzly Gouda ($15).
Allora’s menus includes a selection of pizzas.
The menu also features larger format entrees and a selection of pizzas, but the stars of the show are Allora’s pastas. Made as simply as possible so the ingredients can shine, Labossiere and Xaykasem favour classics like a spaghetti carbonara with guanciale, pecorino and black pepper ($12/$18), a broken sausage conchiglie with house-made fennel sausage, San Marzano tomato sauce and pecorino Romano cheese ($12/$18) and a traditional lasagna with beef bolognese and béchamel sauce ($19). Labossiere installed an imported pasta extruder in a glassed-in pasta station in the middle of the restaurant so fresh pasta is always available in a variety of shapes.Italian food isn’t typically very friendly towards gluten-free diners, but Allora has an advantage in that Labossiere used to run his own gluten-free pasta company and really knows his way around alternative flours. Twice a week, the pasta extruder is fully cleaned and fitted with dedicated plates to make gluten-free pasta with no danger of cross-contamination.
Off The Menu – Allora Everyday Italian – 326 Aspen Glen Landing SW –
While Italian cuisine is most often associated with wine, Allora also has a surprisingly robust cocktail list, developed by Justin Darnes, who has also lent his skills to other properties within the Vintage Group. Italy is, after all, the birthplace of the negroni and home to spirits like Aperol and Limoncello (Darnes makes his own version of the latter in-house) and Darnes has used his trademark creativity to mix up spins on the standards.Allora is open five days a week for lunch and dinner and is located at 326 Aspen Glen Landing S.W. in the Aspen Landing Shopping Centre. For reservations and more information, visit allorarestaurant.com or call 403-686-6731.As of this weekend, Calgary is now home to an Urban Fare, the first location of the upscale West Coast-based grocery store outside of B.C. Located at 906 16th Ave. S.W., the almost 27,000-square-foot store will boast a wide array of gourmet grocery items, all housed in a carefully designed shopping environment. Shoppers will be able to take advantage of a seafood counter, old-fashioned butcher shop, bake shop and enormous selection of cheese.Gourmet food is fun, but for Beltline-dwellers who prefer grab ‘n’ go to from-scratch cooking, the store will also have a prominent restaurant element, with poke bowls, sushi, pizza, a hot buffet and a salad bar, with both takeout and dine-in options. Those dining in can also enjoy a glass of wine or craft beer.The 2019 Calgary International Beer Festival is coming up quickly. On May 3 and 4, beer lovers can sample from more than 700 different beers and 200 breweries, take in various beer-related seminars and eat some food. If you haven’t been able to check out all of the new local breweries, this is a good way to basically catch many of them in one place. For tickets and more information, visit albertabeerfestivals.comElizabeth Chorney-Booth can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @elizaboothy or Instagram at @elizabooth