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Saturday 10 December 2011

Piccolino Bistro Edmonton, AB - Hearty homemade Italian with a generous helping of garlic cream sauce nom!

Tiramisu! But that's at the end of the meal...
Rating Food 8.5/10, Service 9/10
For an impromptu gathering, we warmed up with some hearty fare at Picollino's, a family run restaurant highly recommended (and frequented) by the Italian community. The air is redolent with garlic and cheese as you step into the dimly lit dark wood accented restaurant. It was pretty dim, loud and I was distracted by the yummy smells in the air. With some teasing from our friendly waiter and some tongue tripping as we attempted to coax an intelligible recitation of menu items, we were on our way to a great meal!

A good selection of house wines and reserves are available, and we eventually went with a red house Gallo which was smooth and fairly sweet wine with a taste of berries and a light acidic finish. Our meat correspondent went with a light Italian beer (nothing on tap), which he described as having a similar taste profile to Samuel Adams, though not quite as bodied as the Samuel Adams, but having a similar strong hit of bitters.

Picollino's bread basket
Picollino's bakes their bread fresh daily, and tonight, our basket is piled high with some crusty french bread cut into sections and served with a very sweet mellow balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dipping. The bread was slightly dry - the loaf was sliced up prior and not as needed. However, it was still tender and moist inside and we noshed on it while the wine selections were decided upon.

Mussels with white wine and garlic
Also available with a tomato based sauce, we're glad we went with the white wine version. The large platter of mussels is cooked to a silky savoury perfection and lavished generously with white wine, garlic and red pepper flakes, and topped with some garlic butter infused bread to sop up the delicious broth. Simple, fresh and delicious. We made them disappear so fast, those mussels didn't stand a chance. Nom!

Cream of mushroom soup
As it was cooooold outside with the wind having an uncanny ability to find any nook or cranny in your jacket, Dal warmed up with a big bowl of the soup special. Simply served ungarnished in a large bowl, this unassuming and seemingly bland looking soup was in disguise!  The soup was savoury, rich, thick and had generous amounts of cream, mushrooms and truffle oil throughout.  He totally didn't share lol!

Apologies for not getting down the Italian menu names... gives me an excuse to go back soon! heehee!  We noticed the owner, Lino circulating and visiting with regular customers and our humourous waiter checked back several times over the course of the meal to check on our food and if we wanted more vino and beverages.
Penne de Mare
The pasta was just a bit on the softer side of al dente, and tossed in a light bodied velvety homemade rose sauce with soft notes of garlic, sweet tomatoes and cream.  There was plenty of medium sized crisp tender shrimp and succulent mid sized scallops dotting the pasta dish landscape.  Kimchee's penne is dressed up with generous spoonfuls of grated Parmesan and freshly ground pepper (optional as the waiter brings that around).. her's is pictured because the flash washed out my pasta pic.

Mushroom Cannolli
This cannolli stuffed full of tender flavorful ground veal and a bit of cheese was bathing in the most ridiculously rich and indulgent homemade garlic cream sauce (Thank you Mamma!!!) studded with lots of browned sauteed mushrooms. I would be perfectly happy with just eating (or swimming mmmm!)that amazing sauce.  I can see why many of their other pasta renditions have this sauce incorporated in... its a very very rich and heavy velvety sauce, but oh sooo good! Nomnomnom!

Penne with sausage and tomato sauce
Yes, there was a much fancier Italian name and I really should have wrote it down. Anyhoos, in this dish, large slices of pan seared mildly spicy chorizo sausage is tossed with penne pasta and a light homemade tomato sauce. With the large portions they serve here, most of us packed home about half our pasta for lunch tomorrow, while Dal was the only one who manned up and polished off his entire bowl of tomatoey-sausage goodness.

Chicken in shrimp garlic cream sauce
Seasoned chicken breast is cooked to a moist perfection and smothered in a generous pool of garlic cream sauce laced with lots of little sweet baby shrimp. The same super rich and creamy garlic cream sauce used in the cannoli with the shrimp giving it a touch of seafoody flavor. (How can you go wrong with that fabulous sauce?) Served with Lishy's choice of light and velvety tomato sauce laced rotini pasta, it was a nice contrast of flavors...and made everyone at the table jealous she had both sauces on her plate.

Passion fruit cheesecake
A rich conclusion to our meal, this cheesecake was fluffy with very light passion fruit flavor on a graham cracker crust. Served with a swirl of chocolate sauce and little peaks of sweetened whipped cream, some of us preferred it with the chocolate sauce, while others thought the chocolate overwhelmed the delicate passion fruit flavor.

This massive mountain of ladyfingers soaked in espresso layered with smooth and silky mascapone whipped cream goo and chocolate sauce was a bite of wonderfulness. Kimchee proclaimed it as best in the city with its stronger notes of coffee and less sugary than its competitors, while I still personally prefer Sicilian Pasta Kitchen's version as it has a higher ratio of that marvelous rich and fluffy marscapone cream goo. Nevertheless, it was a delicious tiramisu we all happily dived into!

Overall, a great place to experience some authentic and down to earth Italian fare in this loud and bustling bistro. Though the plating and presentation could use some work, the wonderful flavors, sense of family and tradition gives Picollino's a special spot in both my heart and tummy. Mamma, you make an amaaazing garlic cream sauce!  Full of good cheer and warmth from both the great food, company and service, we stepped out into the cold with a chorus of goodbyes and blown a kiss from Lino. Questo cibo e molto buono!!

Piccolino Bistro
9112 142 Street Northwest, Edmonton, AB
Phone (780) 443-2110
Piccolino Bistro on Urbanspoon


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