Thursday, 11 April 2013

Nello’s Restaurant St Albert, AB – Huge pasta portions, fab sauces and friendly staff

For a birthday dinner, we braved a snowstorm and headed out to the original Nello’s out in St Albert – we’ll have to give the new southside one a whirl soon as I’ve been hearing good things about it! Despite the inclement weather, we were glad to have made reservations for our group, as there were at least two other table celebrating birthdays and the place was packed! Service was friendly and our waitress seemd to anticipate our needs prior to us asking for them :)  On to the food!
Italian meals are noteworthy of usually taking the entire evening, so we all started off with a round of drinks and beer. I had a Tropical breeze… pineapple vodka (or was that rum?) with mango and fruit juices. Refreshing, but I was hopping the food would wow us... too lazy to take pics of everyone else's cocktails and drinks

We were started off with warm crusty sliced loaves of bread, served with butter whipped with roughly shopped fresh herbs – our waitress thoughtfully brought more of the herbed butter when she noticed it running low – especially at my end of the table lol!

the APPYS
Just a word of warning – the portion sizes here are huge huge huge.. and should be shared or you’ll not only be bringing home lunch.. if you order a few appetizers, you’ll be bringing lunch and dinner home afterwards lol! First to come out was the Salsiccia in Cognac – Italian sausage flambéed in cognac, served with a tangy kidney bean chick pea salad and roasted veges and potatoes. It turns out our table didn’t order this dish, but they comped it to us and we enjoyed the mildy spicy and moderately lean sausage with the soft sweet roasted vegetables and tater like roasted potatos. The vegetables were drizzled with their signature Gigi sauce – a velvety mix of their tomato and cream sauce.

On the other side of the table, fellow foodies shared the Nello’s Bruschetta – diced tomato, garlic, onion, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar with toasted bread. It's available in a regular, spicy or in my friend's case - with Bocconcini cheese… yum!

The Prawns Alla Nello’s was a bit surprising. The eight large prawns pan-seared in butter and garlic were tasty. I could have sworn the menu said risotto (and I loooove risotto!!), but a very spicy hot sauce laced cup of rice was plated in the center in a pool of spicy cream sauce redolent in generous amounts of white wine and butter. Though tasty with large crisp savory prawns and the cream sauce cutting through some of the heat, I was reaching for a glass of water and the roasted broccoli from another appetizer to cool down my mouth after a few bites... phoooo.. spicy!!!

After a short wait, our Lamb chops appetizer came out looking fabulous. A portion of baby rack of lamb is cut up, flambed in brandy or cognac (don’t remember) and served with the same kidney bean and chick pea salad, roasted veges and potatoes the Salsiccia in Cognac was plated with. While the sides were tasty, it would have been nice to vary them up.

the ENTREES
After plates were cleared, new utensils supplied and a chat-digestion break, our entrees came out! My boyfriend’s Veal Pamigiana –veal cutlet, lightly crispy breaded and baked with a layer of molten Mozzarella and parmigiano cheese, served with tortelinni in a rich velvety garlic and white wine sauce that wasn’t too thin nor heavy and a splash of a sweet house made tomato sauce. Nom!

Dal was the only one able to finish his entrée in one sitting - Chicken Arrabiatta – Penne noodles sautéed with a spicy tomato sauce, grilled chicken and parmigiano cheese. yumyum!

Annikins made a sizable dent into her Fettuccini Di Mare – Shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, squid, octopus and cuttlefish with your choice of tomato, cream or tomato-cream sauce... she went with the tomato cream sauce… or maybe it was the Gigi sauce :p Only suggestion would be to place seafood on top of the sauce as it tends to get hidden under a large large mountain of pasta.

The Penne Saporito was well enjoyed by another fellow foodie: Penne noodles sautéed with broccoli, seasoned strips of chicken breast, tomato cream sauce and parmigiano cheese.

And the rest of the gals – me included! went with the Lobster Tagliatelle – large al dente flat broad pasta sautéed with a few jumbo tiger prawns, a handful of baby scallops and a small handful of diced lobster meat swimming in a tomato-cream sauce. As with the other seafood pasta, the seafood should have been placed on top of the sauce to show case it… as though I hunted for the lobster, I didn’t find my first bite of lobster until I had it for lunch .. and found some more when I finished the pasta for dinner the next day lol!
Lobster Tagliatelle in tomato cream sauce
Lobster Tagliatelle in Gigi sauce
Kimchee’s hubby went with the Lamb Chops entree – a divided rack of lamb, marinated, then gently sautéed in garlic and olive oil. Just a larger version of the baby lamb chops appetizer, with a side of tortellini and a splash of tomato and garlic white wine cream sauce. The same roasted vegetables were used as the appetizers – while the variety of the roasted veges were nice: broccoli, sweet bell peppers, onions and potatos, a different take on the veges would have been refreshing.

the DESSERT
With plenty of takeout containers holding usually ¾ of everyone’s gigantic portion meals to take home on the table, we were too full to taste their gelato and crème brulee.... but I had to make room for tiramisu. Our waitress kindly came out with a complimentary slice of tiramisu for the birthday gal and we all shared a spoonful or two of the deliciously executed tiramisu with a strong hit of expresso and gentle hint of liquors. We nearly had to be rolled out the door afterwards :)

the VERDICT
Overall, a great place for pasta with possibly the biggest portion sizes in the city I’ve seen. Showcasing the meat/seafood portions by plating them on top of the pasta to show case them better – we eat with our eyes and the huge huge huge portion sizes does make any large prawn look like baby shrimp in comparison. Looking forward to trying out their southside location soon… but first, a nap because of the food coma!

Address 4A-512 Saint Albert Road, St Albert, AB T8N6A7
Phone (780) 460-8505
Hours Lunch: Wed–Fri 11:30am-2pm, Dinner: Mon–Thur 5pm-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm
Nellos Restaurant on Urbanspoon
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