Hicks Weekly Dish: Enzo's — just like momma used to make it BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2013
Enzo’s on 76
11214 76 Avenue
780 800 1976
Food: 4 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns
Service: 4 of 5 Suns
Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tips and taxes: basic, $30; loaded, $60.
It was a cold, cold night in the city‘s southwest.
But our gang was as snug as a bug In a rug, sitting in a corner nook at Enzo’s on 76. Nice and warm, no drafts, looking out a big bubble window at the snow-piled windrows along 76th Avenue … piled up over those famous bike lanes.
What is it about Italian eateries in our town that make them so darn cosy? Piccolino, Pazzo Pazzo, Sorrentino’s in Little Italy, Nello’s, Café Amore, Il Pasticcio, Rigoletto’s, Il Forno and now Enzo’s on 76th.
Cliché becomes truth. Scratch the surface of any good Italian restaurateur, and it’s all about how momma and nonna (grandmother) used to do it, how the pasta never stopped, all visitors were long-lost cousins and a big pot of tomato sauce was always on the go, supplemented by whatever meat or seafood was in the fridge.
The kid, he learned his love of food and cooking from helping mamma. Now he’s grown up, in the hospitality biz and still loves nothing more than a glass of Amarone wine, a conversation and a nice pasta with tomato/meat sauce.
This is chef/owner Vincenzo Antonio Tagliente’s first restaurant, this cute little place just down 76th Avenue from the McKernan/Belgravia LRT station and south of the University of Alberta. Where did Vincenzo ply his trade beforehand? At Rigoletto’s and Piccolino. Of course.
Vincenzo has poured his heart into Enzo’s. It is small, 30 seats, narrow, extensively renovated, all blond and brown tones with solid wood tables and chairs. The two big bubble windows at the front guard the entrance.
The food is all about comfort. Nothing that you haven’t had before — chicken parmigiana, bounteous seafood with crossed crab legs on top, linguine with this and that, mussels, antipasto, bruschetta and so on. But it’s soul-satisfying good.
Fresh-cut capricollo and prosciutto surrounds a flower blossom of rolled provolone cheese on Enzo’s antipasto misto, in turn surrounded by healthy greens and strips of paper-thin carrot. Four of us armed with forks make short work of this antipasto starter, generous though it is.
The east-coast mussels are properly plump, fresh and hot, in a refreshingly savoury, perfectly salted white wine sauce. There’s something magical about this salt, arousing memories of mussels in wooden bowls in Italian coastal villages.
The pescatore — the seafood linguine crowned with crab legs — is all you could ask for, equal parts seafood to pasta in a lively white wine sauce.
Vicenzo’s take on the classic linguine amatriciana is to be admired. It’s a hearty, spicy blend of capicollo sausage, long simmered mushrooms and onions in a very fine tomato sauce.
The only dish I’d quarrel with was the chicken parmigiana. The breaded chicken breast, smothered in mozzarella and, surprise, surprise, tomato sauce, was overly chewy and of indifferent character.
The light-hearted tiramisu for dessert, topped with freshly whipped cream, is one of the best to be had in the city.
Congrats on a great start, Vincenzo. May Enzo’s be a fixture on the city’s comfort dining scene, joining all our established Italian eateries dedicated to mamma and nonna’s memory.
The Weekly Dish is taking a winter break, to resume in late January.
A slew of new restaurants will be coming up for review — The Parlour Italian Kitchen, North 53, the Craft Beer Market on Rice-Howard Way, The Hart in Riverbend. As Willie White has sold St. Albert’s River House to chef Steve Brochu and Serge Jost is overseeing the Hotel Mac’s Harvest Room, those restaurants deserve a re-visit. Willie is now executive chef at the former Mayfield Inn, being corporately re-branded as the DoubleTree Hilton West.
Don’t forget The Art of Conversation’s Christmas gathering, 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Dec. 19th at the Hotel Mac.
Have a fine Christmas season. Buono appetito! The diet starts in January.