To celebrate my birthday, my soon to be in-laws invited me to Da Guido restaurant, a Calgary institution. L’s father greeted us at the door and wished me a happy birthday. Our server, Zul, (there is no Dana, there is only Zuul) overheard and made a point of making me, as well as the entire family, feel very welcome.
On the table, there were baskets of warm bread, pats of butter, and bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. L’s father ordered bottles of Zenato Valpolicella ($45). Shortly after we placed our order, Zul smuggled out complimentary bruschetta to our table. The bruschetta was tasty – the flavours of the tomatoes were very vibrant.
Our table passed on appetizers, as we didn’t want to over eat. Most of us were still suffering the ill effects of a particularly glutinous Christmas. Everyone at the table ordered a different entrée: Cannelloni Guido ($18.50); Linguine Puttanesca ($18.50); Linguine Pescatora ($22.00), Involtini Marinara ($27.00); Grigliata di Pesce ($30.00); and Lombata di Vitello Pepe ($32.00).
I opted for the Lombata di Vitello Pepe, a veal chop in black pepper, cognac and cream sauce. Cooked to a medium rare, the meat was so tender I barely needed to chew. I’ve never seen such a piece of veal; it was a huge, thick slice with the bone-in. I was half tempted to pick it up by the bone and start chewing away, a la Fred Flintstone but I didn’t want to incite Zul’s wrath. I used leftover bread to mop up the cognac cream sauce. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but hell, it was my birthday. Well, technically it would be in two days, but it was close enough for me.
As all entrees included side dishes. Zul brought out two platters of vegetables and pasta to be shared family style. We received a dish of broccolini and marble-sized potatoes. The greens were cooked perfectly so that it was there was still a bit of a snap. Everyone at the table raved about the potatoes. We weren’t sure what it was at first, as each potato was as small as a marble, and white in colour. Buttered and seasoned, the potatoes were tasty, soft and mealy. The penne pasta was shaped into big tubes, cooked so that it still had a bit of a chew, and it was saturated in a light, zesty tomato sauce. I enjoyed the penne so much, I’d return again solely for the pasta.
For dessert, we ordered a round of coffee, mango berry cheesecake ($7.00) and spumoni ice-cream. Though I opted out of dessert, Zul put a sparkler on L’s cheesecake and he insisted I have a little bite. The cheesecake was creamy and not too sweet. The food was lovely and the dinner was a real treat. However, it was the stellar service that made this birthday dinner so special.