The first thing I noticed when I walked inside Posto Pizzeria and Bar is that it isn’t your typical cookie cutter Calgary restaurant. The room is intimate and narrow, while the ceilings are high. The restaurant makes use of every inch of space. For seating, there are chairs along the bar section as well as the the open kitchen. Most of the tables fit three to four, with a section by the front window for larger parties. I like the circular black chandeliers hanging overhead, the wood panel walls, and the warm rustic ambiance.
Jaime was late, but lucky for me, John Robarts, the operations manager of Cibo and Bonterra, kept me occupied. He showed me around the restaurant as well as their sister restaurant, Bonterra Trattoria, which is located next door. I’ve never been to Bonterra, but after I checked out the gorgeous patio and restaurant, I want to check it out. Despite the elegant interior, I noticed both customers and staff were casually dressed. Robarts informed me that Bonterra has worked hard to make the restaurant welcoming for customers, as well as keeping the prices reasonable.
Back to Posto. Elena, our excellent server for the night, informed Jaime and I that the purpose of the preopening was to test the new menu items. She wanted our feedback, so that the kitchen could perfect the dishes, and figure out which dishes worked the best and which ones need more tweaking. Elena encouraged us to sample anything we wanted, and to give her our honest opinion.
The menu is divided into six sections: formaggi; salumi; insalata; piatti; pizza; and ciabatta. We were informed that the food comes out as soon as it is finished in the kitchen, which ensures the food arrives at its best.
We started off with a full portion of the Imported Burrata with olive oil and sea salt ($32). Robarts told us that the burrata is flown in from Italy, at the tender age of six days. I went nuts over this dish. The cheese was rich, with the consistency like whipped cream but also light and fresh tasting. The peppery arugula was a nice contrast to the cheese. I would have liked a tiny bit more salt on the side, but only because there was so much burrata. This is a must order dish at Posto.
Next up was Funghi Fritti, with truffle bagna cauda, and charred shishito peppers ($15.00). Elena described the texture of mushroom and crispy coating as similar to fried chicken. I was sold. These vegetarian critters were addicting and not in the least greasy. We both loved the addition of the charred shishito peppers. The flavour of dipping sauce of olive oil, anchovies, salt and pepper and truffle oil was subtle.
The dish of Pan Seared Scallops with green apple, pistachio, smoked ham hock brown butter and cauliflower ($28.00) was gorgeous. The smoked ham hock was flavorful and tender. The scallops were plump and meaty, nicely caramelized on the outside, and cooked to my preference, just past rare. However, the scallops tasted a tad fishy. Elena came over and asked me if I liked the scallops. I chickened out and didn’t bring it up. Seriously, I must have issues if I can’t be more direct with Elena, particularly as she made it clear she wanted our input, good and bad. My bad, I’m working on it.
Next up was the Spinach Pizza with shallots, garlic, chanterelles, and grana padano ($16.00). My god, this was the perfect pizza. No offense to all the other pizzerias in Calgary, but Posto nailed it. Jaime said it was the best pizza she’s eaten, and named about half a dozen joints in Vancouver that don’t even come close.
The crust was a golden brown, thin and crispy enough that you get hear that crunch when you bite into the slice. The portion of toppings was proportional, so that you were never eating more crust than toppings. The shallots gave the sauce a sweetness and the chanterelles were toothsome morsels. The grana padano was generously layered on top of the pie, as we could taste it in each bite.
The only thing that is holding me back from making Posto one of my favourite restaurants on Urbanspoon is a revisit as a paying customer. Jaime and I plan to return again, and often, particularly for the pizza and burrata. Jaime informed me this was the best meal she’s ever eaten in Calgary. Next time I visit, I have my eye on: the Squid Ink Ravioli with lobster, saffron cream and shellfish oil ($24.00); the Beef Cheek Bone Marrow with winter squash, mustard greens ($18.00); and the Tuna Meatballs with spiced tomato, kumquat, and pecorino ($14.00). As well, I’m interested in dropping by for Chef Ben Mills special three course meal at the bar, which is offered Sunday through Thursday, at a first come, first serve basis.