PZA Parlour recently opened up in south Calgary and I couldn’t have been happier to have had the chance to welcome them to my area of town. The appearance of a family owned Italian restaurant on MacLeod Trail in the former Ceili’s space is a happy occasion, indeed. While there have been several businesses operating at the same location over the years, I think owner Tony Nicastro has found the secret to success with this family style traditional, yet modern, Italian restaurant. The mostly white and black space is really bright and modern, yet welcoming. Special touches, like the PZA Parlour Vespa scooter near the entrance, and Piaggio Ape (a Vespa truck) that forms the centre area in the bar, add some quirky Italian flare to the space. The huge windows bring in plenty of sunshine and the yet to be opened patio is going to be quite popular.
Having come from a family background with deep roots in the Calgary restaurant scene, Tony has a good idea of what it takes to run a successful business. He grew up working in his Nonna’s restaurant (The Stromboli Inn) and comes from a long familial line of restaurateurs, including his uncles Domenic (Pulcinella) and Peter (Stromboli Inn). Of course there was a time when he went away to learn about life outside the family business but, as is most often the case, he eventually decided to come back to Calgary to work in the industry he knew and loved most. Tony became a part of his uncle Frank Nicastro’s business, the Tudor Rose, then took over the business side of his father’s restaurant, Villa Firenze.
During the weekend of April 28-May 1, PZA Parlour celebrated their grand opening with daily specials, tastings and prizes. Many local bloggers, including myself, were invited to enjoy a night of feasting and celebration. While a huge part of the business is dine in and take out pizza, the extensive menu includes traditional favourites such as Spaghetti and Meatballs, Lasagna, Cannelloni, and Veal Parmiggiana. The dishes the kitchen (run by chef Chris Galbraith) brought to our table were all outstanding and gave us a great sampling of the entire menu.
The three salads we sampled are sure to become crowd favourites and there is one for every taste, including one with Italian sausage (Salsiccia) and one with honey candied bacon (Spinachi) for all the meat eaters forced to eat salads by their families. If you want a salad with no meat, then I suggest the Caprino.
The crispy Calamari with smoked lemon aioli was some of the best calamari I’ve had in a while and I love that it is also served with some amazing marinara for extra dipping. Then there was the Pesto Gnocchi. This housemade potato gnocchi was outstanding and the basil cream sauce was so decadent. It’s the sort of dish that you should share with others, even if you want it all to yourself.
The Pizzas were fabulous, however I only managed to get a decent photo of the Nonna Teresa, a ‘margherita’ style pizza named after Tony’s grandmother, Teresa Tudda. The other pizzas we tried (Johnny G and Gio) were named after some of Tony’s favourite Calgary Flames players, Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano. All the toppings are super fresh and high quality while the dough recipe for the crust was created by Tony’s uncle Domenic, specifically for PZA Parlour. The dough uses a blend of Canadian flours, ages for 24 hours, and goes through two proofing cycles before it becomes your pizza. I’m a big fan of ageing dough as I find it much tastier and easier to digest.
Just when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite, the desserts arrived! Delicious ‘family recipe’ Tiramisu in a jar and Ciambelle (Italian doughnuts) which were still warm and covered in nutella. As a thank you, we were given tiny take-out boxes containing the perfect little Limoncello Cream Puffs which I ate the following day with a nice cup of tea. It’s difficult to say which dessert was my favourite, but I will have to go with the cream puff. It was almost like a Baba au Rhum, but with Limoncello!
I enjoyed the experience and food at PZA Parlour and I am hoping to take the family there for dinner soon. Until then, I’ll be dreaming of those Limoncello Cream Puffs!
297 – 9737 Macleod Trail SW