Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Enzo's on 76 | Summer Tasting Menu - Edmonton, AB

A few weeks ago, we decided to try out the recently opened Enzo's on 76 and were impressed by the no-frills authentic Italian pastas and desserts. Although we had planned on returning in any case, we were pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Enzo's inviting us to try some dishes from the upcoming summer menu. We were warmly greeted by Vincenzo ("Enzo") himself and his partner, Wade, as we arrived.

Summer Salad
The first dish in our set menu was the Summer Salad, consisting of radicchio, mandarin oranges, red onions, and Roma tomatoes in an olive oil, balsamic, and mint dressing. The tomatoes were meaty and fresh, and the mandarins added a nice sweet overtone. My favourite part of the dish, however, was the tasty dressing - I could barely believe it only consisted of three ingredients! Although the salad didn't look too overwhelming when it first arrived, I actually had a difficult time finishing my portion. I also found the mandarin peels slightly chewy - a comparatively small issue for an overall unique and delicious salad.

Bocconcini Cheese Wrapped in Prosciutto and Radicchio
Next we were served a dish of oven-baked Bocconcini cheese wrapped in prosciutto and radicchio, with a strawberry balsamic dressing. I found the prosciutto got a little lost in the other components, and the radicchio was quite veiny, making it tough to cut through with my knife.  However, this would have been easily solved by serving this dish on a plate rather than in a bowl. Again, I enjoyed the strawberry dressing, which provided a sweet contrast to the salty cheese. Although I am a huge fan of cheese, I have to say I preferred the other dishes that night. That being said, our other companion loved this dish and was ready to ask for another serving.

Sundried Tomato and Caper Chicken with Lemon Garlic Sauce
served with Sautéed Broccolini and Pancetta 
The hands-down favourite of our meal was the chicken dish. We were told by Wade that Enzo's was considering adding this dish as either a side or in a larger portion as a main; the unanimous opinion was that this dish was much too good to be simply a side! The chicken was tender and moist and the lemon garlic sauce was my favourite part of the dish (sauces seem to be where Enzo's excels!). The sauce had just the right amount of acidity and paired well with the saltiness of the sun-dried tomatoes. Although personally I am a fan of sun-dried tomatoes, I can see the sun-dried tomatoes becoming overwhelming to other diners, especially in that amount. The broccolini and pancetta paired excellently with each other and was a nice and light side to the chicken - perfect for a summer dish!

Affogato and Tiramisu Dessert
For dessert, Chef Vincenzo suggested we try the Affogato and the Tiramisu. We had already tried the tiramisu on our last visit, so we knew what to expect, but the affogato was a new experience for all of us. The bitter espresso shot and creamy gelato complemented each other perfectly. Although I had been blown away by the tiramisu last time, I actually thought the affogato bested the tiramisu this time around.

After our dessert, Head Chef and Owner Vincenzo Tagliente was kind enough to take some time to talk about the personal journey which led him to opening Enzo's on 76, even though the restaurant remained absolutely packed at this point. Vincenzo was originally conceived in Italy, but was born a Canadian citizen. His father, at age thirteen, began working as a baker. Like father like son, at a similar age, Vincenzo also began working as a baker in his father's bakery. However, he took after his mother and grandmother in that he developed a passion for cooking, rather than baking, at a young age. Since then, he has been working in the industry at various restaurants - four total - for eighteen years. After a three-month soul-searching stint in Italy, Vincenzo returned to Canada where he met his co-owner Wade. From their two brilliant minds sprung the vision of Enzo's, which boasts fresh, local ingredients and true simple, Italian dining. Like a good Italian man, Vincenzo places great value on family and the home. As such, his vision for Enzo's is simple: cosy, home environment; always open; and "like my grandmother says for a good Italian pasta, keep it simple!"

If you haven't tried Enzo's yet, the new summer menu will be a perfect chance to try it out. The summer menu, from what we experienced, focuses on fresh, multi-layered flavours in light, refreshing, summer-themed dishes. Enzo's obviously strives to bring honest, innovative food to the table and with (relatively-young-for-his-success) Head Chef Vincenzo at the helm, they're doing a great job so far! Hopefully the chicken will make its way to the menu as a full-fledged main course, and if so, it is definitely worth a try!

"Always Open" with All Eric Can Eat and Head Chef Vincenzo

Top Pick of the Night: Lemon-garlic Chicken with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Capers

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