A sizeable, blue, northern pike (Esox lucius) presides over the chic Whyte Ave coffee bar Luzzara. It hangs on the wall, gargantuan mouth agape, and watches the goings-on of this very European spot. Behind the counter, barista Sarah Jackson pulls a mean cappuccino and crowns it with skillfully crafted milk foam leaf art. A glass jar of apple fritters and cookies beckons seductively from a corner while savoury scents sizzle from a panini press. Luzzara, which takes its name from a town in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, is clearly a regular spot for Whyte Ave business owners; a florist and media guru drop in during my brief visit.
Whyte Avenue has experienced significant turnover during the past two years, perhaps due to prohibitive lease rates. This has meant the loss of several good restaurants. Indeed, some may argue that Edmonton's locus of fine dining is moving north of the river, reclaiming its natal territory on Jasper Ave. I agree, to some extent, but counter that one of the city's finest coffee spots holds its own on the Ave of Whyte. There are not many fish like this one.