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Monday, 13 May 2013

Enzo's on 76 - A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Every neighbourhood should have a little restaurant. The regular spot where one orders "the usual." Those that live downtown, near Whyte Ave, or close to 124 Street have no shortage of "usuals" from which to choose, but Edmontonians who reside in purely residential areas typically get the short end of the stick. Exceptions exist, of course, but this pattern is the rule, rather than the exception.

Enter Enzo's on 76. This brand new Italian spot just opened - quite literally. Today was Enzo's first official day in business, though a soft open preceded this evening by a few days. Enzo's graces the former digs of Tra Amici, which slowly faded off Edmonton's food radar a few years ago. No one seems to quite know what happened to them either. The interior has been dextrously reinvented with tilework, warm lighting, and comfy wooden tables. Chef Enzo has an astute eye for photography; what were presumed to be commercial prints are actually photographs from his Italian travels.

Supper selections are divided into Antipasti, Zuppa, Pasta, and Secondi, with five or six selections under each heading. Insalata Mista starts off the evening with a nattily dressed collection of greens and veg. The balsamic dressing is perkier than most, though the tomatoes are a wee bit underripe. 'Tis a comment lament in this city, it seems.

Zuppa Del Giorno, on this particular day, is mushroom. A floating crostino island crowns this bracing bowl of finely textured liquid. Microscopic, glistening spheres of olive oil orbit the crostino like stars in a solar system. Competition for the crusty crostino edges is fierce.

Pasta Bolognese (and one is given the choice of long or short pasta) revels in its beautiful simplicity. A hearty and toothsome tomato sauce bursts with rich and sweet beef ravishes each tendril of pasta and would be equally at home on a frigid Canadian night or a torrid evening in Puglia.

Pasta Pescatore is a sailor's ransom of crab legs, prawns, scallops, clams and mussels. An airy, salty-sweet broth pools at the bottom of the platter and sings a siren song for errant slices of bread to find comfort in its sultry depths. The mussels are strong, the scallops are mild, the crab legs are pre-cracked, and a few sprinkles of red chilies evoke a seaside feast.

Tiramisu, as with the Bolognese, follows the recipe of Enzo's mother. This cloud in a dish whispers of mascarpone with casual interjections of espresso. Gem-like strawberries add a vibrant counterpoint.

Enzo's on 76 has the potential to become "the usual spot" for many southside neighbourhoods, and is well worth the journey for those who reside further away. Downtown may be happening, 124 may be chic, and Whyte may be funky, but any neighbourhood would be lucky to have a restaurant like Enzo's.

Enzo's on 76 on Urbanspoon


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