The Century Hospitality Group has added to its culinary empire with the recent opening of Parlour Italian Kitchen & Bar on Capital Boulevard (108 Street), just north of Grant MacEwan University.
The beautifully renovated space features gorgeous amounts of brick, wood, sky-high ceilings, modern industrial-style lighting and a massive wood-burning oven. The lounge and kitchen occupy the main floor with dining situated upstairs.
2013 Gold Medal Plates winner, Chef Paul Shufelt, along with Chef Tony Le, created the Italian menu, that, much like the decor, truly is a marriage between beauty and taste. The two men, each with culinary cred a mile long, put together a menu of classic Italian dishes like arancini, calamari, lasagna and pizza (and more). Don’t be fooled by the implied simplicity; each dish is ramped up with the chef’s personal touches and innovation. The calamari is drizzled with white balsamic vinegar and honey; the arancini gets a subtle infusion of taleggio; the ‘twenty layer’ lasagna towers with tender short ribs and a roster of ingredients sandwiched between ribbons of house-made pasta, and the thin crust pizzas – with too many topping options to mention – are capable of being created a hundred different ways to Sunday. The dessert list is short and, appropriately, sweet: lemon tart, panna cotta, tiramisu, chocolate torta, and gelato.
Service was exactly how it should be – knowledgeable, timely, and friendly.
Arancini – Five glorious globes of risotto, taleggio cheese, a hint of truffle oil with arugula and shaved parmesan.
Calamari – fresh and tender with a delicate, crispy coating, gently imbued with white balsamic vinegar and honey, spiked with the occasional jalapeno ring and accompanied by a charred lime for spritzing. Out of all the food we tried, this was everyone’s favourite.
Panzanella Salad – tomatoes, garden greens, red onions and olives in a balsamic vinaigrette with thin pieces of ciabatta bread on top. Quality ingredients and flavour to spare, yes, but this would be even better if the bread was presented in rustic chunks and mixed in with the oil and vinegar to highlight the feature of this Tuscan dish also known as pan molle (drenched bread).
As for the mains…
Lemon Prawn Capellini – If it’s your first visit to Parlour, don’t even look at anything else. Lemon, olive oil, sun-kissed, tiny tomatoes, exquisite prawns…each ingredient in this dish complements the other. Just order it.
This behemoth is described as “mama’s specialty with Sangiovese braised short ribs, taleggio cheese, spinach, house made ricotta, parmigiano, crushed tomatoes, basil, béchamel, rich tomato sauce and layers of mozzarella”. That’s a lot of lasagna. So big in fact, it’s impossible to get all those flavours in one bite. A big portion of this dish came home, and having just eaten it for lunch, I can tell you that it tasted even better as leftovers. Some might like their lasagna saucier, but I doubt this tower would hold its shape if more liquid was introduced.
Make way for the meatball sandwich. This one’s a keeper. House-made bread holding a handful of arugula, a thick slab of gorgeous mozzarella, and three beautiful flavour bombs equals meatball magic.
Thought we’d get crazy and create our own pizza. Out of the 30 toppings, we probably chose the two juiciest: roasted corn and short rib meat. Great flavour, but the toppings were too wet and interfered with that lovely crust. Lesson learned. When it comes to pizza, stay classic, my friends.
Dessert: The chocolate torta is a chocolate lover’s dream, but the tiramisu is where true Nirvana lies. I didn’t know tiramisu could taste that good. Thank you Parlour for changing my opinion of this espresso-tinged, ladyfinger piece of heaven.
Need more? My CBC Edmonton AM review with Mark Connolly can be heard here.