The Very Model Of A Modern Pasta House

Piccolino Bistro pleasantly satisfies Edmonton’s hockey player-sized appetites

PiccoLino Bistro
9112-142nd St., 780-443-2110

Let us all now praise the neighbourhood pasta house. Dotted about crucial junctures all over the city, neighbourhood pasta houses provide a tidy, casual, crowd-pleasing venue for favoured salads, pasta dishes, sometimes pizza and usually a few continental meaty-seafoody entrees for the noodle-averse — something for everyone. And so it is with PiccoLino Bistro, the sparkling jewel of its stripmall in scenic Parkview.

PiccoLino is not just tidy, but nicely adorned in dusky autumnal palette, its modicum of space smartly divvied by glass and wood partitions lined with cozy booths. Early on a Tuesday, the buzz of early diners’ chitchat over glasses of house red was mounting. Dishes of oil and balsamic vinegar sat on every table in anticipation of the dinner rush as the first takeout orders flew out the door. A somewhat tidal exhalation from the kitchen, to which it took a moment to acclimatize, boded many seafood dishes. An immaculately tonsured gent of Mediterranean extraction who was important enough to preside over the dining room in flashy T-shirt, jeans and sneakers greeted customers like he knew ‘em, which was probably the case. PiccoLino feels a bit like a local landmark. (I’ve heard tell the Oilers were — and may still be — frequent patrons, but I didn’t see any of them on my recent visit.)

You want salad? They have insalata mista, spinach, caesar (with chicken if that’s your preference), marinated salad and, our favourite, bocconcini e pomodoro ($11.95). Pizza? Naturally. Pastas? How about vongole, puttanesca, Bolognese, primavera, veal tortellini, pasticcio, to name just a few, and the one I settled on, the penne di mare ($17.95)? Selection-wise, PiccoLino has standard requests nailed. My co-diner ordered from the specials board, a steelhead salmon fillet with garlic prawns in white wine sauce ($21.95). The servers are conspicuously of veteran neighbourhood pasta house stock: comfortable working the room, well versed in the menu, confident about the quality of the product. If you’re more concerned with surprise than reliability, PiccoLino might not be your first choice.

First up, the salad — rounds of creamy unripened cheese perched on fresh, juicy tomato slices and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette — though a little light on the scattering of fresh basil, was the ideal size for sharing. Our server replenished our supply of warm, crusty bread in anticipation of the entrees, which arrived forthwith.

Let there be no cavil about value for money at PiccoLino — the portion sizes are clearly calculated to satisfy hockey player-sized appetites. My dish of pasta, lavished with grated parm by our attentive server, was roughly twice the size of my stomach capacity. My co-diner’s generous portion of salmon and garlic prawns was supplemented by a generous serving of vegetables (zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots) and potatoes.

The tubes of pasta, tossed with a mixture of tomato and Alfredo sauces and well populated with succulent morsels of seafood, registered a 10 on the al dente-meter, firm but yielding to the teeth. I grudgingly parted with a couple of precious seared scallops in order to secure a sample of my co-diner’s perfectly moist salmon fillet and buttery veg.

Although I was satisfied with the quality and composition of my meal, I can tire of even a good thing without some textural variants to slake my unending need for novelty and distraction. Co-diner and I found a quick solution in combining our leftovers so some of the buttery veg and velvety salmon made its way into the rich, tangy pasta for enhanced variety. The kitchen might be affronted if asked to pile two of their culinary creations together, but what you do in the privacy of your home or workplace lunchroom is your own business.

All Content Copyright © SEE Magazine 2008 About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy Terms of Use Contest Disclaimer