I call early on a Friday to make a reservation for that night at Nello’s in St. Albert. It’s been an Italian-cuisine staple for nearly two decades. Now that the owners opened two other locations in the last year — one on Edmonton’s south side and Antonio’s by Nello’s downtown — you’d think tables wouldn’t be a scarcity.
But the friendly waiter laughs before he says, “For tonight?” We arrive for a late supper to a full house and it’s reminiscent of restaurants in Italy where evening meals are more like lengthy events. Our tag line for the night: When at Nello’s, do as the Italians do.
So, we pile the table with dishes, starting with a huge portion of carbonara, which we crown “breakfast pasta,” with its mix of bacon, eggs and mushrooms. For bacon lovers, there’s no comparable entree — the smokiness permeates the dish. But our favourite is the fettuccine di mare, a rich combination of mussels, shrimp, clams, tiger prawns and scallops with a garlic finish atop a huge helping of pasta.
All pasta comes with your choice of Nello’s signature Gigi sauce, a blend of alfredo and a tomato-based rosé, or either sauce on its own. If you go for the pasticcio dish, you can try all options mixed in five baked pastas.
Finish off with the in-house made tiramisu — lady fingers are soaked in brandy, Baileys, Kahlua and espresso, then layered with marscapone cheese, whipped cream and Bernard Callebaut chocolate melted between. The jolt of caffeine is the perfect end to a rich meal leaving you ready for more socializing rather than a nap. (512 St. Albert Trail, St. Albert, 780-460-8505)