Pasta isn’t an appetizer in Italy. It’s a course all to itself. It’s not something you haphazardly toss from its packaging into a pot of boiling water. You don’t just throw it at the wall and hope it sticks. It’s something you make from scratch using the best ingredients. And that’s what makes the pasta at Corso 32 so amazing – the garganelli is served with a traditional Bolognese sauce, something most people have had countless times. But Chef Daniel Costa handcrafts the pasta, and it has an al dente texture that’s a perfect match for the rich meat sauce that easily coats each delicate piece. And that attention to detail transcends all the dishes at this tiny restaurant named for his family’s home address in Italy. The fried short rib is incredibly tender with the savoury taste of the meat complemented by sweetness of shaved pear. But if you want a truly sweet end to the meal, the chocolate torta is full of rich flavour, perfect for sharing between your table, so you can each enjoy a bite, even though you’re already satisfied. -C.B.
10345 Jasper Ave., 780-421-4622, corso32.com
When our judges discussed their best-restaurant selections, no category was debated as meticulously as Italian. Modern Italian? Rustic Italian? A place for pasta? There were judges who said the Italian section should be sliced into three subcategories. Cibo, though, might be hard to place in even a very specific subcategory. It’s modern and rustic at the same time; homemade charcuterie is playfully set on the menu alongside polenta frites. And the meatball sandwich, served on an organic spelt flour baguette, was good enough to be on our 25 Best Things to Eat list in 2013. Homemade pasta in brown butter sauce. Italian doughnuts as light as feathers. It’s hard to say what kind of Italian restaurant Cibo is – other than it’s an excellent Italian restaurant. -S.S.
11244 104 Ave., 780-757-2426, cibobistro.com
Homestyle Italian is best enjoyed when you’re made to feel at home, and the folks at Cafe Amore Bistro know it. The family-owned-and-operated bistro carries all the charm and character of a traditional Italian caf, right down to the gingham tablecloths. Artisan breads, homemade pastas and sausages, creamy wine-infused sauces, imported mozzarella and fresh lobsters hand-picked from the tank are just some of the delights at dinner. The savvy lunchtime crowd pours in for the panini, filled with mouthwatering proteins such as rib-eye and traditional homemade meatballs. Attentive service keeps diners content while the wine flows and the ample portions mount – ensuring full-stomach satisfaction. -Cory Haller
10807 106 Ave., 780-477-7896, cafeamorebistro.com