You don’t have to be Italian to feel at home in this cozy bistro.
Photograph by Cory Haller
When walking into Caf Amore Bistro – an Italian restaurant with seafood dishes located just a few blocks behind MacEwan University – you can’t help but feel at home. The cozy atmosphere, complete with gingham tablecloths, old-world instruments and intimate lighting is a warm welcome. But not nearly as warm as the one from Cristo Crudo, the co-owner of the bistro, who greets diners with a handshake, a smile and a “welcome, friends.” Each table is paid a special visit from this restaurateur as he ensures his customers are happy – and well-fed.
The menu reads like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. You choose the combinations you want – from the pastas, to the sauces, to the proteins. We start with mussels, which can be bathed in either a tomato, ros or creamy white wine sauce; we choose the latter, and it doesn’t disappoint. The mussels fall from their shells with ease and swim in the creamy sauce, absorbing every ounce of the delicious garlic-infused flavour. The sauce itself is not overpowering, but rather complements the shellfish perfectly.
To follow, we order a one-pound lobster – one of many in a tank at the rear of the restaurant – and choose it served with linguini. Crudo selects a live lobster and brings it to our table for inspection. The lobster soon returns transformed into a hearty pasta dinner, with a spicy, but light, cayenne sauce.
With the lobster devoured, we mop up the rest of our delicious sauces with a floury and fluffy Portuguese waterbread, making sure not to lose an ounce. We finish the meal with a limoncello – an Italian lemon liqueur – which leaves the palate clean of the garlic-laden dinner. Crudo makes one last appearance, smiles, and says, “Welcome to the family.” (10807 106 Ave., 780-477-7896, cafeamorebistro.com)