…Cucina (Calgary)

Overall - 7.5/10
Food - 7/10
Service - 8/10
Ambiance - 8/10
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Cucina, an Italian bistro, is owned by the Teatro Restaurant Group along with Vendome Café.  Along with the rest of the restaurants in the Teatro Group (we have yet to try Carne Street Meat), we came out with mixed feelings on our meal.  Some dishes looked and tasted amazing while others, we weren't quite as impressed with.  

For our appetizers, we had the chicken liver parfait and the arrancini.  First thing we noticed was the large size of the appetizers, which would be great for sharing.  The chicken liver parfait was excellent: very creamy, smooth and went perfectly with the sour-cherry balsamic and cipollini jam.  Cucina was able to overcome the tendency for liver to taste overly "mineral-y" and was very pleasant on the toasted ciabatta crostini.
The arrancini seemed great on the menu and on the plate.  There was three very large arrancini arranged on a small amount of salsa verde.  The risotto in the arrancini was bland and would have been improved with a touch more salt.  The pork belly was slightly overcooked and also didn't add much flavour to the arrancini itself.  The salsa verde was again, in need of more salt and more of it would have perhaps given it more kick.  The outside was quite crisp but could not improve the large amount of bland doughy filling.  
For our mains, we had the "Market European Rotisserie" which was the prime rib and the "Market Fish" which was a halibut.  The prime rib was served with fried onions (or cipollini/shallots?), pureed potatoes and lots of mushroom gravy.  The prime rib was tender, consistently medium-rare throughout, had a nice outer crust and was enhanced by the delicious mushroom gravy.  This was perhaps one of the best prime ribs we've had and we felt it was worth the $44 price tag.  
The halibut on the other hand, we felt was not worth the $37 we paid.  The halibut had an olive and sun dried tomato crust and served on top of fingerling potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts and pesto.  The fish itself was on the dry side and the brussel sprouts undercooked.  The olive and tomato crust, we felt was too overpowering for the fish and did not seem to go well with the flavours of the pesto.  There was also chilli oil drizzled on the side.  All these different flavours didn't seem to meld and was a little confusing.  
Overall, we had a mixed experience at Cucina and probably would have enjoyed our experience more if we had stuck with their rotisserie meats.  We didn't stay for dessert this time but if we give Cucina another try, we'll have to remember to save some room.


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