Cross-Posted from Calgary is Awesome.
After a day of checking out art galleries as part of Exposure 2010 last weekend, B. and I decided to grab a bite to eat before swinging over to our last stop - Market Collective. Among Kensington's many eateries, we decided on Peppino, since both of us had been recommended to try the place by multiple friends.
Peppino touts itself as "Calgary's littlest Italy" and somehow the tiny, family-run shop manages to be a deli/cafe, catering company, Italian grocer and community centre (there's a whole wall of flyers advertising Kensington events and activities) all at once.
As first-timers, the giant menu was a little daunting, but the guy behind the counter with the impressive handlebar mustache (Joe?) helped us navigate the menu, recommending the meaty Joe's Special ($8.75). I scanned the vegetarian side of the menu board and decided on the Roasted Combo ($9.00), which combines Peppino's roasted eggplant and roasted red pepper into one yummy sandwich.
There was a bit of a wait for the sandwiches, but that gave us time to really browse the shelves and fridges/freezer that take up most of the space in the shop - there were imported pastas, tomato products, olive oil and biscotti, but I was more intrigued by the food made in-store. One freezer held packs of gnocchi, ravioli and tortellini, giant pans of lasagna and tiramisu, and tubs of sauces, soups and stews. A smaller freezer was home to containers of house-made gelato and sorbetto, with flavours as traditional as vanilla bean and pistachio and as exotic as ginger and Coca-Cola.
But back to the sandwich -
Both vegetables were marinated in a spiced olive oil, so the sandwich was a little greasy, but I loved the distinctive lemony and peppery taste of the olive oil mixed with the sweetness of the roasted red pepper and the meatiness of the eggplant. Texture-wise, the crisp lettuce and tomato contrasted well with the soft, roasted vegetables. This was a really good sandwich. My only quibble? A little on the salty side.
I wasn't as impressed with Joe's Special as I was with the Roasted Combo. Despite featuring three types of meat - mortadella, capicolla and calabrese salami - the meats didn't really distinguish themselves from each other, save the slightly spicy salami. In retrospect, although I'm sure one sandwich would've fed the two of us, I'm glad we got two so we could try a little more of the menu... though we've barely scratched the surface!
Being a family-run restaurant, the staff were very friendly, checking in to see how we liked their recommendations when B. went up to the counter again to pick up a few things for his freezer. All of them wished us a good weekend as we left as well.
While I don't think I'll be having Joe's Special again, I'll definitely be heading back to Peppino to work through more of their sub menu, or to pick up some of their handmade treats for some authentic Italian at home. Guinness gelato, anyone?
101-1240 Kensington Rd NW
Calgary AB T2N 3P7