Santa Maria Goretti Centre, Edmonton

This has got to be Edmonton’s best-kept secret. This is pranzo (Italian for lunch) and it’s magnifico! For a measly $17, you can feast on seven courses at the Santa Maria Goretti Community Centre.

The menu changes every Sunday and is served family-style on platters.

Of course, this is God’s reward for those who attended Sunday Mass next door, but I’m sure He would embrace us heathen too.

The hall is fairly empty when we seat ourselves at 11 a.m. right when pranzo begins. Coffee and water soon appear on the red-checkered table but we notice the regulars straggle in with bottles of red wine from the bar.

“I feel like a Soprano,” says Timmy.

Antipasta with salami, ham, and cheese comes first with a huge loaf of crusty bread. But I shall not let the bread defeat me. There are six more courses to come.

Thin rings of lightly battered calamari arrive on a silver platter with lemon wedges. It’s not too oily or chewy. So simple and so delicious that I cave a little, taking second helpings.

Santa Maria Goretti Brunch, Edmonton

At this point, the hall has started to fill with well-dressed Italian families. The wall of shimmery streamers is shakin’ and the big screen TV has switched from Fox News to baseball.

Penne with tomato sauce comes next. Like the calamari, it’s simple and delicious.

The next silver platter holds amazingly lean and tasty Italian sausage with grilled red and green peppers. This is by far the dish of choice for the men of the table.

We ladies however lean more toward the moist chicken breast stuffed with cheese and heart of palm. A separate veggie platter features green beans, carrots and roasted potatoes. Our table is overflowing.

Santa Maria Goretti Brunch, Edmonton

A iceberg lettuce salad with a punchy vinaigrette arrives last. It keeps my tummy from bursting.

We get strawberry shortcake for dessert. But we also get a surprise from Chef Sergio Re. He was so tickled with us asking to take a photo with him earlier that he sends over shots of grappa.

Never mind that it smells like paint thinner or that it’s barely 1 p.m., it’s still a nice surprise. Salute!

Santa Maria Goretti Community Centre, 11050-90 St. (behind Commonwealth Stadium), Edmonton, Alberta, (780) 426-5026. Brunch every Sunday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. CASH ONLY!

Santa Maria Goretti Centre, Edmonton