My new home of Calgary and I have been flirting, that early stage of all new relationships, where everything is unknown and exhilarating. The heady adventure of trying the city’s restaurants, tasting what it has to offer. But inevitably come the questions. Is this just a fling? Is fine dining here only steakhouses and seared tuna? Is it me?

But then I ate at Capo and everything was clear. I’ve found a true love in Calgary, a place to anticipate, a place to crave, a place that makes my heart flutter.

Capo, Calgary

Enroute magazine praised Capo as Canada’s second-best new restaurant of 2006. But I met Chef Giuseppe Di Gennaro through work, before the accolades started rolling in. I was intrigued by his small but sophisticated restaurant and his passion for simple but sophisticated Italian food.

My girlfriend Zu and I had a rare weekday off and decided to treat ourselves to lunch at Capo. We were the first of the lunch crowd to arrive and could see the chef through the large opening into the kitchen. There are only about 30 seats in the dining room and it filled up quickly with ladies who lunch and business people with corporate accounts.

We started with the calamari and maybe I’m being dramatic but it was the BEST CALAMARI I’VE EVER HAD. EVER. The baby squid ($14) was lightly battered, and infused with lime, sugar and smoked paprika, on top of a salad of orange and baby greens. It was incredible. My eyes just got wider with every bite.

Capo, Calgary

Zu chose the Rosette ($16) as her main course – fresh ravioli filled with Bolognese ragout, splashed with sauteed mushrooms, cheese fondue and crispy sage finish. Amazing.

I had the lunch trio special of the day ($25.95): a tomato salad, pan-fried veal medallions, and penne with tomato sauce. It sounded pretty straight-forward but the “salad” turned out to be a whole tomato creatively sandwiched with thin slices of cucumber, topped with goat cheese and painted with balsamic vinegar.

Capo, Calgary

The veal was incredible, one of those times when the veal actually tasted like veal and not chicken. The penne came in a cute mini cast-iron pot with its own lid. There are lots of little touches like that at Capo.

Capo, CalgaryAs we sipped our perfect closing cappuccino and caffe latte, I noticed that even with just a dozen tables, Capo had three or four servers out on the floor. Now, that’s attention to detail.

Capo’s staff provide the best service I’ve encountered in a long time. Attentive, smart, precise, and I dare say, quite good-looking.

Indulgence like this does not come cheap. But unlike some of the mediocre high-end restaurants in town, Capo is worth every penny. I’ll be saving up for our next date.

Capo, 1420-9th Ave. SE, Calgary, Alberta, (403) 264-2276. Open for lunch Wed-Fri 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., dinner Mon-Sat from 5:30 p.m. Closed Sundays and most holidays. More info here.

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