Cardinale | Calgary’s 25 Best Restaurants 2018

Taking over La Vita e Bella’s former space, Cardinale’s Italian cuisine and cocktails are a winning combination.

Cardinale's mezza maniche with roasted bone marrow and Hayden Block-smoked bacon. Photograph by Jared Sych.

FOOD | Modern Italian.
VIBE | Convivial, pre-Flames anticipatory.
DECOR | Comfy and stylish with plush velvet banquettes and exposed brick.
DISH | Mezze maniche, with roasted bone marrow and Hayden Block-smoked bacon.
TIP | Try a cocktail made with kitchen ingredients such as clam brodo and green peas.


The latest Italian joint to take up residence within the historic Defoe building just outside the Stampede grounds in Victoria Park, Cardinale is new-school Italian with an old-school neighbourhood vibe.

Evidence of the building’s history of housing Italian eateries – a requirement of the lease – can be seen in the layers of generations-old wallpaper in the area between the bar and patio.

The bar is front and center, enticing the after-work and late-night crowds with interesting cocktails. The main dining room is small, yet spacious, and lined with cozy banquettes. There are also two smaller, semi-private dining rooms (or private, depending on the size of your group).

Chef Steven Dowdell and his team make everything from scratch, including fresh pasta every morning. The kitchen also makes use of meats that have been fully or partially smoked at sister restaurant Hayden Block in Kensington.

The menu is broken down into antipasti, pasta (in half or full servings) and large plates (think veal ribeye and seared sea bass), with traditional dolce (house-made sweets, gelato and sorbetto) for dessert.

401 12 Ave. S.E., 403-264-6046,


Cardinale’s dining room is a cozy spot to enjoy some Italian fare. Photograph by Jared Sych.


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