Remember La Vita e Bella? It’s Been Reinvented as a New Italian Restaurant Called Cardinale

It’s now a hipper, more comfortable Italian restaurant with a strong cocktail focus.


For a decade, La Vita e Bella was the perfect spot for a pre-Saddledome Italian meal. Tucked in next to Cowboys Casino, the restaurant had a prime location, but after 10 years the owners wanted to give it a refresh. Riding high on the success of his Kensington barbecue joint, Hayden Block Smoke and Whiskey, co-owner Jared Kichula decided it was time for a make-over when the lease came up last fall.

The lease stipulated that the space remain an Italian restaurant, but Kichula and his partners decided to renovate and turn La Vita e Bella into a hipper, more comfortable Italian spot with a strong cocktail focus – the restaurant is actually named after the cardinale cocktail, a boozy mix of Campari, vermouth and gin. In addition to other concoctions like Sage Advice (a gin-based cocktail that gets its bright green colour from sage and peas), Cardinale also boasts a handsome list of Italian wines.

Chef Steven Dowdell was around for the La Vita e Bella days, but he’s overhauled the menu, going for a more casual vibe. Pasta plays a big part, with must-trys like the mezza maniche with a carbonara-style sauce made with bone marrow and bacon from the Hayden Block smoker, and the pappardelle with slow-cooked veal shin ragu and burnt chicken liver. More traditional entrees such as veal rib-eye steak and pork braciola are also available for those who prize protein over carbs.

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


photograph by jared sych

Inside Cardinale.


photograph by jared sych

Cardinale’s Sage Advice, a gin-based cocktail that gets its colour from sage and peas.


photograph by jared sych

The Amaro Sour cocktail features amaro punico, meringue, grapefruit bitters, lemon and allspice. 


photograph by jared sych

The mezza maniche is an egg yolk carbonara that’s served with smoked bacon, pecorino and roasted bone marrow.

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