Assembli

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Disclosure: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

Last week, we were invited to check out the newly opened Assembli on Cambie between West 7th and 8th near Broadway station. The focus on two main items: pizzas and salads. What differentiates them is the fact that their pizzas and salads are one set price and you can add as many ingredients as you want. This means the customer doesn’t end up with an expensive meal at checkout, and also makes it easier for the staff as they don’t need to constantly keep track of what “additional” items you got. 11 inch pizzas are $12.99 and salads come in regular size for $10.99 and large for $12.99.

 

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The interior has high ceilings and a beautiful painting of Vancouver. There are enough seats for you to dine in, but because of how quick the assembly line is, you can also grab and go. They offer online ordering for pick up, but have also teamed up with some other delivery companies, like Foodora to deliver straight yo your place. While we were there, I couldn’t help but notice the constant in and out of the Foodora deliveries.

 

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If you choose to come in to make your pizza or salad, then you can see all the ingredients you can add through the glass shield.

 

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Although you can customize your pizzas and salads, for those of you who cannot make decisions when there are an overwhelming amount of options, you can choose preset options. We were able to try some of these preset options at the tasting.

 

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O-Mega Brainiac

We started off trying some of their salads which were beautiful in colour. The O-Mega Brainiac came with mixed greens, quinoa, cucumber, cabbage, blueberries, beets, avocado salsa, walnuts, seed mix, and the goddess dressing. Normally, this salad comes with the glory dressing which is more of a tahini dressing. This was bright and great for the summer with the blueberries and avocado salsa.

 

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Sexy Hippie

One of my favourites was the Sexy Hippie which has brown rice, quinoa, roasted root veggies, celery, beets, parsley, walnuts, apple, and a honey dijon dressing. I think the honey dijon dressing was what got me as it was slightly acidic but sweet at the same time, making it very appetizing.

 

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Wild Cowboy

The Wild Cowboy reminded me of a deconstructed taco or burrito with all the fillings you would normally find in Mexican food. This had mixed greens, romaine, black beans, mixed bell peppers, roasted corn salsa, brown rice, cheddar, pico de gallo, and a southwest dressing. Ours also came with shredded chicken. Another favourite for me and I don’t even normally order salads!

 

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All Greek to Me

Onto the pizzas, these are just the right thickness. The crust is not as thin as flatbread, but not thick like the ones you get at Pizza Hut. Just the perfect thickness! The All Greek to Me pizza normally comes with genoa salami, goat feta, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, olives, olive oil tossed kale, artichoke, tomato sauce, and balsamic drizzle. Ours came without the salami but was already flavourful enough. This was my least favourite pizza as I’m not a fan of feta or olives. That’s exactly why the customization ability is perfect here!

 

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Smoke & Fire

Smoke and Fire features pepperoni, smoked cheddar, mozzarella, banana peppers, red onion, and a spicy tomato sauce. This is for those who love a bit of a kick. I actually really enjoyed this but would probably need a beer with it!

 

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Backyard BBQ

A colourful pizza was the Backyard BBQ which features herb-roasted chicken, mozzarella, cheddar cheese, red onion, bell peppers, cilantro, bbq sauce, yogurt drizzle, and an adobo sauce drizzle. The pizza is sweet from the onions and bbq sauce and would be great with the kids.

 

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Smooth Crimini Kale

Lastly, the Smooth Crimini Kale was my favourite. I love meat, but sometimes I actually crave vegetarian pizzas. This pizza has sautéed mushrooms, mozzarella, olive oil tossed kale, artichoke, red onion, and white sauce. All my favourite ingredients and you also feel super healthy eating it.

 

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Fiasco Gelato

Other than pizzas and salads, they also have a select few desserts, smoothies and gelato! Assembli carries the Fiasco brand gelato in their single serve cups. With so many flavours to choose from like Salted Caramel, Bourbon Vanilla, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, and even dairy free sorbettos like Mango Pineapple, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Raspberry Lime, there is a flavour for everyone!

 

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Overall, Assembli offers fresh ingredients and the ability to customize at a flat price. Definitely a great spot to grab and go or sit down for a quick eat. I love how you can also make your meal really healthy or not so healthy depending on what you add to your pizza or salad. Plus, they have happy hour with drinks for $5 and salads and pizzas for $10!

Assembli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Bibo Pizza al Taglio

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NOTE: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own experience.

Last month, we checked out the newest Bibo Pizza location in Olympic Village called Bibo Pizza al Taglio. It’s a short walk from the Canada Line station and makes a great lunch or dinner spot for the offices and residential buildings nearby.

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The interior has a rustic charm to it with brick walls on one side and hand-painted tile walls on the other. I especially liked this painting which requires a closer to look to find everything all so Roman about it.

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The menu at this location is much smaller, and focusses on Roman style pizza compared to the Neapolitan pizzas we see at their other locations. I first tried Roman style pizza when I was in Rome and fell in love with it! Instead of the typical circular shape, Roman style pizza are usually rectangular and sliced into squares. They also feature some focaccia options and gourmet pizzas with ingredients I haven’t seen elsewhere.

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Aranciata, Chinotto

We started off with some beverages from the Italian brand Lurisia. These are sodas which are imported from Italy. The Aranciata is my favourite as it’s a delicious soda made from oranges from the bays of the Adriatic sea. Think Fanta but way better. The Chinotto is also a fruit similar to an orange and tastes sort of like cola but not as sweet. Both are great choices to get a taste of Italy!

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The pizzas here are sold by slice with the exception of the gourmet pizzas which require an order of 3 for $20. However, the owner said that the menu will be changing and he hopes to offer the gourmet pizzas by slices as well. The gourmet pizzas are also made to order and ready within 10 minutes.

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Margherita, Prosciutto e Funghi, and Diavola

We first got to sample their traditional pizzas which included the Margherita, Prosciutto e Funghi and Diavola. The Margherita is topped with DOP tomato sauce, bocconcini fior di latte and basil. DOP means that the tomato sauce is certified to be locally grown and packaged in Italy. The Prosciutto e Funghi is topped with DOP tomato sauce, bocconcini fior di latter, cooked ham and mushrooms. Lots of toppings but I found this one to be rather bland. My favourite was the Diavola which consisted of DOP tomato sauce, bocconcini fior di latte and spicy salami. I really liked the kick of spice!

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#2 – Shitake Mushrooms, Bresaola Cured Meat, Parmigiano Reggiano, Arugula

We also got to try their gourmet pizzas which are made with focaccia and therefore much more fluffy than the traditional. We chose #2 which is topped with shitake mushrooms, bresaola cured meat, parmigiano reggiano, arugula and lemon. Their gourmet pizzas are what I would come back for. I love the variety of toppings which you can’t find at most pizza restaurants, but they actually work! There were so many mushrooms and the salt from the cured meats balanced the flavours very well. I’d definitely order this again.

Overall, we were impressed with the new Bibo location and am excited that we now have Roman style pizza in Vancouver. The prices are slightly higher, especially for the gourmet pizzas, but you get what you pay for. The gourmet pizzas are what I’d definitely come back for.

BiBo Pizza al Taglio Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Steveston Pizza Co.

If you are tired of your typical pepperoni and cheese pizzas, and want to glam up your pizza, look no further to Steveston Pizza Co.. I remember coming here years ago when they first opened and being impressed by their not so ordinary ingredients on pizza. However, the last year or so, they have upped their game by offering expensive ingredients on their pizza and the most expensive item on their menu is a pizza topped with caviar, lobster, tiger prawns, steelhead, and white truffle. That pizza goes for $850! Insane right? Well obviosuly we weren’t ready to dish out $850 for a pizza, so we chose a more affordable pizza, the Princess, for $35. This was topped with shrimp, tiger prawns, and supposedly crab, but it looks like we got smoked salmon instead. This is actually a pretty good value because you get so much shrimp and prawns. I think there were about 8 tiger prawns and they were huge and fresh. If you enjoy seafood, this pizza is for you, but I do find myself leaning towards meat ingredients on pizza so I found this alright.

Pros:
– Good value given the amount of seafood you get
– Creative pizzas, especially if you like seafood

Cons:
– Personally find that seafood and pizza don’t go too well together

Price Range: $20/person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food:3.5 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3 Overall: 3.5

Steveston Pizza Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

BiBo Restaurant -Media Launch

NOTE: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

Last month, I was invited by Peak Communicators to attend the official launch of Bibo Restaurant at Richmond’s McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Mall. They had their soft opening back in October last year, but the official launch was on February 29, 2016. This is now their second location, with the first in Kitsilano.

During the media launch, we were greeted by the owners Andrea and his wife and business partner, Michela. As native Italians, the owners are passionate about creating an authentic atmosphere at the restaurant that mirrors traditional Italian values, heritage, and ambiance.

The interior is bright and modern with long tables for communal type seating.

At the end of the restaurant is a large bar and we were able to sample a variety of drinks.

The Cortese Gavi di Gavi DOCG is a distinguished white wine produced in a very small region surrounding the little town of Gavi. It has a medium body and notes of limes. This wine is exclusive to BiBo.

All other wines are carefully selected and sourced by the owners to ensure it’s consistent with the authentic Italian ambiance and complimentary to the traditional Italian dishes.

We also got to sample some of their Italian sodas which I fancied. These are are imported from Italy and are great for both children and adults.

They had set up a buffet style event for us to showcase some of their best menu items. On one side were a selection of meats.

Bio boasts a selection of fresh and natural ingredients sourced from Italy, including many of these cheese.

Olive oil is imported from Tuscany and Campania, and Porcini mushrooms from Piedmont. The olives and artichokes are from Michela’s uncle who owns a farm in Salerno.

I asked the servers to give me a sample of everything. This included the Coppa Piacentina, which is a seasoned meat left to age for at least six weeks.

So many choices of fresh meats and cheese, so a perfect place to get a charcuterie board along with a glass of wine.

Risotto Balls were Crispy on the outside and gooey in the inside.

There were also a selection of polenta bites. They also offer gluten-free and vegetarian options.

We then got to watch the pizza chefs in action. BiBo’s pizza chefs are all from Napoli and have trained at the Neapolitan Pizza School. All pizza crusts are hand-stretched and baked in a wood0fired oven and topped with the highest quality ingredients.

This was the Butternut Squash Pizza. I liked the sweetness of the squash along with the salty meat. The crust is definitely really light and crispy. This is what you call thin crust! Usually I’m not a fan of eating the crust, but this was really good.

They have a good variety of choices including this Spicy Chorizo as well as classics like the Margherita.

Lastly, we got to sample some of their pastas, including this meat ravioli and risotto.

Overall, a great new addition to Richmond’s vast choices of restaurants. Perfect to stop by after a day of shopping at the outlet. BiBo’s owners also announced that they will be opening its third location in the Olympic Village district this summer!

In celebration of the grand opening, BiBo is offering promotions at its new Richmond location only. This includes discounts on all bottles of Italian wines exclusive to the restaurant every Tuesday and Wednesday. As well, there is a special Pizza and Beer for $18 every Monday until May 30, 2016.

BiBo Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bufala – Dine Out Vancouver 2016

For my last Dine Out Vancouver Festival of 2016, I checked out Bufala in Kerrisdale with MH and MW. They offered a lunch menu for $20 for two courses or $25 for three courses. Since the lunch price is cheaper than dinner for the same menu items, it was a better deal to visit at lunch.

They didn’t take reservations for Dine Out, but the restaurant wasn’t super busy on a Saturday, so we got a seat right away.

We were able to order off their regular menu during the festival as well. However, their dine out menu pizzas ranged from $14-17 anyways, so the dine out menu was a pretty good deal. We ended up being able to try all their dine out menu items since we had three people.

They don’t use a wood oven here, but they still make the pizzas fresh. Love the fun and bright decor in here.

Beef Carpaccio

The first appetizer was the Beef Carpaccio which were topped with fennel and salted kohlrabi, a type of turnip cabbage. It was also drizzled with an anchovy and black olive aioli. I found it slightly on the saltier side and the beef stuck together a lot for some reason. It was alright.

Meatballs

Their famous Meatballs were my favourite appetizer. It came with ricotta cheese, basil leaves, and some bread to soak up the tasty homemade tomato sauce. These were large meatballs but very moist! The sauce was also very flavourful with the right amount of acidity.

Kale Caesar Salad

The Kale Caesar Salad was also very delicious with the green and purple kale seasoned with anchovy and topped with Parmigiano Reggiano. It was also topped with a couple of slices of crispy bacon and a salt-cured egg yolk. The kale was fresh and crispy and I loved the use of the egg yolk.

Before our pizzas arrived, the server brought us three oils to use along with our pizza. This included the herb, parm, and chili oil. We were told to drizzle some on our plate and dip our pizza into it rather than drizzling straight onto our pizza. However, we found that the oils were not very strong in flavour. The herb oil was the only one that we could really taste the rosemary. I ended up eating the pizza on its own since it was already very flavourful.

Margherita Pizza

The first pizza we had was the classic Margherita Pizza. A beautiful marinara sauce topped with basil and fior di latte. Fior di latte is made of cow’s milk rather than water buffalo which is more costly. However, the mozzarella was still extremely stringy and I enjoyed the cheese very much.

Pesto & Ricotta Pizza Basil Pesto

Next up was the Pesto & Ricotta Pizza Basil Pesto of which we added an additional $5 to add prosciutto. In addition, the pizza was topped with fresh ricotta, pine nuts, Grana Padano cheese, and pesto. Loved the flavours of this pizza and I think the salty prosciutto really added flavour to it.

Finocchiona

The last pizza was the Finocchiona. This had a marinara sauce with fennel sausage, Castelvetrano olives, carmelized onions, provolone cheese and basil leaves. This is perfect for those who are meat lovers.

Classic Affogato

The Classic Affogato featured a vanilla bean gelato soaked in a single origin espresso. You can never go wrong with an affogato for dessert!

Salted Caramel Budino

I tried the Salted Caramel Budino which came in a jar. This was topped with a vanilla bean Mascarpone cream and Maldon sea salt. The budino was smooth and not overly sweet.

Overall, we were quite pleased with Bufala. The pizzas are thin crusted, fluffy, and crispy. Large portions and their meatballs and kale salad are delicious! Service was pretty friendly with our server extremely proud of the dishes.

Pros:
– Great pizza dough and flavours
– Meatballs and Caesar Kale Salad are flavourful

Cons:
– Some of their gourmet pizzas are a bit pricey on the regular menu

Price Range: $25/person for DOVF lunch menu

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 4 Service: 3.5 Ambiance: 3.5 Parking: 3 Overall: 4

Bufala Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bella Gelateria (Yaletown)

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Bella Gelateria is my all time favourite for gelato, and I was excited when they opened their second location in Yaletown. It’s right by the water, so it’s quite nice on a summer evening. K and I decided to go there on the first day it opened, but ended up going pretty late. We were shocked to see a huge line up, but later realized the line was for gelato only. Phew! So we quickly got seated outside and our server was beyond knowledgeable. She was able to explain the menu thoroughly and gave us her personal favourite suggestions.

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The indoors is brightly lit with white decor. At the back, you can see the pizza chefs making the Neapolitan pizzas – which are one of their main features. Apparently, it only takes 90 seconds to bake the pizzas since the oven is very hot.

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They also have a showcase of desserts. There are ice cream sandwiches that another company sells here, some ice cream macarons, and the famous gelatinis! A very pretty display! There are also baked good in the morning for the brunch menu.

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Margherita – San Marzano (D.O.P.*) tomatoes, fior di latte, parmigiano-reggiano, EVOO, & fresh basil

The menu is quite pricey at Bella Gelateria, with our Margherita pizza being $12. It’s extremely thin, so one person could easily finish it. They use San Marzano Tomatoes (Protected Designation of Origin) which are plum tomatoes. The menu claims they are considered to be the best paste tomatoes in the world. I could definitely taste the acidity and freshness of the tomatoes. The parmigiano is aged for 36 months, rather than the typical 12 months and EVOO stands for Italian extra virgin olive oil. They definitely use the top ingredients. However, we were slightly disappointed that our pizzas didn’t come sizzling hot. When we told our server, she explained that they are made to order, so shouldn’t be. Not sure why ours was sort of cold, but she said she would let management know.

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Matcha Smash Gelatini

We couldn’t come to opening night without giving their gelatini a try. The Gelatini is something owner, James, invented, which is martini + gelato. Our server described it as sort of like an island, with the gelato being the island, and the martini being the ocean. We went for the Matcha Smash, which combined matcha powder with vodka and a tcouh of herbal Chartreuse. It was topped with a bit of lemon juice and a slice of lemon peel. Honestly, I thought it was really boozy! And our server said there was one that was way stronger. The vodka was almost too strong for me. I had to take a scoop of gelato before drinking the liquid to balance it off.

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The Wonka Coppetta

We also wanted to try their other desserts, so we got The Wonka Coppetta. Coppetta really just means a cup in Italian. The Wonka had Tahitan vanilla gelato, and was topped with a blueberry orange compote and a chocolate drizzle. I liked the balance of sweet and sourt from the blueberries. However, it’s quite pricey – coming at a price of $8. Would I get it again? Probably not. It reminded me of a sundae with fruits and chocolate sauce.

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If you go into the restaurant, you can see the kitchen where they make the gelatos. James is  here as well!

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I love how they incorporated the famous gelato truck inside. If you want gelato after your dinner, you can simply skip the line and order your gelato. I like how they’ve made the line begin outside the restaurant, so it doesn’t disturb the diners. Therefore, the line may look longer than it really is. To be honest, the lines at their original location are even longer since they start inside! Overall, I thought the pizza was mediocre. The gelatinis are interesting, but a little too boozy for myself personally. I’d love to give some of their other desserts a try. Still my favourite spot for gelato though! Now I have another location to visit if I want some of Bella’s gelato!

Bella Gelateria on Urbanspoon

Mercante

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Alla Salsiccia – chorizo, tomato, basil, oregano and mozzarella

Ever since coming back from exchange, I’ve noticed a new building at UBC when I drive towards the Henry Angus Building. My friends later told me that the building was called Ponderosa Commons. So when we had a final exam and were looking for a place to study and grab a quick snack, my friends suggested we go to Mercante. It’s a new Italian cafe and they offer a large selection of pastas, salads, pizzas, and soups. Their pizzas are also made ready to order and are baked in a stone oven. We chose the Alla Salsiccia, which was topped with tons of chorizo, tomatoes, basil, oregano and mozzarella. The dough was light and fluffy and they didn’t cheap out on the ingredients.

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Al Pesto – pesto, pancetta, zucchini, basil, mozzarella, and roasted artichokes

We also shared the Al Pesto, which had a pesto base, lots of pancetta, zucchini, basil, mozzarella and roasted artichokes. This was my favourite out of the two. I loved the addition of zucchinis in it! It felt healthy and again there was an abundant of ingredients.

Very affordable food as well, with most pizzas priced at no more than $10. Other than great food, they also have a really hip area for you to eat if you choose to dine in. I love the wooden tables and benches and the outdoor sunlight they rely on. Many students study here too. We then discovered that they had 3 study rooms! It seemed like you didn’t need to book them in advance and it was more like a first come first serve. Extremely nice rooms to study in, and the rooms are completely sound proof. I wish I discovered this spot earlier, but for anyone looking for a chill place to study at UBC, here’s another one!

Mercante on Urbanspoon

Sports Bar Italian Food – Barcelona

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Exchange was wrapping up and many of my newly made friends from all over the world had made traveling plans. We soon realized that although we would still be somewhere in Europe, it would be our last time seeing each other. Well until we meet again somewhere in the world! We quickly organized a dinner with some of our closest friends, and T suggested we go to Sports Bar Italian Food. I was skeptical at first when I saw the outside, but it’s actually rated very well on Tripadvisor and didn’t fail to impress us! The atmosphere is friendly and not exactly like a sports bar, although they have TVs to watch sports on. It’s Italian owned, and the owner was super friendly and funny.

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They have a pizza oven just like how they do it Naples, except this one is shaped as a soccer ball! How cute!

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We had taken a look at the menu and knew we wanted some pizzas and pastas to share, but were indecisive about which ones to get. The owner came by and basically asked if it would be okay for him to just pick and choose customized items for us and it would be enough to get us filled. He came back with these pizzas that basically had 4 different sections of toppings. This was pretty good since we were able to try a bunch of different flavours! Since there were only around two slices for each flavour, we weren’t able to try them all. Some of the toppings were eggplant, zucchini, prosciutto, and mushrooms. The pizza was fluffy and I liked how it was pretty thin. Not exactly thin crust, but I liked this thickness.

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He also made one that was all the same toppings. This one had a red cabbage, some pork and filled with tons of cheese. I’ve never had red cabbage on my pizza before, but it actually tasted really good! Love how it was really cheesy.

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Then for pastas, we had the Seafood Spaghetti. The spaghetti was very thick, but it was cooked to al dente, so had a great chew to it. I know that true Italian pastas normally don’t have loads of sauce on it, but I wished this one had a little more sauce. I found it a little bland. There was an abundant of seafood though, including clams, squid and shrimp.

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My favourite was the Mushroom Ravioli. It was very saucy and creamy with loads of mushroom. The flavour of the sauce really made the dish good. The pasta was also very fresh and each ravioli was stuffed with a good amount of cheese.

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Some of our friends wanted to try the Rigatoni, since the pasta are shaped with large hollow holes so it’s sort of like a tube. I find that this type of pasta needs a lot of sauce or else it tastes like you’re just eating dough. This dish did have more sauce than the spaghetti, but could still use a bit more. It was a tomato base with Parmesan at the top.

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For dessert, we shared two desserts. First we got the Homemade Tiramisu. It didn’t look any good, but it tasted amazing! Tons of mascarpone cheese and a hint of alcohol. Cream and topped with chocolate powder. Everyone enjoyed it!

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He also suggested that we try this Italian Donut dessert. It was filled with cream and topped with chocolate sauce. It was quite sweet, so sharing this was a good idea. Not bad!

All in all, Sports Bar Italian Food had some pretty good Italian dishes. I thought the pastas were just average, but the pizzas were definitely really good! People even say it compares to the ones in Naples! I really liked how they were able to customize our pizzas and really helped with our orders. Service was really good and prices are quite reasonable. There weren’t too many people in the restaurant, so we were able to just stay and chat for a long time.