Like an old friend, this unassuming place located just east of Chinook Centre has been offering comfort food to Calgarians for a long time. You can ... More
Il Centro Foods & Ice Cream
Like an old friend, this unassuming place located just east of Chinook Centre has been offering comfort food to Calgarians for a long time. You can get a cornucopia of fresh food items here as well as fast food, meats from the deli and an array of cheeses and fresh salads. And you can order homemade ice cream and gelato while you await your food order. Il Centro offers pizza, lasagna and spaghetti as well as great deli meats that they're happy to wrap for you to take home.
The short version: awful service. Hot, stuffy restaurant with zero ventilation. Rude waitress. Excellent pizza. Get take out.
The long version: It's hard to describe what an awful dining experience I had at this restaurant. We were there for a family event, at a table of six. Three of us showed up and were seated at a table. For 15 minutes we sat there, in the very stifling heat (hot ovens, no windows opened), watching as the waitress and two waiters passed by us again and again, ignoring us. We watched as people who arrived after we did get near-immediate service. I can only assume that we were ignored because it was clear the other members of our party weren't there yet. But why not take our drink orders at the very least? Or get an appetizer started? When our friends showed up, we waited for another five minutes, and were still being ignored by the staff.
I eventually got the attention of the waitress and asked her if we could get her to take our order because we hadn't been served yet - she literally sneered at me. I've never experienced anything like that in my life at a restaurant. I simply wanted to get some drinks and order an appetizer, and she abruptly informed the table that the kitchen was "crazy" and we had to order all of our food at once. That made for a slightly uncomfortable feeling as we quickly had to decide what we wanted to order.
Our drinks came in a few minutes. Who serves a can of cold pop without ice in the glass? Il Centro does. Then our Calamari came - and they brought two orders instead of one. The waitress knew we only ordered one, but she asked us if it was OK that we had two orders - after we had already started eating from both plates (I thought they just split up one order on two plates). What was I supposed to say at that point? The Calamari was very good, I'll say that much, but at any other restaurant they would have recognized it was their mistake and only charged us for one. Not at Il Centro.
Our food eventually came, and the pizza was very good - probably some of the best I've ever had outside of Rome. But the events leading up to that first bite of pizza were so irritating it was hard to fully enjoy the food. The waitress never returned to ask us if we wanted anything else, or how the food was. As we were nearing the end of the meal one of our party flagged down a waiter (since our waitress was ignoring us) and asked for another beer for himself and someone else at our table. 15 minutes passed, we had finished eating, and those drinks never came.
We waited another 20 minutes or so, and our waitress never came to clear the plates or ask us if we wanted anything else (coffee, dessert, etc.). The heat inside the restaurant was awful. I caught her on the way back from another table and asked for the bill. She came back with it, we paid, and we left. I didn't leave a tip - if I could have left a negative tip, I would have. It takes truly awful service for me to not leave a tip, but this experience more than qualified.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this one other point: there were a lot of Italian-looking people at the restaurant. I took that as a good sign that the food was authentic. As the evening wore on, I couldn't help but notice the attention lavished on the people who looked to be of Italian descent - their tables got multiple visits throughout their meal, they were served immediately, and many were greeting with enthusiastic hand-shakes at the door. Everyone else, us included, were treated like we were intruders at a family gathering. Il Centro has many regulars it seems, but I'm certainly not going to be one of them.
Maybe if you're Italian you'll have had a completely different dining experience and enjoy this restaurant, but I'll never go back there again.