The Italian Centre Shop Calgary is a 13,000 square foot foodie heaven and it is within a 5 minute drive from my house. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard this friendly Edmonton family had decided to expand their Italian/European market into Calgary, but here we are about a year later and this treasure trove of all things good is now open!
I had a chance to sneak a bit of a peek about a month ago when my daughter went for an interview at the job fair. While waiting, I met store manager Gino Marghella who immediately welcomed me like family and gave me a quick tour of each section within the market. The tiles were just barely in so it was difficult to imagine what it would be like…so when I walked in on friends and family night and saw this ‘Cathedral of Cheese’ I was completely floored. This is only a section of the 13’ high and 40’ wide cheese wall, after I counted there were actually 35 wheels of Parmesan and 80 wheels in total. After I had recovered from the cheese wall, I spent a lot of time studying the grocery aisles beginning with the dried legumes. They covered almost an entire row and then there was the canned legumes…my daughter is going to have a fun time checking this section out! I haven’t always been able to find San Marzano tomatoes here in Calgary but now I have a steady supply, multiple brands to choose from, and all at a really decent price. This is half of the brands available. You can get them with or without basil added. Besides the legumes and tomatoes, the grocery aisles contain some really great European products that aren’t always easy to find such as cuttlefish ink, nettle syrup, 3 kg sized tubs of Nutella, regular and gluten free pastas (made with alternate grains), chocolates and sweets, and really great Rio Mare canned tuna. There’s a freezer section filled with many kinds of ravioli, frozen rabbits, and sauces. I spotted these bags of already pitted frozen sour cherries which I know will come in handy for pie making.
What I really liked was that the Italian Centre Shop tries to carry as many local products as they can. In addition to the great European products, they carry Fiasco Gelato and Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. frozen pizzas. My foodie date, Danna, said that their frozen pizzas are really delicious.
Once I had gone through all the grocery aisles I ended up at the bakery which probably was a big mistake…everything looked so good! You can take away or order anything from tiramisu to mille feuille, lemon tarts, and nutella croissants. If that wasn’t enough sweets for you, the next counter contains a delicious array of tasty gelato and a professional espresso bar. The head barista was brought in from Italy specifically to train the staff using Kimbo espresso. Hubby is really excited because he drives by the Italian Centre Shop is on his way to work. The espresso bar is open at 7:30 am so he can get his morning coffee and I’m excited because I can get him to pick up pizzas on the way home!
Speaking of pizzas, the Italian Centre Shop pizzas were voted the number one pizzas in Edmonton so I am really looking forward to trying one. In addition to take away pizzas, there is a prepared food section along with other take home meals like lasagna and meatballs. During the event I tried these delicious mozzarella arancini in sauce. While I was talking to the server, another lady took an arancini and that was how I met Teresa Spinelli, daughter of Frank Spinelli who co-founded the Italian Centre Shop in Edmonton in 1959. She is a friendly lady who values her customers and community as family. The Italian Centre is a very active supporter of community in Edmonton and they intend to carry on this tradition in Calgary. As a start, ten percent of all the ‘Friends and family’ night sales was given to local Calgary charity Brown Bagging For Calgary’s Kids. “The more you give, the more you get back” was an all important philosophy that Frank instilled upon his children and Teresa lives by it to this day.
There is a large middle deli section that makes up the core of Italian Centre Shop. There you will find all kinds of imported and local cheeses and deli meats. They carry well priced grass fed, anti-biotic and hormone free Piedmontese beef raised in Lacombe by Messinger Meats. They also carry local elk, bison, and pork as well as Prairie Roots organic chicken from Bittern Lake. I am not much of an olive connoisseur but I was impressed with the gorgeous olive bar and I even found a ‘beginner olive’ to bring home. They are the round green olives at the bottom right of the photo, beside the grilled red peppers.
Last, but not least there is a decent sized fresh produce section with local and imported fruits and vegetables. There were trays of delicious figs, BC cherries, fava beans, and peppers grown in Lacombe…just as a small example of what you can find there. And, if you have an event coming up, you can order fruit arrangements, deli trays, and caprese bites along with your canolli.
Welcome to Calgary Spinelli family, I’m so glad you chose Calgary as your new home!
Italian Centre Shop
9919 Fairmount Drive SE; Calgary