Tony Nicastro still remembers the beginning of his career as a restauranteur. “My Auntie looked at me at said ‘so you will start working this weekend?’ I was nine”. Tony’s Grandparents immigrated from Italy in the 1950s, later starting a tradition of authentic Italian cuisine in Calgary including Stomboli Inn. After working alongside his Nonna for years, Tony Nicastro is now the third-generation owner of the Calgary Institution, Villa Firenze, and the contemporary PZA Parlour.
Eateries in Fireside
The Fireside neighbourhood of Cochrane is the lucky new home of this family business, with Tony putting his own spin on the food and dining experience with his trio of eateries. Tony’s upbringing is clear in his ethos “I want to change the way restaurants do business. It’s not about making money first, it’s about creating a family, and a place where people can feel proud to work. A place to be part of something great”. The fresh pasta, handcrafted pizza dough (that takes three days to make), carefully curated wine list, and focus on food made from scratch are steeped in tradition.
Pronounced “Pizza”, expect to find Italian comfort food with a modern spin and a carefully curated wine list. Try favourites like fresh tomato bruschetta, creamy spinach fettuccine alfredo, or a margarita pizza on the crispy, light dough. For the more adventurous, the pizza menu features a lobster and roasted potato pizza (the PEI wedding) and a gorgonzola, mozzarella and pear (the Gio) pie. Everything is made from scratch, so PZA is the perfect place to linger, laugh, and enjoy your company while dining on sumptuous dishes.
The delight of Mezzo is its versatility. Enjoy an espresso (made with beans specially roasted for Mezzo) and house-made pastry. Stop by at lunch for a salad and pizza off the PZA menu. Satisfy a sweet tooth and with a scoop of gelato, or do ‘aperitive’ in the early evening, an Italian tradition of a drink and snack after work. A little secret at Mezzo? Tucked away in the corner is a small Italian market with ready-made meals. After a busy week grab a lasagna for a quick and delicious dinner.
The name of this neighbourhood pub is a homage to Tony’s grandfather, who earned the nickname “stump’ for his stubborn nature. The walls are covered in signed hockey jersey’s, many from Tony’s Dad’s personal collection. This adult-only spot is perfect for a beer with friends, to watch the game, or to have some delicious, freshly made pub food. Executive Chef Chris Galbraith tells us the burger is a must-try “it’s a hand-ground mixture of chuck and brisket, it’s always fresh, and it’s a good stick to your ribs. I’d be willing to drive to get this burger”.
Forge & Smoke/Blacksmith
The newest addition to Tony’s collection of restaurants in Cochrane is in Sunset Ridge. The new eatery includes Forge & Smoke – a family-friendly restaurant and Blacksmith – an adult-only lounge with a focus on smoked meats and a great pizza menu.
Guest Journalist – Callandra Caufield
Photography by Jacquie Matechuk