Italia @ The River Cree Resort and Casino

River Cree Resort & Casino has debuted a new restaurant and I was invited to their media launch night for an opportunity to preview some of their dishes. Italia’s menu features a variety of Italian favourites with a modern twist. Long story short, I left feeling very satisfied with my meal and felt that everything from the food to the service was great!

Disclaimer: I was invited to River Cree Resort for a private media launch where my meal was compensated. Despite this, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sicilian Iced Tea (L) / Botanical Sangria (R)

With my boyfriend as my dinner date, we started the evening off with some cocktails. Both cocktails were actually really pleasant. The Sicilian Iced Tea ($12) was definitely my favourite between the two. It was a little sweet but the bourbon gave it a nice kick. The Botanical Sangria ($13) was extremely refreshing and tasty to start, but eventually became overpowered by all the mint. If you’re a mint lover, this cocktail would be the perfect choice. I should also note that I personally found it to be more similar to a mojito since I’ve always pictured sangrias to be fruitier.

For appetizers, we tried the Pan Seared Alaskan Scallops ($18) and the Crispy Fried Calamari ($16). I loved the scallops and would definitely get them again. Served over some risotto, the scallops were cooked so well. Upon talking to the executive chef, Mark, he explained that this scallop dish was one he personally curated and it’s followed his career journey internationally… so you can only assume that this dish has been really perfected! The calamari was accompanied by a cucumber yogurt dip which nicely balanced out the deep fried dish. Both appetizers were enjoyable but between the two, I definitely preferred the scallops more.

For the main dishes, we wanted to sample a few different items and eventually decided upon the Cauliflower and Mushroom Risotto ($19), Game Hen Parmesan ($29), and Grilled Sirloin ($34). My favourite dish of the night had to be the risotto which was just so creamy from the mascarpone and parmesan cheese. I’m also a big fan of anything with mushrooms and I found that this dish nicely incorporated all of these savoury flavours together.

The Game Hen Parmesan was essentially parmesan chicken, but presented in a unique and somewhat deconstructed way. I am normally not one to lean towards parmesan chicken so it was nice to see this dish presented differently. The chicken is brined for 24 hours and served over tomato sauce, mozzarella, gnocchi, and basil. While the chicken was tender and well seasoned, I actually thought the star of the dish was the gnocchi underneath. With mozza, basil, and tomato sauce, it made for a perfect bite! During my next visit, I will seriously consider ordering their gnocchi to try.

The Grilled Sirloin came on a bed of polenta. This was my first time trying polenta and I found that it had a really interesting texture. Taste-wise, it was quite plain and I would’ve been fine without any of it on the dish. It would be nice if there were alternative options for other sides as I was kind of wising I had something like mashed potatoes instead. The steak itself was well seasoned and cooked but I wouldn’t mind trying something else next time. Overall, I think it’s a great dish to try but I wouldn’t consider it to be the best dish on the menu.

Lemon Cheesecake Jar

Our meal was topped off with dessert. We chose the Lemon Cheesecake Jar ($8) which was SO GOOD. What really made this cheesecake jar so great, in my opinion, was the almond biscotti crumble. In contrast to the rich cheesecake, the crumble was the perfect salty crunch and the berry compote just topped it all off. Despite it being a “lemon” cheesecake, I didn’t find it to be too tarte or anything. Definitely don’t skip out on dessert!

Service here was also noteworthy and I felt very well taken care of. Despite it being a busy event, our server was very knowledgeable, provided great recommendations, and was keen to check up on us often. The atmosphere of the restaurant would be the perfect fit for a date night or special occasion.

All in all, I think Italia is a spot worth checking out, especially if you are already headed to the River Cree. You can find them inside the casino area, next to the Player’s Lounge. Thank you so much to Italia for having me!

Italia: A Taste of Italy
River Cree Resort & Casino
300 East Lapotac Blvd, Edmonton

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Foodie turned food blogger based in Edmonton, Canada

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