My first two attempts to eat at La Casa Pergola failed – both times I found the restaurant closed. Embarrassingly, it was because they were closed on Mondays. Yes, both attempts were on a Monday and yes, I forgot after the first mistake.
La Casa Pergola was recommended by many people when I first moved to Red Deer. Common among online reviews is the pricey nature and recommendation as a special occasion restaurant.
Tucked away in downtown Red Deer across from a large multi-storey parking lot, you will find this little gem.
Upon entering, you will be steered to the back of the restaurant – I believe the front is the lounge.
The restaurant definitely has a cozy feel – the stain glass installed at an angle on the ceiling/wall makes you forget that you’re on the first floor of a 2-storey building. The drapes across the ceiling and the chandelier along with the greens further convey elegance and the old european style. You definitely know that the decor is vintage.
Onto the meal!
Complimentary bread was served promptly with butter and olive oil/balsamic vinegar.
The bread was soft with a nice crispy crust. I favored the olive oil/balsamic vinegar dip and found myself chasing the dollop of balsamic vinegar to get the blast of flavor I so craved on the bread.
To start, we ordered the Calamari Fritte di Mare. It is basically deep fried calamari sprinkled with green onions and raw diced tomatoes.
Deep fried calamari is one of my favorite appetizers to order whenever I have the opportunity to eat in a greek restaurant. Although popular, often I find that restaurants tend to turn out limpy, oily calamari or worst yet, over-fried, dried out, hard pieces.
La Casa Pergola definitely made this dish shine. The batter was extremely light and airy while retaining a nice crispy exterior and moist interior. On top, it was packed with plenty of flavor – the salt was just right and really elevated the little fried pieces. I did find myself chasing some of the tomatoes as I grab each piece of calamari. However, I think it was because this meal was ordered during the winter season so despite the nice crunchy texture, the tomatoes lacked the sweetness that would have complimented the fried calamari. I did not touch the accompanied sour cream dip as it was a bit too savory. I prefer Tzatziki sauce because the acid tends to cut through the savoriness of the calamari. However, the calamari really stood out on its own and did not need any added sauce.
This was definitely my favorite dish of the evening.
Next came the Neopolitan Piccante Pizza. It is a homemade and hand-formed thin crust pizza topped with italian meats, red peppers, fresh tomato, and a blend of cheese.
When it was placed down on the table, the first thing that I noticed was the fresh diced tomato tossed across the pizza. It definitely gave some added texture to the gooey topping, but again, because it is winter, it didn’t impart the sweetness and juice that I was expecting.
One look at the irregular shape and you can tell it was definitely individually handmade and formed. It was crispy from edge to centre and the occasional air pocket gave it that extra light and crispy crunch. I love the dough as often, I find thin crust pizzas soggy near the center.
For the meats, all I could find were large pepperoni slices. They were crisped up and packed plenty of flavor and with the cheese made the pizza filling. I have to admit that the peppers did not add to the pizza and in fact, I forgot that they were present until I look over the menu to write this blog.
The final dish was the Special of the Night suggested by our waiter. There was no name, but he described it as a red sauce over penne with italian sausage and red pepper.
My first thought was how elegantly plated the dish was. There was a nice contrast in colors that seem to make you want to “jump in and get eating”. Luckily, I restrained myself long enough to capture a photo.
I picked the special because when I was looking at the menu, almost all the pastas were based on white sauces. I prefer a red sauce as the pasta typically tastes less heavy. As soon as the waiter mentioned red sauce, I knew that I had to have it.
The penne was cooked perfectly al dente (though I have to admit that I prefer my pasta passed al dente). The sausage slices were plenty and again like all the other meats of the night, held flavor. The red peppers were not overcooked and contributed a nice, fresh crunch to the pasta. The red sauce was sweet and carried a medium heat.
For the price and the decor, I can see why many people put this restaurant in the special occasion section. I would just drop by to order the calamari. It is that good!