A New Neighbourhood Pasta Joint Just Opened in Calgary
And it’s led by the same team that brought you Una Pizza and Frenchie Wine Bar.
It’s nice to see restaurateurs having fun, turning basements and back areas into wine bars and speakeasies, hiring small food producers to do prep or hosting pop-up restaurants in their spare kitchens or front-of-house spaces.
In recent years Una Pizza, a staple on 17th Avenue in Calgary, expanded to include Una Takeaway next door and Frenchie Wine Bar in the back. This fall, they opened Bread and Circus in between the two—a tiny, casual neighbourhood pasta joint inspired by the friendly trattorias of Rome.
The name—Bread and Circus—comes from a second-century satirical poem: “Two things only the people anxiously desire—bread and circuses” refers to the government controlling its population and votes with food and entertainment. They still find the phrase relevant almost two thousand years later; it’s a nod to Roman culture but still speaks to modern times, perhaps without the political slant.
At Bread and Circus the pasta is made in-house daily, the antipasti is seasonal and interesting—this fall, there’s confit baby pumpkin filled with barley risotto, fried leeks, browned butter and grana padano, or crushed olive potatoes with salt cod and a kalamata olive gremolata. There are a few equally intriguing salads, a half dozen pastas (spaghetti with lamb meatballs; oxtail rigatoni with red wine plumped raisins—at $22, it’s the priciest menu item) and a tiny dessert list. All wines are available by the glass, carafe or bottle, and both beers come from Italy. Many who come in start with an aperitivo—Americano, Aperol spritz or Prosecco—with a side of cacio e pepe popcorn to nibble.
It’s a wonderful space to hide out in, but doesn’t open until 5:30 p.m. Due to its size, they offer two seatings nightly for reservations (between 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. or anytime after 7:45 p.m), but they’ll hold 21 seats at their tables, bar and counter for walk-ins.
Bread and Circus
616 17th Avenue SW, Calgary