NineBorgo - Calgary

Scan the back of the room for the man with the intense expression on his face. That’s Giuseppe Di Gennaro, Calgary’s don of Italian fine dining, until recently at the resolutely soigné Capo (second on this list in 2006). Borgo, by comparison, is a workhorse of a restaurant. It hustles from day to dark with the clatter of espresso cups and shared plates of the cuisine’s greatest hits – golden arancini, imported salumi, crudi and cicchetti – and through it all, someone on staff tweets what guests are eating. It’s new generation yet old-fashioned enough to be a classic. To wit, service is carried out by young manscaped waiters alongside white-haired career servers who have perfected the art of teasing customers. (“Can I have another glass of Il Bacialè, please?” “Maybe you can, maybe you can’t.”)

Left: Orecchiette with smoked bacon, broccoletti and roasted garlic