Lina’s has long been a standout Italian market in Calgary. The problem is the flagship store on Centre Street North is sufficiently removed from my regular city travel routes to fall off my radar.
That is until a third Calgary outlet, Lina’s Italian Mercato, opened in the Britannia neighbourhood, around the corner from my sister’s place. It’s a modern space with all the gleaming equipment and provisions you’d expect in an upscale Italian market.
But my great discovery was all the delicious fresh and prepared meals you can order, mostly at fantastic prices. Indeed, with a few more visits, it could well become one of my top cheap-eats places in all of Calgary.
How cheap? Consider my first purchase: an eight-inch wild boar bacon, mozza and marinara pizza for only $8. Four thin-crust, slightly spicy slices, nicely blistered after a few minutes in the big, domed oven.
It’s a perfect size for lunch, one of a dozen pizza ensembles on offer, including a breakfast version with a fried egg on top.
My second purchase was an even better steal-of-a-deal: a humungous, made-to-order breakfast sandwich with scrambled egg, porchetta and provolone cheese for only $6. Honestly, it could have satisfied two modest appetites, weighing in at perhaps a pound—though I certainly wasn’t waiting to get home, and put it on the scale, before devouring it.
My third purchase, a slow-roasted Italian porchetta ($10), was a little fatty and the accompanying veggies from a warming tray. It was a reminder that, whenever possible, it’s best to go for made-to-order dishes; they’re fresher and hotter.
But overall, I defy you to find this quality of food at these prices, especially in such a fashionable neighbourhood.
Lina’s Italian Mercato
5108 Elbow Drive SW, Calgary
Daily 10 am-7 pm