“This hidden little gem in Airdrie served up fantastic food. The service was very good and
Sal came to our table and greeted us! Nice touch. Cozy relaxed atmosphere, and soft
music. My Manicotti was the best pasta I have ever had.”
~ TripAdvisor reviewer tlc2011
Turns out two long time chefs Rakesh Roshan and Escoffier Nick (Jimmy )had dinner at Ilforno a few months back and loved the experience so much they approached Sal and Anna Marie Monna about a partnership.
The timing was great and now Sal and Anna Marie can relax a bit more as Jimmy and Rakish join in the kitchen keeping Anna Marie’s Italian recipes intact while complimenting the menu with some new flavours.
The boys have a long resume of experience on cruise ships and even restaurants in Italy and Sal, being very particular about his longtime customers having the same high standard of service and traditional dishes, is very happy with how the partnership is working.
Watch for a new menu in the spring with all your favourite Ilforno dishes and few new tastes from the new team members.
My wife and I have been feeding Albertans for over 35 years.
We came from Campania, in the south of Italy. My brothers moved to Alberta. My aunt and uncle were here. So we decided to move here, too.
I was a bricklayer by trade. My wife, Anna Maria, cooked for the family. But she was never a chef.
We never had any experience in the restaurant business! So how did we end up as owners?
In 1981, I built a restaurant at Willow Park Village in Calgary. It was very small — only 35 seats.
We were just going to re-sell it to some people looking to start a business.
Then my wife and I decided to keep it. It was almost a joke.
I’ll tell you what. When you have a big family, it feels like a restaurant when you get together.
Anna Maria started cooking like she cooked at home. We did it the old fashioned way.
The idea was that if anyone came to eat, it’s like they were invited into our house.
That’s the way we started.
The way we feed you, the way we treat you — these are the most important things. You come to the restaurant and feel like you’re part of our family.
“The moment we walked up the stairs and through the door we were absolutely amazed. We felt like we just walked into little Italy.”
~ Google reviewer A Bradley
“Out of the way, but all the good ones are.”
~ TripAdvisor reviewer Dan G
I like to be in a small community, where everybody knows everybody.
But we had to try three different spots before we found the right space.
Now our current location is on Kingsview Boulevard. And it’s a perfect match.
See, in Italy the best authentic restaurants are off the beaten path. You have to ask someone how to get there.
When I found this place in 2008, it was just an empty bay.
I went back to my days in construction and built a new restaurant from scratch.
It’s really great because out on Kingsview we don’t have a big mortgage or rent on our backs.
So we’re not passing on any extra cost to you.
We can offer a reasonable price for real, fresh Italian food, so everyone can enjoy it.
My repeat customers started calling us “a treasure to find”. I mean, you have to search for us a little!
It’s that authentic experience. Tucked away, off the main drag. It doesn’t look like much from outside.
Then you come upstairs, and you’re going to be shocked at how beautiful it is.
And when you sit down and start to eat…
“The meatballs are homemade and to die for!!!!”
~ TripAdvisor reviewer Ross M
“The best restaurant in Airdrie. Authentic Italian food made by Italians.”
~ TripAdvisor reviewer Janet B
Every morning I shop and buy the ingredients we need that day. Everything is 100% fresh.
Cooking, you have to love it to start with. After 36 years in this business, either I’m crazy or I love it.
My wife is the same way.
She’s a creator. The kind of lady who can make a dish from dry leaves.
Anna Maria came from a poor family. And when you come from poverty, you have to make the food without spending a lot of money.
In Italy, for groceries, you go around to every place and collect a lot of stuff. You take what grows there, and you make sure it comes out to the most beautiful dishes!
Now we bring the same experience to Airdrie.
~ Google reviewer Julie Steffler
You come as a customer, but you leave as a friend. And you say “I’m going to bring back more friends next time”.
I know that going out for dinner is not just to eat food and then go home. It’s for the whole ambience. To go out. To be entertained. To relax and spend your time and enjoy every bite.
The restaurant business is like going to a wedding:
Brand new suit. Brand new tie. And brand new shoes. New everything. That’s the same thing with us. Every single morning we show up like it’s the first day.
For over 40 years, my wife and I are still together. We work side by side, we see each other 24 hours a day.
She’s still cooking the same amazing food like when we started!
I’ll tell you something. Some of our friends came back to Airdrie after visiting Italy. They liked the wines a lot more over there. They really enjoy Italian wine.
But they said “Sal, your food is way way better than some of the places we ate in Italy.”
That’s what makes me proud.
~ Sal Monna