Huge menus, littered with page after page of mediocre, bland, uninspired choices catering to the most vanilla of consumers’ appetites- this is dining in Edmonton.
Or is it?
A former government worker, Battista is owner, supply driver, cashier, cook, cleaner, and server all in one at Battistas Calzone Company*. He knows his key to success is not in offering a hundred so-so dishes, but rather focusing on making a few items, and making them exceptional.
Quality trumps quantity.
I recently rolled in (cause that’s what round people do) just after 1pm on a Thursday and the place was rocking. There were but a couple empty seats in the place and the patio was full. You could see Battista was up to his eyeballs in orders, but it was obvious that he enjoys what he does.
I placed my order for a spicy italian calzone, helped myself to a drink, and sat to catch up on some tweets. (@baconhound) <— *shameless plug*.
I have had calzones before I tried the ones at Battistas, and I was never that impressed. “Let me get this straight, its like pizza, except it has less toppings and a big, dry, awful ring of enedible dough around the whole outer edge. Uh, nice try Big Fella, but no sale.”
In looking around the place, my mind keeps coming back to the same idea…. that this is exactly how to run a small eatery.
Make a simple, fresh product that you can produce inexpensively, and quickly.
Far better to be known as THE place to go for something specific and terrific, than just another average place that you can get a so-so anything.
Quick, what’s a good place to get a hot dog? I bet 90% of you just said Fat Franks. Even though there are surely dozens of places in Edmonton you can get a decent dog. Why? Because it’s what they are known for. How can you possibly be “famous” for anything if you serve a hundred different things?
Which brings us back to Battistas Calzone Company. This place is small, about 20 seats small. The staff count is 1- Battista. The feel of the place is very much of a friendly place to hang out and socialize.
The menu is almost as tight as the staffing. You have 4 calzones to choose from. The Classico, spicy italian, mama mia meatball, and vegetarian. My favorites are the spicy italian and the meatball. Tender, delicious meatballs in a homemade marinara sauce and baked with cheese until it oozes out the corners. And here is the real kicker, the dough is, well, great!
Finally a calzone that you can eat 100% of and not have to throw away the dry, crusty edges that have no sauce or cheese on it. As a bonus, you get a side of tomato sauce for dipping.
So simple. So good.
Perhaps as much as the delicious calzones, Battistas is known for the hospitality and friendliness shown by the man himself. Clearly a people person, he obviously feels like his customers are friends.
That type of feeling breeds a lot of loyalty.
I love to feel that I’m supporting a good person, and a good business that invests in its own neighborhood.
And I always feel good about supporting this local find (especially if “supporting” means filling my belly with a tasty calzone)
Have you been to Battistas? Or are you planning to check it out? Feel free to share your own experiences below.