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Bites: Feel good about sipping your way through Negroni week and savour the boffo fare at Buffo

Negroni week is underway

Gin fans and classic cocktail enthusiasts, this is the week for you.

Returning for another round, Negroni week is back for a 6th year with bartenders around the globe pouring the three-ingredient cocktail for a good cause.

For this one week, local bars and restaurants are offering up classic versions or their own concoctions of the Campari-gin-vermouth drink while raising money for charity. For each Negroni sold, $1 (or more) will be donated by the venue to the charity of their choice.

In Calgary, more than 70 spots across the city are participating, from Anejo to Untitled Champagne Bar. (Find a full list of participating venues at negroniweek.com.)

Opt for a classic made from equal parts of the three liquors or explore some of the distinct offerings getting stirred or shaken up, such as Anju’s version with soju and the traditional Korean alcohol, Makkoli or Proof, which has added a strawberry shrub (as in, a simple syrup infused with berries and spiked with vinegar, not the actual plant) to the mix.

Negroni Week is on until June 10th, so plan accordingly to ensure you’re helping charities by sipping on some great cocktails.

Buffo is boffo

If shopping makes you peckish — or if you’re just looking for a new Italian spot to check out — the new restaurant attached to the Saks Fifth Avenue is now open, serving up pizza, pasta and prosciutto (and more).

Buffo is the latest addition to the Oliver and Bonacini Hospitality group, which also owns The Guild, Hudson and Sub Rosa here in Calgary. Ryan O’Flynn, the executive chef at The Guild, is now heading up the food programs for all the establishments, while Michele Nop — most recently of Foreign Concept — leads the kitchen at the Italian-themed Buffo.

Start with the classics, plates of mortadella sprinkled with pistachios or thin slices of pink prosciutto topped with olives and hazelnuts and a plate of the golden yellow saffron arancini, before picking out a few pastas and pizzas to share. (Also, order some of Buffo’s bread, a crisply crusted carb sphere, aromatic with rosemary and sprinkled with sea salt.)

Pizzas are cooked in a wood-fired oven in the kitchen that is open to the main room of the restaurant. The classic Margherita is excellent, but the star of the show is the signature Buffo. Hand-stretched dough is topped with passata and Parmigiano-Reggiano before being slid into the oven. Once cooked, the pizza is crowned with a whole ball of burrata and sent to the table where diners use a knife to cut into the tender cheese and spread it over the still hot pizza.

With a glass of rose bubbles, it’s perfection.

Buffo is open for lunch and dinner, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 11 to 11 on Thursday through Saturday, and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The restaurant does have its own entrance on the west side of the mall, right next to the Saks main doors, to ensure diners have a way in and out — even after late-night snacks.

(Photo courtesy Gwendolyn Richards.)

Gwendolyn Richards is a Calgary-based food and travel writer and the author of Pucker: A Cookbook for Citrus Lovers. Her work can be found in Avenue magazine, the Calgary Herald and on Food Network Canada. She has yet to meet a Negroni that she doesn’t like.

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