Carino Japanese & Italian Kitchen: A Delightfully Unconventional Take on Fusion

“Fusion” is the catch-all description for any dish which takes its elements from two or more cultural cuisines. Whether it’s Tex Mex or a slice of pizza with juicy chunks of pineapple, most of us are familiar with the concept and that it can somewhat be a source of contention among restaurant goers. Whether you love or hate it, Carino Japanese & Italian kitchen is here to lend a great deal of credibility to the culinary concept – however bizarre their menu may seem at first glance.

Carino Japanese & Italian Kitchen: A Delightfully Unconventional Take on Fusion

The only Japanese and Italian fusion restaurant in Calgary, Carino proudly presents an elevated menu of fresh Italian dining with the quaint intimacy and deeply nuanced flavours of Japanese cuisine. The restaurant is in the heart of Mission, a prolific neighbourhood of old and new businesses which border 4th Street at a walkable distance from one another. With a handful of amazing restaurants to choose from, Carino is an excellent option for those special occasions that you’ll want to remember for years to come. There is little else to match the eclectic nature of both Carino’s menu and quaint interior. Every element works together to provide you with a night out that you won’t soon forget. Plus, there’s the added benefit of seeing the bewilderment on your friends’ faces when you tell them you’ve tried a pork gyoza dumpling with mozzarella cheese.

Carino likes to describe their fusion concept as elegant, approachable, and, most importantly, enjoyable by all. Although a reservation is recommended due to the intimate size of the dining room, the restaurant invites anyone in Calgary to pay a visit. Upon entering, you will be greeted by a host and led to one of the few tables with a charming view of 4th Street. From there, you might be surprised that your initial waiter or waitress will not be the only one serving you for the evening. To highlight the restaurant’s elegant but relaxed ambience, the style of service is much more casual. Any waiter who notices your empty glass will be happy to fill it up for you. Explained by the knowledgeable staff at Carino, this is a tenet of Japanese dining and one of the many Japanese culinary influences that define the restaurant’s atmosphere.
While Carino’s Japanese character shines through the ambience and service, its Italian side is noticed most often in the food and accented perfectly with a hint of Japanese influence. Between the “Carino” Caprese Salad and pasta made with a delicate Dashi Broth, each dish is an exciting demonstration of an elegant ability to marry these two unlikely culinary styles.

Carino Japanese & Italian Kitchen: A Delightfully Unconventional Take on Fusion

With a variety of dishes on the menu equally as intriguing, you’ll likely want to taste it all. While this might be impossible between only a few people, Carino, fortunately, offers smaller plates meant for sharing and sampling, so you may be able to get pretty far before calling it a night. Take the sushi tacos – if you don’t mind welcoming a third culinary inspiration to the plate – which come in 3, 5, or 7 ways. The idea of a sushi taco has been around for a while, but Carino manages to elevate and diversify this familiar concept. For example, the Smoked Yuzu and Cured Hamachi taco brings a welcome profile of deep and rich flavours while being the perfect size to entice the palate.

You will certainly want to save your appetite for the main event for which Carino offers a selection of dishes that equally embrace the concept of Japanese and Italian cuisine. For example, the Spicy “Wagyu Bolognese” Miso Ramen sounds like a culinary hodgepodge on paper, although the dish itself is anything but confusion. The delicate Wagyu is perfectly accented by the miso’s rich umami flavour and the dish ends up being a testament to the skills in Carino’s kitchen. And, for those seeking out vegetarian or pescatarian options, Carino offers a selection of enticing dishes including a Tagliatelle with Vegetable Ragù and Pan Seared Scallops.

An evening at Carino will leave you yearning to return. If the ambience and intimate dining concept isn’t enough to leave an impression, the balanced marriage between Japanese and Italian cuisine will be certain to win you over, although the combination may seem unconventional.


About Bailey Seyts 12 Articles
Bailey Storey is an Honours Bachelor of Arts Graduate from the University of Toronto, where she double majored in English and art history. Since completing her degree, she has worked as a freelance writer for various online publications throughout Toronto and Calgary, the latter being where she currently resides. While completing her final year at the University of Toronto, she was runner-up for the Lorne Tepperman Prize in Public Writing in response to her article on St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Red Deer, Alberta. Bailey has the most experience writing about the arts due to her academic background and hobbies – which include painting and screenwriting. Most recently, she is attending SAIT’s Film & Video Production program with intentions to extend her writing career into the entertainment industry.