John Michael MacNeil is executive chef at Calgary’s illustrious Teatro Ristorante. Some big names have been at the helm before him including chef Michael Allemeier, but it is hard to argue that the place has ever been in better hands than it is now. He has no fear when it comes to trying inventive, new techniques, while the menu remains laced with dishes that have been favourites over the years. The wine list continues to keep pace with the world’s best, and the elegant, high-ceilinged room still manages to have an intimate feel for a discreet business meeting or a romantic night out, good either way. On a recent visit, Chef brought out a vermouth-compressed melon slice, with fresh sprigs of mint and Iberico ham. Amazing. Charcuterie, house-cured. A beef short rib saltimbocca and saffron chicken Alfredo are studies in balance with deep, focussed flavours. The beef tenderloin, dry-aged for 40 days, sets a high bar for anyone in Cowtown. A beautiful pickerel dish, the fish flown in from northern Manitoba, or the daily rotisserie, it all adds up to a dining experience hard to beat, in this city or any other.