We are spoiled in Vancouver with some of the finest Italian fare this side of the Via Tevere. And pasta offerings, particularly, have been perfected. This is the best time of year to indulge in an innovative plate of homemade pasta. We’ve picked 5 of our favourites which proved difficult. Anything on any of these restaurant menus is worth a try but we wanted to provide you the perfect pasta edit – some filled, some short, some long – all exquisite.
This must be one of Vancouver’s tiniest restaurants but it certainly punches above its tiny size. Tucked away on the edge of Railtown, Ask for Luigi is a bustling favourite. Try their spaghetti nero, octupus and puttanesca dish – a divine combo of colour, texture and flavour…or try it at home (recipe here)!
Booked weeks in advance for a reason. Savio Volpe features some of the most innovative Italian creations in the city. Behind the fantastical 12 ‘ doors, this neighborhood Osteria serves delicious, rustic fare in an inviting, modern space. Try their rigatoni with beef braciola, meatball, pork riblet, Sunday sauce or – and we are cheating here – the Agnolotti, chicken & suckling pork, roasting juice, black pepper.
After you’ve scarfed down a few handfuls of Campagnolo’s Crispy Ceci (flash fried chickpeas tossed with chilies, mint and citrus), hopefully you’ll have some room for their lobster gnochetti made of Fraser Valley corn succotash, pecorino romano, savory herb (like thyme but pinier) – decadent and delicious!
Cinara offers a modern take on Northern Italian food in an intimate, elegant space just outside the more hip restaurant quarters of Gastown and Crosstown. Behind a Victorian facade at Richards and Pender, this modern bistro will not disappoint. The menu is small and changes frequently so we can’t promise you the exact pasta perfection we enjoyed but the passion and attention paid to each dish, assures you will be divinely sated. We had the tortellini, halibut, chilli, saffron brodo, salsa verde and the Rigatoni, Harmony Farm lamb ragu, garlic scape, luques olive – both complex and flavorful and highly memorable. Cinara’s sister newer sister restaurant, Autostrada, deserves an honourable mention here too.
This one is a real find. Unassuming yet proud, this family-run operation is on a small side street off a main drag (Marine Drive) in North Vancouver. The restaurant shares a kitchen with Bad Dog Bread Bakery in an unconventional yet simpatico arrangement given the bakery’s morning hours and Orto’s evenings. Most of the seating is in a beautiful urban garden and patio with grape vines overhead, a quince tree, fragrant herbs, and tomatoes all of which are used by the kitchen. The proprietor seats you and serves you. Her recipes are prepared with care in a large open kitchen. Though the menu is spare, it is all fresh, authentic and worth crossing the bridge for. We had the caserecce with house-made pork and fennel sausage, tomato and beet greens from the garden.
At all of these featured restaurants, the pasta is made fresh daily, in house. The results are sublime. If you fancy trying your hand at making pasta at home, consider taking a class at Palmer & Sons, Nourish, or Dirty Apron.
— BUON APPETITO! —