It was World Pasta Day last week and I had the pleasure of celebrating this delicious day with a pasta making class at Cioppino’s in Yaletown. Chef Pino Posteraro himself showed us how to make traditional fresh handmade pasta using modernized techniques. It was a delicious and mouthwatering afternoon of fresh, al dente pasta! Check out my video recap.
Last month, I had the pleasure of being a media judge for Vancouver Foodster’s Pasta Challenge. It was through the Pasta Challenge that I had come to know about Apero Kitchen, an chef-owned and operated restaurant in West Vancouver’s Ambleside neighbourhood. Apero’s menu specializes in Mediterranean flavours with a focus on Italian cuisine. On the menu are family-style pasta dishes like Penne Bolognese and Mushroom Ravioli as well as entrees like Blacked Salmon and Steak and Frites.
The interior of Apero exudes an old world Italian charm. Cozy and inviting, the restaurant ambiance makes it a great place for an intimate dining experience.
What We Tried
Disclosure: All the food in this review were complimentary. Opinions are my own.
My guest for the evening was Hanson of Nosh and Nibble. To start, we were offered complimentary bread and olive oil.
For the appetizer, we were given Fried Homemade Gnocchi with spicy tomato sauce. These were absolutely delicious and incredibly addictive. I loved how soft and pillowy the gnocchi were along with their nicely crisp exterior. The fried version is certainly a more unique take on gnocchi and I would love to have this again. I highly recommend this as an appetizer.
Next, I tried the Pasta Challenge participating dish from Apero Kitchen, the Rigatoni Vecchia Romagna. This featured rigatoni with garlic, braised radicchio tossed in a brandy cream sauce and topped with crispy prosciutto and parmigiano. The savory sauce was exquisite and I loved the crispy bits of prosciutto. The parmigiana was freshly shaved at tableside. The rigatoni was perfectly al dente. And for $20, I found the dish was very filling and satisfying.
Last but not least, a Tiramisu for dessert. Creamy, silken and rich, but not too sweet. Apero’s version was very good. The only thing I thought could be better was the texture as I found it to be a bit too soft. Flavour-wise, the dessert was on point.
Overall Impression of Apero Kitchen
I very much enjoyed the charming, warm and inviting atmosphere at Apero Kitchen. Owner and Chef Haymo Elzenbaumer is a delight and he enjoys meeting his guests. Based on the pasta dish I tried, I’d be interested in their pasta dishes. Be sure to get the Fried Homemade Gnocchi when you visit. You won’t be disappointed. Rating: 4/5
Address: 1735 Marine Dr, West Vancouver, BC
I’m a fan of Eater’s Dining on A Dime series on Youtube and it was there that I learned about Il Corvo in Seattle. Il Corvo is a humble eatery located in the Pioneer Square district and they serve handmade pasta for $10 at lunchtime on weekdays only. The restaurant is very community-oriented and believes that people should be able to enjoy high quality, handmade pasta at affordable prices. Known for their delicious pasta and budget-friendly menu, Il Corvo draws long lineups every service. After watching Lucas Peterson showcase Il Corvo, I had to try it myself. Check out the video below:
Note: This is not a sponsored post. This meal was not complimentary. I did not receive any compensation or incentive to share about my experience. The restaurant did not know that I am a blogger.
Line Up Before 11 Am
Last week, my family and I were on a spring break vacation in Seattle. I made it a point to have a light breakfast one morning and then head over to Il Corvo to line up before they opened at 11 am. We were first in line at 10:45 am but soon many people joined.
And by the way, if you’re first in line, the direction of the line should be facing downhill. The girl who came in behind me said that was how the line usually goes.
Il Corvo Etiquette
How it goes at Il Corvo is that you order at the counter, get a seat (either they direct you or you select), bus your own table and enjoy your food! The instructions are noted on their door.
The interior of Il Corvo is minimal and serves its purpose. The space is small and accommodates about 36 people; there is a mix of two and four-person dining tables and a larger communal table. Every seat is meant to be occupied so you might be sharing a table with others. The staff helps by directing people to sit at specific tables.
Il Corvo Menu
Il Corvo serves only three types of pasta each day which are noted on their chalkboard menu. Their also have antipasti dishes like house made focaccia, proscuitto & pickled celery, kale salad, olives and pickled vegetables. For drinks, they have wine including prosecco, and beer.
What We Tried
My husband and I tried the Cornetto with spring garlic cream and Bucatini al’Amatriciana with spicy pancetta and tomato sauce. Unfortunately, I forgot to order some antipasti to round out the meal. And when I realized it, it was too late; we had already been directed to a table and the line up was to the door.
Both pasta dishes were gloriously al dente – absolutely delicious! The sauces were flavourful but still light. I love white sauce and the spring garlic cream was just right. The bucatini had a nice amount of spiciness to eat to satisfy spicy lovers. both of the pastas were loaded with parmesan.
I know the pasta dishes were $10 but I wish they could charge more for a larger size. I certainly was wanting more of it because they were so tasty. Furthermore, the pasta dishes are very simply pasta with little or no other protein or seafood. Because of that, I would recommend the antipasti to round out the meal.
Why Weekday Lunch Only?
With the popularity of Il Corvo, some may ask why doesn’t the restaurant open for dinner and on weekends? According to the Il Corvo website, Chef-owner Mike Gaston had worked traditionally long hours in fast-paced restaurant environments. Hence, he conceived Il Corvo with a restaurant concept that would allow him to achieve a work-life balance.
I was impressed with Il Corvo’s commitment to serving a high quality pasta dish at an affordable price. I do wish they had more options like larger size bowls, but I guess that would change their restaurant model. Would I line up for it again? Yes, if I could be in the first seating after they open. But if I had to wait over an hour, I probably wouldn’t as the menu isn’t diverse enough for me to make it worthwhile. Rating: 4/5
It’s no secret that Ask for Luigi is one of the top, casual Italian eateries in Vancouver. This year, they are ranked in the top 50 of Canada’s best restaurants. And despite being located on the edge of Gastown in a less than tourist-friendly area, pasta lovers will gladly line up outside Ask for Luigi to await their chance to indulge in their fresh, handmada pasta. A while back, a few friends and I went to Ask for Luigi for a weekday lunch.
Ask for Luigi is a small restaurant which seats only about 32 people. The interior is very retro-inspired resembling a vintage recreation room with wood panels.
I love the large bright windows overlooking the quiet street.
What We Tried
Our group of four tried the following dishes for lunch:
- Porchetta, tonnato sauce and crispy artichokes
- Bread and e.v.o.o.
- Parmesan risotto, pancetta, cauliflower and pangrattato
- Sagne e pezzi, lamb sausage, chickpeas and kale
- Rigatoni and bolognese
- Fusilli puttanesca and albacore tuna confit
- Panna cotta with almond biscotti and plums
To start, the porchetta, tonnato sauce and crispy artichokes was quite a dreamy appetizer. The thin salty pork slices complimented the luscious, rich, creamy and “fishy” tonnato sauce and crispy artichokes. Outstanding.
Next we had four pasta dishes. As a risotto lover, the parmesan risotto, pancetta, cauliflower & pangrattato satisified my cravings. The texture was just perfect – thick, creamy and al-dente. Then there was the salty sweet pancetta, crunchy cauliflower and pangrattato. This dish got my lips smacking.
The Sagne e pezzi, lamb sausage, chickpeas and kale was another favourite of mine. The lamb sausage had a nice spicy kick to it. I quite enjoy chickpeas at home (a good source of protein!) so chickpeas with pasta is right with me.
The Rigatoni and bolognese was a tasty, hearty and meaty dish that had excellent flavours. That shaved Parmesan on top was heavenly.
The Fusilli puttanesca and albacore tuna confit was the least enjoyable because it tasty too fishy!
To finish off a fantastic meal, there was the panna cotta with almond biscotti and plums. The panna cotta had a silky, smooth texture that was just firm. The plum sauce was strong and some of us found it too tart.
Overall Impression of Ask for Luigi
The lunch at Ask for Luigi was fantastic and left me lingering for me. Delicious, fresh, hand-made pasta in a casual setting. I’m planning to visit them for brunch soon! Rating: 4.5/5
Since I started food blogging (seriously) two years ago, this blog has led me to on a wondrous and delicious journey. I love documenting my food adventures but aside from that meeting other like-minded and passionate food bloggers has been the most amazing. Yesterday, myself and three other food bloggers including Kristina (Drunken Noms), Hanson (Nosh and Nibble) and David (Picky Diner) got together for a early Monday night dinner. I see each of them at media events separately but we are never really at the same event together. Because of that, we decided to have a foodie get-together. Savio Volpe was the choice restaurant for our night out.
The Wise Fox
Located in Fraserhood (Kingsway and Fraser), Savio Volpe has been a much talked about Italian restaurant since it opened late last year. Savio Volpe means “wise fox” in Italian and this eatery is all about getting together and sharing simple yet delicious food. This restaurant is so popular that I couldn’t even get a 6 pm Monday night reservation via Open Table one week ahead of time. Fortunately, I was able to book the 5:45 pm time slot for our meetup. Furthermore, Savio Volpe is not that small of a restaurant as it can accommodate 90 seats. The fact that it is quite booked shows how foodies have fallen in love with the wise fox.
Savio Volpe is the creation of restaurateur Paul Grunberg of L’Abattoir who with his two business partners wanted to a neighbourhood tavern with a sophisticated and simple feel. The kitchen is led by Mark Perrier, head chef and co-owner, who is particularly proud of Savio Volpe’s hand-crafted pasta.
Very Inviting Atmosphere
As soon as I walked into the restaurant, I was greeting warmly by a staff member. Looking around, I was impressed with the interior design that included high ceilings, large windows, and light wood tones. There is an open kitchen with a wood burning oven and a central bar.
Much to my surprise, Savio Volpe is very kid-friendly! Our server told us that in the early evenings it is quite normal to see families with little ones eating at Savio Volpe. High-chairs are readily available at the restaurant. As a parent, it was really nice to a new restaurant that is so welcoming to families.
Celebrity Chef Sighting
During our visit, David (Picky Diner) spotted celebrity chef and owner of Anna Lena, Mike Robbins, at a neighbouring table. We took it as a good sign that even other top chefs came to enjoy the food at Savio Volpe.
What We Tried
Our meal consisted of the following:
- Ox tongue tonnato ($14)
- Bagna Cauda; hot anchovy & garlic bath ($17)
- Garlic bread “all’Americano” ($6)
- Meatballs, neck bone gravy ($14)
- Octopus, chickpeas, cherry tomato, spicy salami ($19)
- Mezzaluna, spinach & dandelion, wild onion ($18)
We chose an item from almost all the sections of the dinner menu. To start, we had individual drinks including wine, latte, and beer.
Our first appetizer was the ox tongue tonnato ($14) which is a slightly different take of the Italian classic Vitello Tonnato using cold, sliced veal. The acidity and salinity of the mayo is just perfect for the thin tongue slices. The mayo was wonderfully creamy and is made with tuna though the tuna flavour is just subtle and not overpowering.
Next up was the Bagna Cauda ($17), a very rustic Italian fondue-style dish with a hot anchovy and garlic bath for vegetables ($17). The dip was very hot, buttery and silky smooth. We received an assortment of vegetables and bread pieces. I found that the dip was absorbed best with the potato whereas it slid off with others.
The house-made garlic bread “all’Americano” ($6) came in an aluminium pouch much like in a grocery store. The thick bread slices were crispy on the edges but light and fluffy. My only criticism was that they had too much butter on the bread. It was very much soaked in butter.
The meatballs in neck bone gravy ($14) normally come as a trio but we were able to order one extra for our party of four. The meatballs were piping hot, moist and tender – very delicious and comforting.
The pine nuts in the meatballs provided a fun textural contrast.
The octopus, chickpeas, cherry tomato, spicy salami ($19) was a surprisingly delightful dish. The octopus was tender and chewy while the chickpeas were crunchy. I liked the crispiness of the spicy salami. One negative point, however, was that there was too much olive oil in this dish.
Last but not least was the mezzaluna with spinach, dandelion and wild onion ($18). The pasta was nicely smooth and silky though portions seemed a bit small for the price of $18.
Service was top-notch as we had a wonderfully patient server. She explained to us all the dishes and helped us to craft our meal. Our glasses were kept full and we even had our plates changed.
Overall Impression of Savio Volpe
I had a lovely time dining at Savio Volpe sharing several dishes with fellow food bloggers. Savio Volpe has a great neighbourhood vibe and their menu is designed to be shared among multiple people. Service was excellent thanks to having our friendly and patient server. Rating: 4.5/5
This week I have been taking over the West End Business Association’s Instagram account to feature some of the tastiest eats in the neighbourhood. One of the restaurant’s I visited was The Grotto, a newer eatery serving classic Italian-inspired eats.
Classic Italian Dishes
The Grotto opened late last year by restaurateur Fiona Grieve who also owns the Buckstop located at 833 Denman Street. The concept is similar to that of Buckstop – that is, a friendly neighbourhood atmosphere and an uncomplicated menu of Italian food and drinks. The location is a bid of an odd one being sub-street level; it is sort of a basement eatery.
On the menu is a selection of antipasti (arancini, pork belly, humboldt squid and more), pasta (gnocchi, ravioli, spaghetti and more) and pizza (prosciutto, margherita, funghi and more). All food are made in-house and from scratch by Chef Dan and his team. The drink list includes Italian spirits, beer on top, classic cocktails and sorbet martinis featuring Grieve’s line of Spitfire Biters.
Cozy and Intimate
The interior of the Grotto has a nice wooden finish with industrial lights giving way to a cozy and quiet ambiance.
What I Tried
I had purchased a Groupon voucher ($30 for $50 worth of food) a while back and redeemed it for this dinner experience. To start, we had the arancini balls (provolone, arrabiata, preserved lemon) ($12) which were scrumptious. Very crispy breading on the outside with a centre filled with cheese. The spicy arrabiata sauce put my taste buds on fire. The lemon accent was a nice touch.
The prosciutto ($16) pizza with mozzarella and figs was absolutely delicious. It’s one of their most popular pizzas. Super thin crust pizza with crunchy edges. The sweetness of the figs balanced the saltiness of the prosciutto.
Another popular dish we tried was the ossobucco on saffron risotto with gremolata and oven dried tomato ($19). The lamb was roasted to perfection to a melt-in-your-mouth goodness. The meat fell off the bone very nicely and was very moist. The oven dried tomatoes were very flavorful. My only dislike was that I found the saffron risotto to be too heavy. We were unable to finish the risotto because of that.
The service was friendly and attentive. We had one server but Fiona herself was around to bring out the dishes as well.
Overall Impression of The Grotto
Overall, I enjoyed the delicious, comforting Italian-inspired eats at the Grotto. I found the portions and quality to be reasonable for the value; we were most certainly full. The atmosphere is very cozy and intimate which is fitting for its location being sub-street level. Rating: 4/5
Disclaimer: All food in this review was complimentary. Opinions are my own.
At Gusto di Quattro, it’s all about delicious, homestyle, rustic, Italian food. Located by the Lonsdale Quay market in North Vancouver, Gusto di Quattro has been a favourite of locals since 2000 as well as a hit with tourists visiting the area. I recently attended a media tasting at Gusto di Quattro to sample their hearty Italian fare.
Cozy & Quaint
The interior of Quattro di Gusto has an inviting, warm and rustic feel. I love the burgundy walls and the dim lighting that set the cozy ambiance.
What We Tried
To start, we were presented with an absolutely mouthwatering antipasto platter ($17 per person). It came with caprese, radicchio bocconcini, fire-roasted tiger prawns, caramelized onion tartlets, smoked salmon crostini, and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. This dish had me at prosciutto-wrapped asparagus; I admit I had several pieces. Everything was just delicious and it was fun sharing it with others.
Next was the “customized combinazione” – a selection of 3 pastas presented in family style. Priced regularly at $27 per person for dinner, this family style pasta platter allows you to enjoy different pastas offered by Gusto di Quattro. On our platter was the spaghetti pomodoro, spaghetti quattro, and fettuccine con funghi. The pasta was cooked al dente and the sauce was blended evenly with the pasta.
As a mushroom lover, I thought Gusto di Quattro nailed it with the fettuccine con funghi. It had wild mushrooms in a velvety truffle cream sauce and topped with parmesan. Smooth and tasty, I highly recommend it.
The meatballs were tender and moist. Love that it had a homemade feel.
To finish off this meal, we had the tiramisu which was like heaven on Earth. Rich layers of mascarpone cream and ladyfingers infused with espresso and marsala…this dessert had me scraping the bottom of the plate!
Another dessert that was served was the panna cotta which was a vanilla-infused custard cream with fresh berry coulis and pizell. I didn’t try this dessert but it certainly was drool worthy!
Overall Impression of Gusto di Quattro
All in all, I would recommend the hearty, rustic, homestyle Italian fare from Gusto di Quattro. Great place to bring a date, your friends, your family and most importantly, your stomach! Gusto di Quattro is on the higher end price-wise but you can enjoy a budget-friendly meal on Mondays and Tuesdays with their $10 pasta.
For your chance to win a dinner for two at Gusto di Quattro, head on to Instagram:
At @gustodiquattro, it’s all about delicious, homestyle, rustic, Italian fare. I am excited to partner with @gustodiquattro to give one lucky follower a dinner for two (including 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, and 2 desserts). TO ENTER: 1. LIKE this post 2. FOLLOW @gustodiquattro + @foodgressing 3. TAG a pasta-loving ? friend (unlimited entries but must tag different friends each time) Giveaway closes Monday, April 18 at 23:59. Open only to Metro Vancouver residents. Check out my review of Gusto Di Quattro – link in bio! Per Instagram rules, we must mention this is in no way sponsored, administered, or associated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm they are 13+ years of age, release Instagram of responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s term of use.
For today’s Flashback Friday post, I’m going to share with you one of my favourite dining/entertainment foodie experiences in Vancouver. On Saturday nights, Cafe Pacifica at the Pan Pacific Hotel offers an Italian buffet complete with opera entertainment. I went for the Opera buffet back in 2012 when they had an amazing 50% off deal. It came out to be $25 per person plus tax and tip so it was well-worth it. I enjoyed it so much that I went three times during the promotional period. Here is a review of my experiences with the Opera buffet.
First of all, I found the selection of items at the Italian-inspired buffet to be very good. There is antipasto, a build-your-own pasta station, chef’s selection of entrees, and a jaw-dropping buffet table.
I kept a list of some of the items I had at the buffet and these included:
- panini with soppressata arugula provolone and tomatoes
- crostini basil
- tomato and bocconcini salad
- marinated mushrooms
- pasta salad with artichokes, sundried tomatoes and prosciutto ham
- lamb with an herb crust served with a red wine glaze
- cannelloni with spinach and ricotta cheese
- sable fish and arctic char with a caper citrus sauce
Cheese please with this assorted Italian cheese platter…
The mouthwatering dessert table is sure sign that the buffet is good.
I found myself entranced by the opera singers during their emotional performances. The waterfront views at Cafe Pacifica’s dining room are absolutely stunning and provided a perfect backdrop for the opera stage.
Overall Impression of Cafe Pacifica’s Opera Buffet
The current price per person for the opera buffet to be $52 plus tax and tip. I think the price is pretty reasonable considering you are dining at an upscale restaurant with entertainment. It certainly is a no-frills date night activity complete with good food and entertainment in an elegant setting. Rating: 3.5/5
Disclaimer: I was invited to Verifood for a complimentary meal. All opinions are my own.
At the newly-opened Verifood restaurant, chefs Vittorio and Simon have brought their love of handmade pasta from Florence to the streets of Vancouver. Verifood offers fresh handmade Italian cuisine prepared with the efficiency of fast food. I was recently invited to Verifood where I tried some of their dishes and learned more about the art of making pasta by hand. From my own experience of making handmade pasta, it is a labor of love with amazing and delicious end results.
All the pasta at Verifood is handmade fresh every morning and incorporate ingredients from Canada and imported from Italy. The dishes are based on traditional recipes but with some modern twists like employing the sous-vide cooking technique (cooked under vacuum). Chef Simon shared with me that his passion for handmade pasta started by learning from his grandmother. “That is the best” he remarked as he was preparing the pasta.
Verifood’s menu includes 10 choices for handmade pasta dishes all priced at less than $9. They also have appetizers including bruschetta and dishes prepared sous-vide such as roast beef. The full menu can be found on their website.
For starters, I had the Bruschetta Al Pomodoro. It was made with organic tomatoes, fresh Liguria basil, garlic, shaved certified Italian Parmigiano Reggiano and a touch of Tuscan extra virgin olive oil on focaccio bread. An overall light and refreshing summer pleasing appetizer.
The Melanzane Parmigiana was *oh so good.* This delicious dish had organic fried eggplants layered with light cheese and tomato sauce. I loved the sweetness of the eggplant with the soft, melting textures from cheese and tomato sauce. This appetizer is one that I would recommend.
Now onto the pasta…a labour of love.
The Gnocchi Al Pesto was one of my favourite Verifood dishes. The gnocchi had a nice texture being firm on the outside and soft on the inside and the basil pesto sauce was just delicious.
The Taglionlini Panna E Salmone had a nice, creamy sauce. I did wish there was more salmon, but for the price point of $9 it was fine. I do think that I would pay more for the dish to have more salmon.
I also had the Ravioli Burro E Salvia (spinach and ricotta ravioli) which was topped with sage. The ravioli was nice and tender while the filling was smooth.
For dessert, chef Simon prepared a Tuscan almond biscotti and a light, fluffy cake with a chocolate drizzle. The presentation was particularly cute with an imprint spoon made of flour. He noted that their desserts are also freshly made and rotate on a daily basis.
Overall Impression of Verifood
Why settle for premade pasta when you can have delicious handmade pasta at Verifood? My personal favourites are the Melanzane Parmigiana and the Gnocchi Al Pesto. Verifood is also budget-friendly with dishes around $9 so you can enjoy handmade Italian cuisine without breaking your wallet. Rating: 4/5