Italian restaurants in Vancouver Canada take it to the next level


Perched on the marble bar at Giovane Bacaro on the ground floor of the Fairmont Pacific Rim, I ask for recommendations among the small plates which are the restaurant’s specialty and I get some crisps.

“Potato chips are what the Venetians eat withe their afternoon Aperol spritz, ”the waiter says, but that’s hardly what I expected from the cicchetti, the ultra-small portions that make up the first part of the menu. Framed advertisements for Campari above the bar are reminiscent of a swaying 1960s Venice, along the lines of the lemon-colored Vespa permanently at the front. The fries seem like a jarring addition, as opposed to, say, white anchovy on crostini, but the waiter is right. So thin that they sparkle like stained glass, the homemade crisps topped with rosemary and sage contain a salty and herbaceous bite. (And the tangy white anchovy isn’t bad either.)

Italian is nothing new in Vancouver, where tasty southern food has long been a staple. But in recent years, the Kitchen Table Restaurants group has pursued modern dishes, like fresh pasta at Ask for Luigi on the edge of Gastown and artisan pizza at Pizzeria Farina. Giovane Bacaro, open in early summer, is a tribute to the laid-back side of Venice, ideal for the trendiest of Vancouver’s three luxury Fairmont hotels.

“Authenticity is not something extremely important to us,” says Culinary Director Alex Tung. “It’s about taking the traditions of some vitality and some produce from Italy, but asking, how would an Italian cook in Vancouver? So they import the loud, boisterous vibe of a Venetian bar, but that doesn’t bother the flavors entirely from the Northwest. Still on the server’s recommendation, I try the sbocciare, a nettle paste molded in the shape of a rose around a thick slice of caciocavallo fondue, garnished with fresh summer vegetables. Once again, the waiter is correct.

That same month, Kitchen Table also launched Miantiao at the nearby Shangri-La Hotel, the concept wrapping Italian around Chinese influences in a slightly darker and darker space. But only a few months later, the group plans to completely rework and rename the restaurant, moving more firmly towards Italian flavors.

“Vancouver is a laid back city,” says Tung, who despite his Chinese origins considers himself an honorary Italian. “We have let go of the kind of vanity, the French aspects of some of our restaurants – people love the friendliness and sharing of Italian. ”

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