In the mood for meatballs? Pining for pasta…preferably freshly handmade just steps away from your table? Vancouver has a robust Italian food scene, but there’s nary a red checkered table cloth or wax-streaked bottle of Chianti in sight. Instead we’ve got a bevy of Italian-centric eateries that showcase the diverse fare of bella Italia’s regions, dished up in inviting rooms diners want to visit again and again.
Here is our list of the best Italian restaurants in Vancouver.
You can’t get a reservation at Ask For Luigi…because they just don’t take them at this tiny Railtown restaurant. Intimate, simple, and focused, the space and the menu offer diners a consistently excellent food and dining experience. Meant for sharing, Ask For Luigi’s Italian-inspired fare has been a critical and consumer darling since its launch, for good reason.
Address: 305 Alexander Street
Phone: 604 428 2544
Chef Lucais Syme has been wowing customers at Cinara since its debut in 2014, though he honed his skill at some of the city’s other top notch Italian spots (Cioppino’s, La Quercia, La Pentola). At Cinara you’ll find thoughtful modern Italian fare on a short and oft-changed menu, served in a cozy space.
Address: 350 West Pender Street
Legendary Vancouver chef Umberto Menghi revived his mainstay Il Giardino in 2015, moving to a new block and shedding that bothersome “Il.” In a sumptuous interior that nods to his native Tuscany, well-heeled guests tuck into plates of decadent pasta, pricey steaks, and beautifully plated crudo.
Address: 1328 Hornby Street
Campagnolo was hip before its address was, and Robert Belcham’s rustic, seasonal menu of casually elegant Italian fare is a joy to discover or revisit. Don’t forget to order the Crispy Ceci (fried chickpeas) from the antipasti section, and indulge in their Salumi board, featuring housemade charcuterie. Campagnolo’s pizzas showcase fresh local produce, while hearty pasta and risotto shine for entrees.
Address: 1020 Main Street
Fresh pasta dishes, comforting mains, bright salads, and delightful desserts showcase the ingredients of the season, as well as classic Northern Italian flavours with modern touches at La Pentola inside Yaletown’s chic OPUS Hotel. Diners who prefer to eat in the “famiglia” style can request a five- or seven-course menu for sharing with the whole table; this bespoke dining option is a rare find in the city, and a great way to mark a special evening out.
Address: 350 Davie Street
CinCin is an undisputed Robson Street staple, and while many may pass right by their second-floor digs, they’d be sorely missing out on the restaurant’s outstanding contemporary Italian fare. On a menu that boasts several housemade pastas are dishes making use of CinCin’s incredible heritage wood-fired oven. The result is a market-driven selection of fresh, west coast-inspired modern Italian food served in a warm and elegant surrounding.
Address: 1154 Robson Street
Downtown’s Cibo Trattoria is another hotel workhorse restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, but is still able to create a high-quality dining experience. Here the Italian eats are rustic with a twist; you can start off with a Brodo (broth) or beautifully executed arancini, then move into handmade pastas, like delicate ravioli, and hearty mains, including an osso bucco–all made with seasonal produce and bright flavours.
Address: 900 Seymour Street
Kitsilano’s La Quercia is cherished for its casual Italian fare. This small spot is definitely a local favourite, thanks to their simple approach to the food, using fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients. La Quercia’s welcoming staff help create an inviting atmosphere in the eatery. The restaurant truly shines when dining family style, and letting the chef and crew create a special feast for the table–including having lots of vegetarian options.
Address: 3689 West 4th Avenue
Osteria Savio Volpe is the newest kid in town serving up simple, classic Italian food in a comfortably elegant and family-friendly East Van setting. From the team behind L’Abattoir, Savio Volpe seems to have struck a chord among locals for its housemade pastas and fire-grilled meats. Look for them to debut a take-out roast chicken option soon, too.
Address: 6015 Kingsway
Chef Pino Posteraro is among a legion of esteemed Vancouver chefs who have held firm their reign of superiority, and his longstanding Cioppino’s in Yaletown bears testament to his dedication to his cuisine, craft, and clientele.
Address: 1129/1133 Hamilton Street
Enjoy Italian casual dining at this Cambie Village eatery. The menu follows a traditional formula and features handmade pasta, porchetta (Italian roast pork), pizza, sandwiches, and vegetarian dishes. Look out for the chalkboard specials.
Address: 3473 Cambie Street
their simple approach to the food, using fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients.