Railtown’s new Italian trattoria named Restaurant of the Year—and more.
At the conclusion of the 26th annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, yesterday (Apr. 21) at the Sheraton Wall Centre, Ask for Luigi was named Restaurant of the Year. The Railtown trattoria’s serial victories (it also took home prizes for Best Casual, Best Italian Casual, and Best New Restaurant of the Year) perhaps arched as many skeptical eyebrows as when the similarly green Farmer’s Apprentice claimed a trio of top ribbons in 2014. Launched in December 2013 (following a short soft opening), Ask for Luigi seems purposely, uniformly modest: small (only 32 seats), in a space hastily abandoned by its former tenant (Two Chefs and a Table), and offering a menu of uncommon brevity and specificity (some small plates, half a dozen pastas, a trio of desserts). Yet this very artlessness is what’s proven so seductive to everyone who eats here. In a city that, for all its culinary accomplishments, has historically lacked excellent yet affordable Italian cuisine, Luigi redresses the problem so effortlessly, it seems to encourage us to take it for granted. Chef and co-owner J-C Poirier’s food aims not to break new ground but to exemplify the best notion of that which is wholly familiar, whether spaghetti Bolognese or olive-oil cake. Which is why this ostensibly “neighbourhood” joint—in a ’hood where, as yet, few actually live—immediately became a destination, prompting the reliable sight of a line outside its door. Our Restaurant of the Year prize is meant to spotlight that which proved most revelatory, most exciting, and, above all, most consistently delicious throughout a specific period. To that end, and to our palates, Ask for Luigi tastes like 2014’s premier success.