Cioppino’s Is Closing in December; Here’s How Chef Pino Posteraro Feels About The End of an Era

The best upscale Italian restaurant in Vancouver is shutting its doors after 25 years—but Chef Pino Posteraro isn't done cooking yet.

We’re honoured that Chef Pino Posteraro chose the Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards to announce the impending closure of Cioppino’s. But the man’s been up on stage at the Awards so many (many, many) times over the years that, really, it’s not surprising that this was the place he felt was right to make the big reveal. (One of two Taylor Swift moments that night, actually.)

Of course, along with his dramatic announcement of the end of a 25-plus year stint at the helm (and stove) of the city’s best upscale Italian joint came a lot of questions. Mainly, why now and what next? His brief speech promised that the storied room would be open until Christmas, but also that we hadn’t seen the last of Chef Pino.  

Builder and philanthropist Ryan Beedie is Posteraro’s partner in the restaurant, and is already nostalgic about the room closing (and saying goodbye to Chef’s curry-and-lentil lamb dish and incredible french fries). “There have been so many great memories over the years. And it’s because [Chef Pino] is a magician. He left a mark, and blazed a trail, and made an impact not just on this city, but on Canada,” he said in a recent phone call. “He’s the hardest working person I know. Twenty-four seven, he’s taking reservations, running to the store to get alcohol, he’s just all in, all the time.”

To find out more about Cioppino’s final chapter and Chef’s next moves, we called up Posteraro, hoping he’d dish more than just impeccable pasta.  

Photo: Lia Crowe

Cioppino’s last service will be in late December. What will you do next? 

Right now, I don’t have any plans, because I’m quite busy still. There was really no time to plan anything… it was a bit unexpected type of situation. We’ll keep doing the best we can, getting ready to have another six months of service. 

How do you want to make the most of your last few months in the space? 

My goals are to keep staff motivated and make sure we deliver the excellence that we are used to with service and food and hospitality. 

elegantly plated mushrooms

How did you know it was time to call it quits? 

We are living in a reality where we aren’t sure of how the economy is going to be moving forward. And beyond restaurants, the world. To be in a restaurant where, for 25 years, it’s been the place to go for Italian food and for hospitality, to come to a hard decision to close the restaurant because the lease is up and last year the performance wasn’t satisfactory… it’s a bit hard to accept at the beginning. But you have to consider that ultimately, you’re fortunate. We had a good run and made very good friends, and were recognized internationally. Don’t look at the glass half-empty. 

What do you think you’ll miss most about Cioppino’s? 

I’ll miss the interaction that I have with the staff. The interaction with the customers. The relationships that have been established. I don’t call my days a routine, because a routine is something you do that you don’t like. I’ve been in this business 45 years, and I’ve loved every single moment. 

What were some of the highlights from your two-plus decades here?  

The highlight has been to collaborate with so many beautiful humans. I’ve been receiving so many beautiful overwhelming emails: people who came as parents, now their kids are grown and coming too. After the renovation of the restaurant a few years ago, the demographic diversified, and there are now so many young people, so many people from different backgrounds. And they’re not the kind of people who come to catch us making a mistake and write on Google. They’re people they come to enjoy. They say, “Chef, cook for us, today we want the best Bolognese and the best salad.” I’m proud we’ve created an environment where people are conformable to enjoy food that isn’t so esoteric, but also can have creative food, too. 

plate of pasta on a table

How has the restaurant scene changed since you started in kitchens here? 

I came to Vancouver 29 years ago, and things have improved dramatically for the better. I’m a very atypical Italian: I’m Italian-Canadian, and I worked in Asia. I like the ‘contamination’ that I propose in my food—I don’t call it fusion. I’m on the phone constantly to receive fresh fish from Japan, or ingredients that are not easily available. Going to eat at a restaurant is supposed to provide you with a soulful experience, and not just a food experience. 

I know you don’t know what you’re doing next, but you are certain that you’re not retiring… right? 

I still think I can give a lot. I have this fire inside to teach young people. I turned 60, and I’m even more committed. I’m working even more. Two Sundays ago, I decided to go play soccer. As an aftermath, I had excruciating back pain. But I didn’t miss one minute of work, even with this back pain, because of the commitment. They call me old school, but I just want to serve the people.  

Cioppino’s last day of service will be December 21, 2024. Make your reservation now or cry forever. 

table in an elegant restaurant
Photo: Milk Creative Communications