Eaters Gotta Eat: Banda Volpi Culinary Director Phil Scarfone’s Fave Places to Eat

Here's where Scarfone sources spicy noodles, next-level scallop rolls and chef-approved cuts of meat.

Trust one of the epicurean brains behind Savio Volpe, Caffe La Tana, Pepino’s Spaghetti House, and, soon, Elio Volpe (slated to open end-of-February) to have great taste when it comes to dining out. We asked Banda Volpi culinary director Phil Scarfone to divulge his fave plates and grocery scores around Vancouver, and got completely ravenous in the process.

Photo: Olivia Horrell

Fat Mao Noodles

217 East Georgia

Most Sundays, Scarfone and his wife, Courtney, end their weekend at Fat Mao in Chinatown, Chef Angus An’s cozy Thai soup noodle house. His go-to? Hot & Sour Pork Noodles. “It’s rich, spicy, and acidic with lots of textures and three different kinds of pork. When you get to the very bottom it’s just all the minced pork and peanuts that have been soaking in the broth—so delicious.” 

Temaki Sushi

2156 West Broadway

The blink-and-you’ll miss it blue awning-ed Temaki on Broadway gets Scarfone’s vote for the city’s “most underrated sushi program”, a lasting legacy of its founding chef, Hilary Nguy, who has since opened upscale Sushi Hil on Main Street. “I get the Roll Set: chop scallop roll, spicy tuna roll, and dynamite roll. Pretty basic stuff, but it gets me that sushi fix.”

Sula Indian Restaurant

4172 Main Street

Sula’s Main Street location is Scarfone’s top choice for Indian—despite meeting friends there for lunch sometimes and realizing they both went to different locations (there’s one on Commercial Drive, too). “It’s the best in town, and the menu is really diverse—so much more than just butter chicken and aloo gobi. I love the tandoori chicken… anything from their tandoor oven is great.”

La Grotta Del Formaggio

1791 Commercial Drive

When he’s working from Pepino’s on The Drive, Scarfone’s go-to lunchtime panini is from La Grotta. “I go (more often than I should) for the half-focaccia with mortadella and capicola, plus all the vegetables, hold the red onions. They are the most delicious sandwiches… You have to hide in the office and eat it by yourself because it just gets everywhere.”

Greens Market

1978 Broadway

For a place with a name that sounds, well, pretty vegan, independently owned Greens Market has an amazing in-house butchery program. “It’s one of those hidden gems. They get their pigs from Tatton Springs—the same place we get ‘em for Savio—their beef from 63 Acres, their chickens from Maple Hill Farms. And they have all different cuts of beef… so it’s not just like, striploin and tenderloin. They have little cuts that are really delicious that not a lot of people know about. They also make their own bacon.”

Kim’s Mart

519 East Broadway

The small, neighborhood-favourite grocer Kim’s Mart is, as Scarfone puts it, “really good if you don’t mind bumping into people the whole time you’re shopping there.” He scoops up the house-made tofu and kimchi, frozen dumplings, hard-to-find veggies, and rambutan fruit. “I always buy a different kind of noodle when I’m there just to see what shakes out because I don’t understand what’s on the container.”

Photo: Hakan Burcuoglu

Pepino’s Spaghetti House and Savio Volpe

631 Commercial Dr.; 615 Kingsway

Naturally, Scarfone also finds himself eating at his Banda Volpi restaurants—with some twists. “At Pepino’s I get the rigatoni alla vodka with a meatball and a ball of burrata… that’s like the secret off-menu option.” At Savio, he loves anything off the wood grill and the kale salad. “I do think eating your own food is tough, though,” he says. “It’s kind of like trying to tell yourself a joke: you always know all the nuances about it.”