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Bury yourself in the flavours of Italy—from rich handmade pastas to peach- and basil-tinged burrata—Vancouver style.
Credit: Chris Giannakos
When Ask for Luigi opened in late 2013, it created a rare buzz in this city. Excitement? For Italian? But the tiny house in Railtown had lineups around the block for chef JC Poirier’s excellent and affordable take on the classics, paired with wine in tumblers. The draw: rigatoni alla bolognese—a dish that’s surprisingly easy to screw up, yet perfection here as tooth-tender handmade pasta in a rich, meaty sauce. 305 Alexander St.
Savio seemed to reinvent nonna’s casual Italian for Vancouverites, with its wood-fired oven cranking out perfectly seared rosemary roast chicken and veal chops alike. The rest of the menu sings, too: handmade pasta tossed in Sunday sauce, a shredded kale salad in a lemon-pepper dressing that will make you think you aren’t over the veg after all—Savio’s is a place you come to with an appetite, and graze as much of the menu as you can. The dish: bagna cauda, your week’s worth of veg paired with a warm, garlicky dipping sauce that you’ll literally want to bathe in. 615 Kingsway
A neighbourhood joint that punches above its weight class in classic Italian fare—all handmade with only Italian ingredients and traditional recipes. It’s a tiny room, but the warm, friendly service and authentic fare feels very far from the Davie Street strip. The dish: carbonara—you’re here for a night of decadent food, so go all in. Rich in egg and cream with slices of guanciale, it’s a perfect January-night meal. (Grab a bottle of Montepulciano while you’re at it.) 1220 Bute St., 604-559-5034
Chef Pino—or perhaps we should say Sir Pino, since he was named Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy, an award he was given by Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, in 2018—has managed the luxe ship of Cioppino’s for nearly two decades, and this stalwart remains a favourite of out-of-town celebs (hey, Bono) and locals alike. The dish: spaghetti alla vongole, so perfect in its al dente excellence that it never comes off the menu.1133 Hamilton St.