Vancouver’s well-established Italian restaurant scene offers a range of classic dishes innovatively prepared, from perfect pasta and pizza to mouth-watering antipasti to sustainable seafood. With the added charm of fresh West Coast ingredients the result is countless delicioso options for every budget and taste — check out our top ten picks below.
Call us unoriginal for ranking this as top spot, but the critics and public agree, chef Pino Posteraro’s restaurant consistently delivers incomparable Italian cuisine. With antipasti like in-house made and cured salami (made from organic pork) and pasta dishes like Ocean Wise-certified Atlantic half lobster linguine with tomato-cream-lobster sauce — not to mention perfect wine pairings — there’s a (delicious) reason Cioppino’s was recently named Vancouver’s best Restaurant of 2014.
Don’t let words like "casual" and "affordable" fool you, Campagnolo Roma’s tasty menu features well prepared pizza, pasta, and antipasti made with quality ingredients. Try a marinara or romana pizza and beer combo for just $15, or stop in for a brunch of brioche French toast with Nutella. Already an award winner, this East Side spot faces no risk of living in the shadow of its sister restaurant, critic and crowd favorite Campagnolo.
3. La Buca
An intimate dining space tucked away from the city hustle and bustle in a residential area, La Buca’s mid-range menu features an all Italian wine list and dining “alla famiglia” of family style. Other options include a five-course chef’s menu, tasting plates, and decadent a la carte pasta dishes like ricotta and truffle tortellini with smoked prosciutto and sage bitter.
Modelled after the style of a traditional Italian trattoria, this 50 seat restaurant was hailed by several sources as Vancouver’s best new restaurant back in 2008—and the praise hasn’t stopped since. With ‘farm to table’ organic ingredients, Cibo Trattoria serves up rustic Italian cuisine for breakfast, brunch (weekends only), lunch, and dinner in its central Downtown location.
5. Cin Cin
Cin Cin has a long standing reputation as one of Vancouver’s best and most stylish Italian restaurants. Cin Cin executive chef Andrew Richardson believes “less is more” and has created a contemporary Italian menu with dishes made with quality, West Coast ingredients, like BC halibut with ricotta gnocchi, sunchoke, and brocconline. Located on busy Robson Street, the restaurant sits atop a winding stone staircase and famously features a wood-fired oven.
6. La Terrazza
This Yaletown spot has been on the receiving end of accolades since it opened its doors in 1998. Classic Italian and the best of the West Coast result in menu items like Merluzzo — oven roasted sable fish with black kale, chive potato croquette and white truffle lemon vinaigrette. Of particular note, however, is the restaurant’s award winning wine list. With 2,500 labels including Italian, American, and British Columbian offerings, it’s among the most extensive Canada wide.
7. La Quercia
This Kitsilano favorite is known for a contemporary casual menu focused on the best of Northern Italian food and wine. The ever-evolving menu includes a daily fresh sheet, a pasta tasting menu and offerings like polenta gnocchi stuffed with brisket and nettles in intimate and unpretentious surroundings.
This Yaletown restaurant offers patrons the best of fine Italian cuisine with an adventurous flare and vibrant dining space. Everything is made in house, including a mix of classic and inventive house made pasta dishes including a delicious Canneloni with veal, parmigano, tomato, and bechamella. Mains include an assortment of seafood, chicken, lamb, and even grilled quail.
Boasting a self-proclaimed “old world charm, new world vibe” the perpetually busy and buzzing Italian kitchen is a popular Downtown hot spot. The menu focuses on dishes inspired by regional Italian favourites. Other menu items include spaghetti and spicy kobe meatballs, lobster ravioli, and pizza, including lamb sausage pizza. Don’t miss the handcrafted cocktails!
Commercial Drive is home to some of Vancouver’s most classic Italian and cafes and restaurants, as well as the Italian Day festival every June. It’s only fitting then that popular Commercial spot Fredrico’s Supper Club is featured on this top ten. With live music and dancing five nights a week, the restaurant serves up tasty antipasti, traditional pasta dishes, and Italian desserts like Canoli Sicilani and Tiramisu All’arancia.
Honourable Mention: Anton’s Pasta Bar
Technically it’s in Burnaby, but with a dinner menu featuring over seventy original pasta dishes all for under $17, Vancouverites don’t mind venturing east. Opened over 25 years ago the Calabrian run restaurant has expanded from classic baked lasagna to more innovative offerings, like Cajun inspired fusilli (with scallops, sausages, prawns and chicken). Notorious for its legendary portion sizes, those who finish get bragging rights (and a pen).