1020 Main Street, Vancouver
Great food, non-pretentious, casual atmosphere, friendly staff.
There were too many dishes on the menu that we wanted to try so my three girlfriends and I decided to get the "family style menu" which is a surprise selection of their best dishes. There are two family-style menu: $35 and $45. The $35 menu includes a couple of dishes from appetizers, mid courses (pastas) and pizza; and the $45 menu includes a couple of dishes from appetizers, mid courses, pizza, main courses, side dishes and desserts. We ought to get the $45 as it had the best sampler option. My only real complaint is they don't take reservation for a party of 4. My friends and I had yo wait over 40 minutes for a table on a Friday evening. And they are not skillful in executing their dessert menu. Other than these two minor negative, the food is worth going back for.
Unique cluster of vintage bulbs used as ceiling pendants.
Simplistic modern decor.
Dish 1: Sawmill Bay Mussels braised fennel, cannellinis, charred ciabatta $13.00
This dish was one of the best mussels dish I've had in years. The fennel had a nice liquorice flavour and crush while the beans added some softness which really balanced the fleshy mussels.
Dish 2: Crispy Ceci chickpeas, chilies, mint, citrus $8.50
Not to sound too exaggerated but this deep fried chickpeas dish was delishhhhhh!!! I could bottle them up in a jar and keep them by my coffee table, to snack on while watching TV on Saturday night.
Dish 3: Winter Vegetable Salad crispy bread, bagna cauda $11.50
This was another one of those dish that I really enjoyed! This is no lie and I am not being paid to write this. All the root and hearty vegetable in this dish really worked well together. I normally would not even eat radish!
Dish 4: Porchetta Tonatto pork loin, tuna mayonnaise, parsley, anchovy $13.00
I am sorry to say but I absolutely detest this dish. There was nothing in this dish that was me! The paper thin pork was so thin that I couldn't even tell I was eating meat. The excessive amount of mayo on top threw me off this earth! There was so much of it that I might as well have eaten a bucket full of Hellman's.
Dish 5: Margherita fior di latte mozzarella, tomato, basil $12.50
Best simple pizza. I don't know what the secret ingredient in the tomato sauce was but it was yummy and not too tangy! The fresh made mozzarella set it apart as well.
Dish 6: Rigatoni ham fagioli, tomato preserve, pecorino $19.00
While I like the crush of the bread crumb and little pieces of meat here and there with the rigatoni, a little bit more sauce would have been nice as I found it a tad bit on the dry side.
Dish 7: Tonarelli manila clams, spiced sausage, marinated eggplant $17.50
Who would have thought eggplant would go so well with sausage and clams? I have tried the sausage and clam combo at home before and find them very complimentary together. Adding the eggplant in pushed it up another notch. I am going to impress with this added veggie in my pasta next time. :)
Dish 8: Il Pesce del Giorno fresh fish of the day market price
We got grilled cod with a veggie ragout and caramelized onion. A dish like this typically runs $23-27.
I loved the crispy but not burnt crunchy outer skin of the fish. Why can't I get my fish to be crispy on the outside while maintaining the moisture of the fish on the inside?!??!?! I have no words to describe this dish. I loved it. I love perfectly cooked fish + caramelized onion + perfectly seasoned and cooked vegetable. When you add all of that in one dish, that puts me in a food coma.
Ummm, not a huge fan of polenta and this dish had a lot of it! Creamy polenta reminds me of congee that Chinese parents make you eat when you get sick. :/ What I did like was the steak (it had a nice smoky flavour and a minty/basil green sauce on it) and the fried onion was a plus.
Dish 10: Arugula, grilled treviso, almonds $6.00
It's nice to have a refreshing salad after all that polenta and pasta.
These deep fried ricotta balls were qu ite rich and creamy. Again, I am not a huge fan of creamy food so would not have the best thing to say. However I did like the tomato sauce. :)
Dish 12: Sauteed rapini, salumi sugo, chillies $8.00
Rapini, also known as broccoli rabe is sually quite bitter and difficult to flavour.
They have somehow mastered this dish so that it is not bitter but rather tasty.
Dish 13: Rice Pudding grape preserve, fennel biscotti $8.00
This dish tasted like it looked - bland and boring! Rice should not be eaten as a dessert.
It tasted like rice and a lot of sugar and cream. The only thing I liked was the pickled grapes, but there was not enough for me to eat to disguise the rice and sugary cream sauce.
This dessert was not as revolting as the rice pudding but I still did not enjoy it. It was a larger chocolate bar cake loaded with sugar. The cake was dry and the thin layer of nutella and finely chopped nuts did not do much for me.