La Quercia Italian surprises served family style

La Quercia
3689 West 4 Avenue, V6R 1P2
604.676.1007

Blink and you might miss this small nook on the corner of Alma and West 4th.  The modern appointed restaurant has you sitting elbow to elbow with strangers and yet you won’t even realize they are there.  The a la carte menu looks delicious but we ordered Alla Famiglia which was five generous and splendid courses.  To my delight they were flexible to food requirements and brought us dishes with pork.  A lovely rabbit pate, a salad with hazel nuts, and a selection of three delicious pastas were fabulous.  Beef carpacio was delicate to bite, and strong on flavour.  The gnocchi was tender and very fresh in a rabbit sauce, which lets be honest tasted like chicken.  By the time the main course came I couldn’t believe there was still more to eat.  After a lovely veal scallopi the meal finished with a selection of three lovely desserts.  The house wine, although I don’t remember the name (do I ever) was delicious.  I was treated for my birthday – what a wonderful treat thanks to my Kili tent mate (and Italian food expert)!  I’m giving it a very good, and I’m looking forward to going again.  The price point on the family style meal is great value for what you get at 45$ per person.  Make a reservation though, I’ve been trying for months to get here.  It has a dedicated following and only a few seatings a night so it books up.  If my first visit was any indication you won’t be disappointed.

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Not OKJust OKVery OKVery GoodGreat (2 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)
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On Main Street just off West Georgia

Campagnolo Restaurant
1020 Main St, Vancouver 604.484.6018‎

Just a brief note on Campagnolo. Annie and I ventured here just after it had opened. I believe it is owned by the same folks that on Fuel (where I still haven’t been, and would love to go!). It is an understated Italian restaurant on Main Street. The food was good, but not exceptional. The atmosphere was a bit dark and bare bones. The food was fresh though, and the service was good. Prices moderate. So if you’ve been here and had a more outstanding experience please share!

If you have been to Campagnolo share your rating and comments below Not OKJust OKVery OKVery GoodGreat (1 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
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A stop before heading out on the town with friends

Trattoria Kitchen
1850 West 4th Ave, Vancouver
604.732.1441

Jumping with a club like vibe that feels a little late 90’s this West 4th venue is a better stop with a group of friends than an intimate dinner. Our evening was one with friends to kick off a weekend of fun so it met our needs. We started with Kobe meatballs appetizer for everyone and the bruchetta. The bruchetta was fresh and the combination of different colored tomatoes made it deelish! The meat balls were good – but I’d say only so so in my repertoire of yummy Italian meatballs. A couple of us at the table ordered the Kobe beef lasagna. Now is as a good a time as any to mention I think it is con’fusion to have Japanese beef on an Italian menu, but my bigger concern here is the ‘overkill’ as it shows up in several dishes. However, in the case of the lasagna…um…it was goooood. There was a section of other dishes gnocchi, carbonara’s and more all enjoyed. Our service staff fully engaged (with controversial opinions and all) in our conversation on countless occasions, ranking it very high on the bad service category. This place also has a tv at the bar – why oh why Vancouver do you need tvs in all your restaurant bars? A little class please. I’m giving the lasagna a Very Good, but Trattoria Kitchen, service accounted for, only gets a Very Ok.

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Race weekend…carbing up for prospect point!

Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca
1129/1133 Hamilton Street, Vancouver
604.688.7466

When I left a message for a reservation at award winning Cioppino’s I was surprised when the chef himself called back, and even more surprised when eating there we saw him several times throughout the dinner. This personal touch makes you feel as though you are a special guest in Pino’s kitchen, rather than a patron in his restaurant. We were seated in the wine room which had such a great ambiance, but unfortunately with our race the next day we weren’t able to indulge. Instead we focused our efforts on the food. OO had the risotto seafood special, LA…with the braised wild boar shoulder, and LA!! with the “Scalopine ai funghi”…OO…LA…LA!! We all shared the potato gnocchi, which was the best gnocchi I’ve ever had…it was divine. Our appetizers were also delicious with the warm goat cheese salad taking the prize. My veal was good, but not great, however based on the combined pleasure around the table we are giving Cioppino’s a “Great” and a “We’d like to come back when we can have a bottle or two of wine!”. The service staff got a bit too casual with us for my liking, but they were very attentive, and helped us make some good choices. So if you are looking to celebrate a special occasion with friends or share a romantic evening this is a great place!

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“Gunga Din is not a, a swatch kind of movie”

Terramia Ristorante
98 Salem St., North End, Boston, MA, 02113
617.523.3112

 

Do you know that feeling when you are at a good restaurant with a close friend enjoying a bottle of fine wine with the vibrance and bustle of the restaurant around you yet the lighting is dim enough you feels like you could be the only people there? You’ll talk about anything and not worry that anyone might be listening, and the food experience is heightened by the ambiance. Terramia Ristorante is one of those places, nestled on a cobblestone street in the heart of Boston’s North End. I’d say the food was a solid 8. Rumor has it that it used to be even better, but that it has a new chef, although it is still quite good. My mushroom soup starter was something special, and the lobster fritters were yummy as well. The second course was a tomato tarte that was too heavy on the onions and too sweet for my palate. My veal was ginormous and very good. They don’t usually serve dessert, but offered us Tiramisu (reminds me of one of Tom Hanks’ jokes in sleepless in Seattle…. “Some woman is gonna want me to do it to her and I’m not gonna know what it is!”), however we had to pass because we were so full. I’m going to give it a Very Good.

 

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Calgary comes of age? First down…and thinking enRoute might have something here…

Mercato
2224 – 4th Street S.W.
Calgary
403.263.5535

 

The first stop on the enRoute mission is Mercato. “Exciting, imaginative expression of Italian classics…”. Mercato is a restaurant with a mix of an Italian grocery store. It has a striking open kitchen and a mix of classic tables and long bar height tables. The restaurant has a loud buzz and is comfortably lit. The menu is just the right length, appropriately themed, and has an interesting assortment of side dishes. We ordered an antipasto platter as an appetizer, main courses, and a side dish. Too much food, but great to try it all. The side dish was Funghi, which was “great!”. The gnocchi was homemade, soft and supple, avoiding the common gnocchi plague of being over worked and therefore tough. The ricotta on my Fettuccini was divine and the pasta was al dente. Masculan Pinot Nero felt like a big hug from an Italian mother as it mingled with the dinner. However, crack open the check book because this is what those in the know call a “negative per diem day”, and the rest of you who are sane call a $$$ meal. Mains are reasonably priced in the $16 range for pastas (more for meat/seafood), but it’s the extras that add to the price, but also the experience. Mercato gets a Very Good (borderline Great).

If you have been to Mercato share your rating using the stars below Not OKJust OKVery OKVery GoodGreat (3 votes, average: 4.67 out of 5)
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