Finally took a short break from school work and had dinner with Joyce at Yaletown L’Antipasto. It was strange walking through Yaletown as I haven’t been in the area for well over a year and I was early for our reservation. Strangely enough, the popular restaurants along Mainland Street, including Glowbal and (the now closed) Goldfish, were fairly empty despite the popular Dine Out event. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of restaurants in Yaletown; there isn’t a single restaurant that stands out enough for me to travel out of the way just for the food there.
We had an early reservation on a weekday evening, which might explain why the restaurant was fairly quiet. The restaurant itself is small and tucked away, a little difficult to find. The interior of the building featured a lot of wood, dimmed lighting; it had a very cozy and romantic feel almost.
We had a look at the menu and were given recommendations for drinks. I had a Peroni Lager, which is an Italian beer – a little too light for my taste and went flat quickly. Joyce had the Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc to start but later on received the recommendation to switch to the Gabbiano Pinot Grigio .
We were invited by the restaurant to sample its menu, so most of the dishes we had that night were recommended, except for the beef tenderloin carpaccio. The dishes we tried include bruschetta mista, their daily pasta features which were rigatoni with baby back rib and tomato sauce and a four cheese gnocchi, the carpaccio mentioned above, and a panna cotta to share.
The bruschetta mista had a bit of a modification; instead of having the chicken pate (Joyce: the cook wasn’t happy with the quality of the pate, but I’m glad that they substituted it with something else instead of giving us sub-par food), we had one with red pepper, prosciutto and provolone cheese – which was actually my favourite of the four. I think the sweetness of the red pepper went really well with the cheese and gave a really nice contrast to the crusty bread. My second would be the classic tomato and basil, which was very fresh and light. Mortadella was good, but didn’t stand out. Provolone and sun dried tomatoes – my first question was, why were the tomatoes so dark and so incredibly salty? My last would be the olive pate, which was good, but I’m not a big fan of olives.
The rigatoni with baby back rib sounded strange to start with – never heard of putting ribs and pasta together. Can’t say that it was the best combination, but it wasn’t a horrible pairing. Both pasta dishes reminded me a lot of a more home cooking style and very filling. The tomato sauce tasted fresh, but had a heavy taste of alcohol. The pasta itself was too firm still; this may be because they used a dry rigatoni pasta. The meat on the rib was “fall-off-the-bone” and tasted well with the tomato sauce.
As for the gnocchi, I’m not an expert. I’ve had it before, where it was a lot more chewy and I found this one to be a bit tough. The sauce was pretty heavy, with four cheeses including a goat cheese and a blue cheese, which was why I thought I wouldn’t like it – but was pleasantly wrong. Actually loved the sauce, cheesy indeed but not extremely rich.
Joyce: There isn’t an actual kitchen in this space, only a couple of pans on the countertop. I saw the cook cooking/reheating the pasta to order, but I couldn’t figure out how much was pre-cooked and being re-heat and how much was cooked to order. That might explain the toughness in the pasta given that it’s not cooked “fresh”.
My biggest disappointment was the beef tenderloin carpaccio that I wanted to try. I’m not an Italian food expert, and I tend to eat carpaccio (tuna, salmon, beef) in a Japanese style so I’m used to a heavy marinade or a strong sauce that accents the natural flavours. However, the beef carpaccio served here were four large slices, and simply dressed with olive oil and lemon juice prior to serving. The lemon juice was too acidic and didn’t do anything for the dish; so really it tasted like some very pricey, oily beef (Joyce: I also had a feeling that these were from a piece of frozen beef tenderloin because the meat was still cold and rather bland as it’s served)…the side salad was heavily salted, not sure for what reason.
My favourite of the evening was probably the panna cotta, served with a raspberry sauce. I loved everything about it, except that it was a bit too sweet. You can actually see and taste the vanilla beans! The texture was so smooth and rich and creamy, paired with a slightly tart and sweet berry sauce, incredible. Joyce ordered a Latte to go with it. Good way to finish off dinner.
1127 Mainland Street, Vancouver