Yaletown’s home spun Italian restaurant now has a second location, and tonight we traveled down to the West End, to check it out. Like the original spot, this spin off too has that hidden gem feel. Its discrete locale creates the intimacy you want in a quieter dinner. It isn’t on a Main Street, nor are there loud signs highlighting it. In fact, you wouldn’t know it was here, unless you were staying at the hotel adjacent. But unlike their Yaletown location, this one has plenty of room and a nicer patio to take advantage of.
Given the beautiful weather we took a seat on their out door terrace. Wood table tops and black whicker chairs, set to the confines of a gated in and covered lot. Our table was at the outermost perimeter, against a well trimmed hedge; under the shadow of a tree that would shed leaves and tendrils, reminding us of its presence. This was the perfect setting for our girls night out, minus those playing in the basket ball court with their boisterous commentary.
Since there were two of us, we ordered their “Date Night” option, basically its two of everything, plus a bottle of wine for $122. Two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts. There are slight restrictions, but you are definitely saving, considering a bottle wine is around $40 to start with.
Our meal began with a complimentary dish of olives. Eaten with tooth picks and their pits spat out into a pinch bowl.
Our chosen wine came shortly after. You are basically choosing either red or white. We went with the Tolloy Pinot Grigio, kept cool in an ice bucket, at our table. With it, our server was quick to keep our glasses full. When we sat down she greeted us promptly, welcoming us in full. She was gentle and poised with a wonderfully sing song voice.
For appetizers we shared the carpaccio and fritters. “Beef tenderloin carpaccio”. Thinly sliced AAA Alberta beef tenderloin, drizzled with grainy mustard and white alba truffle oil. Topped with mixed greens and slices of Parmesan cheese. And accented with fresh ground pepper at the table. Delicate and delicious with the mustard as a nice zing. But I felt it need more substance, so we paired it with the “Mozzarella di bufala fritta” below.
Breaded and deep fried mozzarella di bufala bocconcini. Crispy and chewy, where I wanted crispy and gooey. The cheese was quick to firm and the nuggets concaved into themselves. Here, I expected to bite into balls of cheese. Still tasty, they reminded me of gussied up pub fare. It is served with a pesto sauce, but dipping into it really didn’t add anything to the overall dish.
For entrees I had pasta and my guest risotto.
The “Pesto and burrata” pasta, is exactly as it is named. The pesto is a blend of pistachio, pine nut, basil, and arugula. It had a bold, yet nuanced flavour that kept you going back for more. That and the pasta was amazing: the texture perfection. The burrata was best stirred in, to give the dish some creaminess.
The “Risotto alla Pescatora” (seafood risotto) did not disappoint. It was a bounty of tiger prawns, calamari, mussels, clams, and scallop. More seafood that rice to enjoy them with. The flavours were full with a warming dull spice. It was hearty and comforting, yet refined. This is one I would order next time.
For dessert I had the “Lavender creme brûlée”, it was a lumpy cream with a botanical flavour. I didn’t like the medicinal nature of the lavender all that much, but did fully enjoy the toasted sugar crust that topped it.
Similarly I didn’t enjoy the panna cotta either. You have your choice of topping between chocolate and raspberry syrup, and I think we made the wrong choice with chocolate. The featured dessert was light with the faint taste of cream, by comparison the chocolate (and the amount of it) overwhelmed. Its flavour was so pronounced that you couldn’t appreciate the simplicity and lightness of the panna cotta.
We enjoyed our time and their space so much that we ended up stayed longer, and sharing a second bottle of wine. This was a add on to the “Date Night”, and one I recommend if all things are going well on your date night.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I am already a fan of the beautiful plates and fresh pastas that “Robba Da Matti” is known for, but with this new space it elevates your dining experience with them. Plenty of seating, with room in between tables, you aren’t crammed in, like at their Yaletown spot. Come in during a blue sky day and enjoy the full extent of their patio. Truly a wonderful space to have a delicious meal. They deliver on their slogan: “fresh pasta, fine wine & a good time. Don’t deny your cravings.
ROBBA DA MATTI
1906 Haro Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 1H7