If you are like me, and the thought of excessive lines and random covid tests at airports scare you, and you are not quite ready for the associated stress of air travel. However, there is another passport you can wield, that gives you a glimmer into Italy, and is accompanied by the possibility of prizes.
This is the Kitchen Table Restaurant’s Summer Like an Italian promotion. From August 15th until September 21st, 2022 diners can pick up complimentary dining passports from any of the participating Kitchen Table restaurants. Each looks and feels like an actual passport, with pages dedicated to a restaurant and a specialty dish offered by them. Each dish speaks to a geographical story of each location and diners are invited to visit each to try said dish. Each restaurant visited and dish tried is rewarded with a restaurant stamp, with the goal to collect all the stamps and enter to win gift cards and prizes to and for your favourite Italian restaurants. They are as follows.
Two stamps: 10 changes to win a Tote package (value: $50)
Three stamps: 5 chances to win a $50 gift card to Pizzeria Farina
Four stamps: 3 chances to win a $100 gift card to Bacaro
Five stamps: 3 chances to win a $150 gift card to Di Beppe
Six stamps: 2 chances to win a $200 gift card to Carlino
Seven stamps: 2 chances to win a $300 gift card to Ask For Luigi
Complete your passport with Eight stamps and be entered to win a $500 Kitchen Table Restaurants gift card.
In the spirit of “you gotta catch ‘em all”, we decided to visit all the restaurants, in one day, to collect all our stamps in one go. This was 8 restaurants worth of food and drink made into a full day of meals, with multiple courses. Each offering unique and different, giving you a variety of Italian cuisine.
If planning on doing this undertaking yourself, be sure to make note of opening hours and menu availabilities, to plot out your route before hand. The following is in the order of which we visited each.
Ask For Luigi Restaurant
305 Alexander St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1C4, Canada
Rigatoni alla Bolognese
This pasta dish with its slow cooked meat based sauce was our favourite of the day. A saucy and salty plate of perfectly cooked tubes. Hearty and chewy it satisfied.
8 W Cordova St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1C9, Canada
Carbonara (guanciale, pecorino, egg yolk & black pepper)
This was a plate with heavily coated creamy spaghetti, saucy and salty from all the salty cured meat. A classic done wonderfully. A little rich on its own, I prefer to share. There is the option to have this made vegetarian as well.
1115 Alberni St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1A5, Canada
Frico of fried montasio (mountain cheese made from cow’s milk from Northeastern Italy), onion, and potato.
It eats like a cross between an omelet and hashbrowns with salty cheese and filling, cut cubes of potato. Very breakfast ready. A great one for cheese lovers, but I was left feeling like I needed something fresh to pair with it.
1049 W Cordova St, Vancouver, BC V6C 0B9, Canada
Espresso Shakerato (espresso shaken on ice)
This was like a cold brew, sweetened with syrup. It was slightly sugary, but not so sweet that you can’t make out the quality of the coffee. A dark roasted shot topped with extra foam, the foam did not really add any flavour or textural notes to the beverage. This is one that I would recommend for a quick pick me up.
1001 W Cordova St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2G8, Canada
Gelato or Garnita (flavour of choice)
At Motoretta, the new gelato shoppe, you can either pick between any gelato of your choosing or a garnita. A garnita is a coarse Italian-style flavored ice, like a snow cone or slushie. I personally prefer and would recommend their gelato. This is their Amarena Cherry, a silky smooth vanilla based gelato with a tart cherry pucker from actual, whole cherries preserved in syrup. I love the way it gets spun on to a cone or into a cup: steady hand and precise work. It ate more like a cross between ice cream and gelato as it isn’t as light and airy as other versions I have had. I usually don’t finish my cold desserts because it is either too sweet or I get bored of the taste, although this one I had no problem demolishing in one sitting.
Farina a Legna
119 2nd St E, North Vancouver, BC V7L 1C2, Canada
Cipolla Pizza (onion & Calabrian chili sauce, zucchini, sweet peppers, pickled fennel)
This is not like any pizza I have had before. The dough is much lighter and softer, a fact most noticeable given how the weight of the chopped vegetables appeared on this platform. They were so heavy that they fell off the crust, not to mention that there was no cheese or much sauce holding any topping in place, that the dough was floppy to begin with. Taste wise, I liked the freshness and the quality of herbs used. But the flavours excelled with a perk up from the table side bottles of oregano and chilli infused olive oil.
915 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A 2V8, Canada
Finocchiona Pizza (tomato sauce, fennel sausage, provolone, parmesan, sweet pepper)
I preferred the pizza option from Pizzeria Farina, there are also vegetarian options/substitutions for this. The pizza is made to order and best enjoyed warm with melted cheese, chewy dough, and the sausage still sizzling from a thorough and even bake. Like a margherita pizza with the tomato, cheese, and basil; but with the added zest and pop from punchy sausage and peppers. This is a flavour I would crave again.
1029 W Cordova St, Vancouver, BC V6C 0B9, Canada
Spritz + Chips (made in-house with crispy herbs)
As this was the only restaurant to open after 5pm on a Sunday, and we had to return later for their appetizer of Spitz and chips, we decided to make a full meal of it. (That review would be in a future post to come.) But for now the chips were sliced up incredibly thin and fried light and airy. I found them over salted the more I ate, but the refreshing orangey zest of the bottled Aperol spritz was helpful in combating some of this excess saltiness.
In closing, this is such a fun way to discover some great Italian restaurants in the city. To try dishes you might not otherwise order and get a chance to win some amazing prices when you do. Take advantage of this reason to dine out tonight and collect them all. The promotion runs until September 21st, so start collecting, and when you have them all (like I do), tag @kitchentablegroup on IG to be entered to win the prizes mentioned above.