Tonight we were having dinner on the go with another edition of the Vancouver Foodster’s long running Tasting Plates. A multi course meal, served at multiple stops, usually within a geographical area or under a common theme. For example, today it was all about what is new and/or would be considered a hidden gem within the Kitsilano area. Four restaurants, 4 stops, 4 miniature meals, all within a 4 hours time range.
Each attendee is assigned a starting point in order to not overwhelm any one given restaurant. From there, you carve your own path from one restaurant to the next, sampling their prefixe menu curated for the event.
Our first stop was Local Pizzaiolo. Still under the Vera’s Burger awning, this was hard to find. Peering into the window the menu still lists burgers, but if you look past that and over to the pizza oven, you are reassured of your destination.
Once a catering company, Pizzaiolo has since joined Uber Eats and will be opening their dine-in concept soon. Amd as Tasting Plate diners we were getting a sneak peek.
We were generously given 3 slices of 3 very different pizzas. This was Neapolitan style pizza baked in the oven to order. Each super cheesy and generously topped. Each, complimentary to one another, yet unique on its own.
The Sweet & Spicy was my favourite with its very different Squash Cream Base topped with Spicy Nduja, Gorgonzola, Basil, Pecorino, and Mozzarella Cheese.
The ‘Shroom was for the mushroom lovers. A Porcini Cream Base topped with Mixed Mushroom, Mozzarella Cheese, Parsley, Parmesan, and Truffle Oil. There was no missing a mushroom in every bite, and the truffle was incredibly fragrant.
And the Italian Job was a classic spicy meat lovers with Italian Sausage, hearty with Roasted Potatoes, Smoked Provolone, and Mozzarella Cheese. The potatoes made it unique to Pizzaiolo and was a wonderful addition that helped balance out all the punchy flavours in the mix.
1925 Cornwall Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1C8
Located on the second floor of the classic Italian kitchen: Robba da Matti; Passaparola is their sister concept. They are the first burrata bar in Vancouver, and as you guessed it, they focus on fresh burrata. Burrata that they have paired with fine ingredients that Robba da Matti is already well known for.
The second-floor restaurant is designed with a poshed cocktail bar feel, the room is dark and moody. Here, drinks are at the forefront, but they do offer a limited list of snacks featuring burrata and a few stuffed cannelloni. The latter is what we were having today during our Tasting Plates adventure.
Guests had a choice between mushroom and spinach cannelloni, one that was a classic Bolognese, or their popular Lobster & Crab Cannelloni. My guest and I would share the latter two. There is no kitchen on the second floor, everything is premade and kept warm and then dressed to order. As a result, the food was good but being very familiar with the quality coming out of Robba da Matti’s kitchen, I could taste the difference in the pasta. The cannelloni shell was soggy and overcooked for both. They broke under the weight of the packed filling, and the sauce that sat and pool combined to form one uniform flavour. Not the best as it was, but forgiving with the right drink adjacent. At least the flavours of both were still there.
The Lobster Cannelloni was stuffed crab with lobster meat and served on a bed of arugula with a cherry tomato sauce. It was sweet from the crab and the tomatoes. With the distinct fishiness of seafood, I could have liked some citrus to help brighten up the serving.
I much more preferred the flavour of the Cannelloni Classici. Here, the cannelloni was stuffed with beef and cooked in a tomato sauce with creamy truffle, before being finished off with parmesan cheese. With the soften pasta with the tomato and beef reminded me of a lasagna and I was immediately comforted by it.
And seeing as we were already here, and that our tasting plate did not include it, we added on an order of one of their burrata small plates. If you are at a Burrata bar, you have to try the burrata. The Crostino Burrata & Melanzane features Burrata D.O.P. with grilled eggplant preserved in olive oil, served on crunchy toasted bread with fresh tomatoes. This was an interesting look and take, and completely not what either of us expected . My guest and I both imagined charred grilled eggplant, this was preserved eggplant that ate more like a salty radish, the texture was also a lot chewier and firm. It distracted from the luscious cheese that should have been the star. Not the best representation of the bar for sure.
Passaparola – Burrata Bar
1896 W 1st Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 4W2, Canada
Next we were on the move again. Bound for Casereccio Foods, the neighbourhood Italian cafe known for their in-house made pastas and small batch gelato, and beloved for their selection of both sweet and savoury pastries to go.
Here we got a mere glimmer of their pasta in our taster of two baked Conchiglioni. There are basically giant pasta shells, one was filled with white ragù meat, and the other with a red mushroom ragù. Each one bite that was tasty, but hard to be more discerning of, not being able to go back for more. A lovely teaser and worth revisiting with more time, as they pride themselves and preparing pasta using traditional machines that they proudly display.
Casereccio Foods Coffee/Pasta Bar
2480 Vine St, Vancouver, BC V6K 3K8, Canada
After 3 Italian tastings, we ended our night at Karma Indian Bistro for some Indian cuisine. Only 2 months old, the restaurant is new to the area, but the owner and staff are not new to the restaurant industry.
They prepared a full Indian meal at a quarter of the regular serving size. This included Pakora, Naan, Chana Masala, Butter Chicken, and even Gulab Jamun for dessert. This was an impressive gathering, and it gave me a great idea of the quality of their food and their ability to offer traditional cuisine their way. The butter chicken was creamy and sweet, but had enough spice to lean it more towards the savoury side. The airy naan was the perfect base to sop all the tasty sauce from it and the firm vegetable in spicy tomato. But the highlight was the green onion pakora, definitely the best I have had to date, so fragrant and crispy. Everything was delicious and I would easily recommend them for Indian in the area.
Karma Indian Bistro
2741 W 4th Ave Vancouver BC, V6K 1P9 Canada
In conclusion, this was another successful Tasting Plates hosted by the Vancouver Foodster. We tried new places and got tastes of that which we might not otherwise would order on our own. And in the process got to know the Kitsilano area a little better.