Nothing comforts me the way pasta does. I dream on beds made of dough; I float on clouds shaped like tortellini. I’m not sure if it’s the general appeal of carbs, the versatility of the shapes and sizes, or the perfect richness of the sauces that accompany, but to me, the ultimate meal is a pasta dish. My cravings for pasta only intensify in the winter months, and with the collective anxiety surrounding the pandemic, the need for comfort food seems even more frequent these days.
Some of the most delectable pasta offerings can be found in Vancouver. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular spots and some hidden gems in the city.
A storybook dinner.
Spot the namesake illustrated “wise fox” in this esteemed East Vancouver restaurant while trying its fresh handmade pasta in inviting variations: spaghetti integrale in duck ragu, squash and ricotta cappelletti, or a rich oxtail straccotto with rigatoni.
New York nostalgia.
A more laid-back sibling to Savio Volpe (compare the wolf to the namesake mouse), Pepino’s is a cozy staple on the Drive for hearty dishes reminiscent of the classic New York spaghetti house. Here, the time-honoured dishes stand out: spaghetti and meatballs or spaghetti bolognese are the ultimate comforts.
For a taste of everything.
Yaletown’s newest Italian spot Tutto encourages diners to live up to its name and try a bit of it all, from the squid ink spaghetti to the pork and fennel sausage ragout with casarecce.
Famous for generous portions, this beloved Railtown spot offers family-style dining in true Italian fashion. Pasta dishes (available as gluten-free varieties, too) are served in the middle of the table for sharing, which means you can order a few different plates to try out—such as the pappardelle in wild boar ragu or the squid ink spaghetti and clams.
For the unpretentious.
Tucked above the Cactus Club on Robson Street, Zefferelli’s prides itself on being an authentic pasta joint sans pretention. Expect a warm atmosphere and large portions, whether it’s the linguine puttanesca or the classic spaghetti ragu.
For a plant-based option.
Newly opened in Chinatown, MILA is the city’s latest go-to plant-based restaurant, and good news: it has a hearty mushroom and sausage tagliatelle that would fool even the most stringent meat-eater.
Romantic and quiet.
Perhaps the West End’s best open secret is Robba da Matti: a quiet spot on residential Haro Street with a tea-light-adorned patio and elegant dishes such as spaghetti allo scoglio or “spaghetti from the coastline,” a Venetian dish that brings together fresh flavours from the sea: clams, mussels, calamari, tiger prawns, and scallops. In addition to the original Yaletown location, the restaurant will soon open a third outpost in Gastown.
For future reference.
With plans to open later this year in Coal Harbour, NOX will offer Italian dishes with a West Coast flare: local and seasonal ingredients will be at the core of the recipes, and all pasta will be made in-house.
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