Vancouver’s La Pentola della Quercia

Many city’s hotel restaurants are mere afterthoughts, but Vancouver has beaten the rap of poorly done hotel dining and really brought us some gems. Think MARKET in the Shangri-La, Tableau at the Loden, Diva at The Metropolitan and now La Pentola della Quercia at the Opus. This newly opened North Italian-themed spot is sure to satisfy the cravings of traveling food lovers and already has locals raving about both the room and the dishes.

The hotel had seen a few pop-up restaurants before this fixture, but they’ve taken this permanent concept more seriously. The room has been updated with white wood-panelled walls and a refurbished Italian mosaic floor; modern light fixtures, leather chairs and red banquettes complete the look. There are several sections to the 88-seat restaurant, meaning many nooks and crannies to lounge in. It’s a welcoming space where you’ll stay a while.

This is the second spot for Chefs Adam Pegg and Lucais Syme; the first being La Quercia on Fourth Avenue. The original spot was voted not only Best Casual Italian and Best Informal, but also Restaurant of the Year at the 2011 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. Accolades were well-deserved and reservations there are scarce.

La Pentola della Quercia is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night, and this second concept continues on their path of greatness. A menu consists of both family-style dishes and also items to be ordered a la carte. We stopped in to try a delightful charcuterie plate, the ever-so-light Parmesan flan with a zucchini ribbon salad, a delicious cauliflower, endive, bagna cauda, and Parmesan dish and a made on the spot zuchette, the little hat pasta. The dish was perfectly cooked, holding its artful shape nicely. There’s also roast trout, a grand bistecca alla fiorentina (steak for two), osso bucco, a spectacular porcetta and lots of sides to be sampled such as roast potatoes, eggplant and rapini.

Those in for breakfast can choose Continental, a build-your-own with choices such as maple bacon, corned beef hash and eggs. Fuller dishes such as white beans, poached eggs and sausage or an omelette with hash browns and toast are also available. At lunch there is a good selection of antipasti, soup and salads, and a variety of paninis and pastas as well as a few main courses such as the pork scaloppini and flat iron steak.

The wine list will eventually feature mainly Italian and BC bottles, but does still have much of the inventory of the previous tenants, so look forward to some specials to move that out. And don’t worry about service here, it’s bang on as the team is led by restaurant veteran Nathalie Meyer, the former owner of Saveur on Thurlow. Saveur’s former chef and co-owner, Nathalie’s husband, Stephane, is in the kitchen giving this place a certain family feel.

322 Davie St., 604-642-0557

Image courtesy of alanymchan.

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