La Grotta Del Formaggio

La Grotta del Formaggio is a small Italian deli/grocery that’s located on The Drive. While they sell a variety of different imported good, they are probably best known for their sandwiches. You pick your bread, fillings, and condiments, and they’ll make your sandwich for you. I had a Small Bun with Proscuitto and a Half Focaccia with Porchetta, at least I asked for porchetta. The lady behind the counter seemed to be a bit hard of hearing, however, and gave me mortadella for the latter instead of porchetta. Oh well.

Small Bun with Prosciutto ($7.75):


4/5
I had the sandwich with pesto mayo, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, red peppers, edam cheese, red peppers and spinach. There was a large amount of proscuitto inside the sandwich, which was very salty and savoury. The bread was also quite thin and toasted and crispy.

Half Focaccia with Mortadella ($9.95):


3/5
I had the sandwich with chipotle mayo, red peppers, gouda cheese, red peppers and spinach. I asked for porchetta in my sandwich, but the lady was a little hard of hearing and gave me mortella instead. That was fine though, because the mortella was still quite tasty. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of the bread, which was a little too grainy for my taste.

I quite enjoyed my visit to Le Grotta del Formaggio. While I wasn’t a bit fan of the focaccia, which I found to be a bit dry and grainy, I really enjoyed the bun. The prices are a bit on the expensive side, but they do come with a generous amount of fillings, so I think it’s worth the price.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Sandwiches
La Grotta Del Formaggio Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cavo Bar + Kitchen

I’m always on the look out for some good chicken and waffles. In most cases, the waffles are usually good but the chicken not so great. Recently, I learned that Cavo Kitchen + Bar was serving the dish on their breakfast menu. I decided to check them out. They are a joint that’s located on Granville. In addition to their drinks, they have a fairly large food menu consisting of Mediterranean dishes and various comfort food. I had the aforementioned Chicken & Waffles.

Chicken and Waffles ($15):


4/5
This consisted of two small waffles and three generous pieces of chicken, and is served with syrup and honey mustard. The chicken was luckily dark meat, and were by virtue, tender and juicy. It was also pretty well seasoned and relatively crispy. I quite enjoyed the waffles, which were soft and chewy and filled with crunchy pearls of sugar; they also had a nice fragrance.

I was pleasantly surprised by how good the Chicken and Waffles at Cavo were: they are easily one of the better versions that I’ve had. The price is also very reasonable. I definitely recommend checking this joint out while they still have the dish on the menu.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Chicken and Waffles
Cavo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mercante

Ever since we started having lab meetings at noon, our PI started getting pizzas from Mercante so that the people wouldn’t have to sit through the meeting hungry. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any photos of the pizzas in the middle of the meeting since 1) the lighting was usually terrible and 2) I didn’t want my fellow colleagues to question why I was taking photos. Thus, I decided to head over to the joint myself to write my review. The spot specializes in wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, although they do also have some pastas and other desserts. I had their Tortellini and an Al Pesto Pizza.

Tortellini ($7.75):


3/5
This was in a cream sauce and is topped with parmesan. The pasta itself was a tad overcooked for me and didn’t appear to have much filling, and was a bit bland on its own. I did quite enjoy the sauce, which was creamy albeit a tad bit underseasoned.

Al Pesto Pizza ($12.50):


3.5/5
This was topped with pesto, prosciutto, cheese, artichokes, and tomatoes. The crust wasn’t very crispy, although it was thin and flavourful. There was a good amount of topping. The pesto was very flavourful, albeit a bit on the salty side; I really enjoyed the tomatoes, which provided a great tanginess. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of the artichokes.

Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of the pasta at Mercante, I really did enjoy their pizzas. The prices are quite reasonable. While this is not the best pizza joint that I’ve been to, but definitely a good choice if you’re on campus.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Al Pesto Pizza
Mercante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Trattoria Italian Kitchen – Kits

I’ve had pasta several times at different Italian restaurants. On every occasion, the waiter could come with parmesan, shave some over the dish and leave on their own. The staff I encountered at Tratorria was a bit different however. The aforementioned restaurant belongs to the Glowbal franchise and has a couple of locations in Metro Vancouver; I had the opportunity to visit their Kits location. Of course, being the cheap Asian I am, I visited on a Tuesday where they have all their pastas for just $13. Being the even cheaper Asian that I am, I ordered the most expensive pastas: Truffled Spaghetti & Signature Meatballs and Crab & Lobster Ravioli (even though I don’t really care for seafood, but it’s normally $25 so I’m saving more money). Once the dishes came out, one of the waiters came to bring me parmesan. I expected him to just shave the amount he thinks is acceptable and leave, but no, he just kept on shaving. And shaving. And shaving. My spaghetti was soon covered in a soft layer of parmesan, and I noticed the waiter glancing at me (while still shaving), and it finally dawned on me that he was waiting for me to tell him when to stop (I can be quite slow). I quickly told him to stop.

Truffled Spaghetti & Signature Meatballs ($24.95, $13 on Tuesdays):

 


3.5/5
This came with three good-sized meatballs and a dollop of truffle cream. The spaghetti itself was perfectly cooked to my personal liking, being tender while still retaining a good chew. The cream provided great richness and had a wonderful fragrance. The meatballs appear to be made from beef, and were quite tender and juicy; unfortunately, I did find them to be a tad underseasoned and bland.

Crab & Lobster Ravioli ($24.95, $13 on Tuesdays):

 


4/5
This came in a creamy tomato sauce. Again, the ravioli was cooked to my liking and contained a generous amount of filling, which was flavourful and very savoury (I’m not even a big seafood fan, and I still really enjoyed it). The sauce was also very flavourful and rich. The portion was a bit on the smaller side (the dish came with half a dozen in total); personally, I wouldn’t have paid for the full price.

I quite enjoyed the pastas at Trattorria. The prices were a bit on the higher side during regular days, but a great bargain during Tuesdays. The service was very good: the food comes out quite quickly, and the waiter I had was great (and didn’t seem to get mad at me for making him shave all that parmesan, or if he did, at least he didn’t show it). Definitely check this place out (and if you’re cheap like me, go on Tuesdays).

mde
Saved about $24 by going on Tuesday.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 3.5/5 (4/5 on Tuesdays)
Service: 4/5
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: Truffled Spaghetti & Signature Meatballs, Crab & Lobster Ravioli
Trattoria Italian Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bufala

I’ve really grown a greater appreciation for cheese over the number of years that I’ve been living in Canada. One cheese that I’ve heard quite a bit about but never had the opportunity to sample is burrata. That finally changed during my recent visit to Bufala. They are a pizza joint located on Blvd in Kerrisdale, just a couple of blocks away from 41st Avenue. They specializes in thin-crust Neapolitan-style pizzas, and also serve classic Italian appetizers and drinks. While I initially wanted their Meatballs, I really wanted to sample the Burrata, and ended up ordering that instead. I also had their Carbonara Pizza.

Burrata ($19):


3.5/5
This was served with roasted acorn squash and toasted sourdough. This is the first time that I’ve had burrata, so I don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like. The cheese was quite creamy, although a bit bland. The squash was tender and sweet; I do wish that they could have cut it into smaller pieces however as it was a bit hard to eat with the bread. I really enjoyed the bread, which was nicely toasted.

Carbonara Pizza ($19):


4/5
This came topped with pecorino, pancetta, and an egg. The crust was nice and crispy, and not bland. Although there didn’t look like there was much topping, it was actually very flavourful. It wa a bit on the salty side: I actually quite enjoyed it, but I think that it might be a bit too much for others.

While the burrata at Bufala wasn’t mindblowing, I’m very glad to have been finally able to sample it. I also really enjoyed their pies, which are some of the better ones that I’ve had, although I do think that some people might find the toppings to be a bit too salty. Service-wise, the food was prepared relatively quickly and the staff are friendly, but not overly attentive. All in all, I do consider this to be one of the better pizza joints that I’ve tried, and I’d recommend visiting if you like Neapolitan-style pies.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Carbonara Pizza
Bufala Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Martinis

A long time ago, when I was still in highschool, I went to Martinis for one of my friends’ birthdays. I had their Veal Parmesan on that occasion, and was completely taken aback when the dish ended up getting the better of me (I couldn’t finish it and I had an even bigger appetite then than I do now). Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one: all of my friends had trouble finishing their dishes, one of whom apparently got full on a calamari appetizer that we all shared and a side salad.

I decided to revisit this place recently. In spite of all the years that passed, the menu appears to have remained the same, consisting of a large selection of Italian/Greek/Mediterranean dishes and pizzas. They also have a menu of lunch specials. While I was tempted to reorder the Veal Parmesan to see whether I could conquer it this time, I was tempted by their lunch specials, and ended up ordering their Breaded Veal Cutlets. I also had their Chicken Tortellini Alfredo after hearing good reviews about the dish from other reviewers. The dishes were served with a side of daily soup and salad respectively; these dishes came out right away while the main dishes themselves took a bit longer (probably 20+ minutes) to arrive.

dav
Lunch specials

Chicken Tortellini Alfredo ($17):


3.5/5
This consisted of spinach & cheese tortellini with chicken breast and red peppers, and is served with salad and garlic bread. The chicken was pretty tender for white meat and well seasoned, while the tortellini was well-cooked, being tender while still retaining some chew. I did find it to be a bit bland however, and the sauce, while creamy, was also a bit underseasoned for my taste. The salad was quite fresh and contained pieces of pineapple. I absolutely loved their garlic bread: they give you a thick slide that’s nicely toasted and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.

Lunch Breaded Veal Cutlets ($10.75):


3.5/5
This was served with your choice of fries or salad (I had fries), and a daily soup. The portion for this was very impressive for the price: they give you two generous slices of veal. The meat itself had a nice crispy coating, although I did find it to be a tad underseasoned and slightly chewy/grisly in some parts. The fries were hot, fresh and crispy. The soup I had was some kind of curry vegetable with rice.

Although I wasn’t able to get revenge on the Veal Parmesan, I’m glad to have gotten their Lunch Breaded Veal Cutlets: the dish was quite tasty, and I thought that it was a great deal for the price and portion. I did find the main dishes to take a bit long to arrive, and the server I had, while attentive, was not the friendliest. In spite of the shortcomings however, I did really enjoy, I did still really enjoy my visit to Martinis, and would highly recommend checking it out.

mde
If the Church of Pizza is looking for recruits to spread their word, please call me up.

Summary
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Lunch Breaded Veal Cutlets
Martini's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Marcello Ristorante & Pizzeria

My latest new obsession is gnocchi. Ever since having tried it at Basil Pasta Bar, I’ve seriously developed a love for this dish and will order it whenever its available on a menu. Thus, after seeing pictures of the Gnocchi Ai Quattro Formaggi from Marcello Pizzeria, a dish consisting of the aforementioned pasta baked in a four-cheese sauce, I knew that I had to check the place out. The restaurant is one of a number of casual Italian joints located on The Drive. They have a nice space inside, including an open kitchen where you can see their chefs making Neopolitan-style pizza. Since the latter appears to be their specialty (not to mention that I love pizza), I decided to also get a Medium Ai Due Formaggi Pizza in addition to the aforementioned Gnocchi Ai Quattro Formaggi.

Medium Ai Due Formaggi Pizza ($14.95):


3.5/5
This contained tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, salame, baking cheese, and mushrooms. The texture of the crust was quite good, and was very crispy. There was a good amount of toppings at the centre, which were very flavourful. I particularly enjoyed the large blobs of cheese, which although messy to eat, was very rich and flavourful. The edges were less enjoyable however: I found the crust to be completely bland, as if they did not use any salt or other seasoning.

Gnocchi Ai Quattro Formaggi ($16.95):


4/5
This contains gnocchi that is baked in a four-cheese sauce. The cheese sauce was very rich and creamy, and had a wonderful pungent flavour (I think they probably had gorgonzola as one of the cheeses). The gnocchi itself had a nice tender texture, and is well-seasoned and tasty on its own. The dish is served piping hot, so be a bit careful when eating: I actually burned my mouth a bit during my first few bites.

I visited Marcello Pizza for their gnocchi, and I was not disappointed. Their pizza is also fairly good, although I did struggle a bit with their strangely bland crust. The service could be improved however; while the staff were quite welcoming, they were a bit disorganized. I noticed them getting confused/mixed up by orders, and I did have to wait for almost 30 minutes to get my pizza. All in all, this isn’t a bad restaurant, but not one that I’d necessarily return to either.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 3.5/5
Service: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Gnocchi Ai Quattro Formaggi
Marcello Pizzeria & Restaurants Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pacifico Pizzeria & Ristorante (Smithe)

I’m both a pervert and quite immature. Thus, when I saw some mildly erotic paintings on the bathroom doors of a restaurant, I really could not resist but take a few photos….

If you’re wondering where you can find these paintings, they are at Pacifico Pizza & Restaurante. The latter is an Italian joint with two locations, one on Davie and the other on Smithe. I visited their Smithe location during lunchtime, where they served lunch specials that comes with a choice of a salad or soup. I got their 10″ The Gorgon Pizzetta and their Gnocchi Rosa. Unfortunately, they were out of soup during the day that I visited, so I ended up going with their two salads (Caesar and Giardino; yes, I actually ate salads – two in fact).

10″ Specialty Pizzetta (The Gorgon, Caesar Salad, $15.95):


4/5
The pizzas that they serve at the Neapolitan wood-fired variety. I could really taste the gorgonzola, which had a nice strong pungent flavour (in a good way) as well as tanginess and richness. The salami also provided a great saltiness and spice, while the mushrooms had a great fragrance. The pizza crust was also very good, and was quite crispy, and nice and cruncy around the edges. The accompanying Caesar salad was standard, but fresh, and came in a fairly large bowl.

Gnocchi Rosa (Giardino Salad, $13.95):


4/5
The gnocchi was soft and slightly chewy, and had a nice savoury flavour to them. They were covered in a tangy, but creamy and flavourful tomato sauce. I was somewhat disappointed by the portion size however; it was quite small and more of a side dish for me than an actual meal. The Giardino salad was fresh, and came with a nice oily dressing.

Although I’m quite disappointed about being ‘forced’ to eat my arch nemesis (aka salad), I did quite enjoy the rest of their food. The prices that they have for their lunch specials are fairly reasonable (although I do find their pasta portions to be pretty small). The service seems to vary: the lady I got was a bit stiff and inattentive, but some of the other servers appear to be more friendly. All in all, I’d recommend checking this restaurant out for their erotic bathroom art tasty Italian food.

Summary:
Food: 4/5
Price: 4/5
Service: 3.5/5
Overall: 4/5
Recommendations: The Gorgon Pizza, Gnocchi Rosa
Pacifico Pizzeria Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Toscani Coffee Bar

My recent visit to Renzo’s Cafe was a bit of a bust (something that I should be used to by now): they did not have any of the gorgeous cakes that I’ve seen in the past and I had to resort to getting a goddamn gluten free vanilla cake (although to be honest, that didn’t taste too bad). During my visit to the place, I happened to pass by another cafe called Toscani Coffee Bar and decided to check the place out. They have a pretty good selection of various casual bites, including a few cakes. I got a White Chocolate Raspberry Biscotti, Tiramisu, and Limoncello Cake.

White Chocolate Raspberry Biscotti ($3.50):

dav
White Chocolate Biscotti

3/5
The cookie seemed to be a bit old, and had a slightly stale flavour and was not as crispy as I would have liked. It was still fairly tasty however, and had a nice fragrance, as well as a good flavour from the white chocolate icing. Strangely, I did not get any raspberry flavour however, even though I could clearly see a layer of it.

Tiramisu ($5):


4/5
I love tiramisu, and this version did not disappoint. The cake was just light and soft, while the layers of cream/mousse were absolutely luscious. It had a great fragrance of coffee, and a wonderful balance between bitter and sweet. This may not traditional in that there were no ladyfingers, but it is delicious nonetheless.

Limoncello Cake ($5):


3.5/5
The cake was soft and light, and had a great tang from the layer of limoncello jelly. I enjoyed the white chocolate, which lent a nice fragrance and went well with the citrus. It did seem to be a bit old however, and tasted slightly stale.

I’m glad to have checked out Toscani Coffee Bar. The treats were all fairly enjoyable, although I did find some of the fare to be a bit old/stale. While this isn’t a place that I’d revisit, it is worth checking out if you happen to be near the area.

Summary:
Food: 3.5/5
Price: 4/5
Service: N/A
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Tiramisu
Abruzzo Capuccino Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sopra Sotto

I love pizza in all its forms. I love thicker Greek-style pizza, and I love thinner, New York-style Pizza. I have never, however, tried neapolitan-style wood fire pizza before. This style of pizza appears to have gained quite some popularity over the past number of years, and there are quite a few places in Vancouver offering this variety. To sample my first neapolitan-style pizza, I decided to check out Sopra Sotto, a (relatively) newly opened Italian restaruant on The Drive. During my visit, I got their Porchetta E Friarelli Pizza, as well as Maccheroni Al Forno.

Porchetta E Friarelli Pizza ($18):

dav
Porchetta E Friarelli Pizza


3.5/5
This came topped with porchetta, rabe, and mozzarella cheese. This was the first time that I’ve had Neapolitan-style pizza, so I’m certainly not an expert on the dish. I will have to admit, however, that I was a tad disappointed in the pizza. I found the crust to be a bit soggy, although the edges were quite crispy and light. More importantly however, I did find it to be a little bland. The porchetta is the standout of the dish: it was tender, juicy and well-seasoned, and was what made the pizza enjoyable.

Maccheroni Al Forno + Crispy Speck ($17 + $3):


2.5/5
The macaroni was al dente and just a tad too hard for my personal taste, although I think that it’s still fairly reasonable. I did like the thick creamy sauce and cheeses in the dish, as well as the mushrooms, which provided a nice flavour. Unfortunately though, the dish was just completely underseasoned to me, and was bland. Even with the addition of the speck, I found it to be too bland to be enjoyable. The portion was also very small, more like a side dish than a main.

My experience at Sopra Sotto was both good and bad. I was a bit underwhelmed by their food, which was underseasoned and bland; moreover, I found their pasta portion to be quite small and not worth the price. Their porchetta was very tasty however. More importantly though, I was very impressed by their service. I had a wonderful server (I think his name was Sean) who was incredibly friendly and welcoming, and was incredibly attentive in spite of attending to several tables. All in all, while I do think that the food can do with some improvement, the service has really left a great impression on me. I really hope that this place sticks around.

Summary:
Food: 3/5
Price: 2.5/5
Service: 4.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5
Recommendations: Porchetta (they have an appetizer, a pizza, and apparently a sandwich during lunch time).
Sopra Sotto Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato