Q4 – (Quattro) Italian Restaurant

Restaurant: Q4
Cuisine: Italian
Last visited: July 16, 2010
Location: Vancouver, BC (Kitsilano)
Address: 2611 W 4th Ave
Price Range: $50+

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 4
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 5.5
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Contemporary Italian
  • Chef Bradford Ellis
  • Extensive wine list – famous wine list
  • Fine dining Italian
  • Fresh ingredients and flavours
  • Romantic, intimate, cozy
  • Monday & Tuesday $10 pasta night
  • Pizza recently added to menu
  • Seats 80+
  • Outdoor patio dining
  • Dinner service only
  • Sun-Thurs 5-10pm
  • Fri-Sat 5-11pm
  • Closed Sunday
  • Zagat Rated restaurant
  • 3 locations
  • Dessert post

**Recommendations: Family style sharing, anitpasti platter, Radicchio Bocconcini, Spaghetti Quattro, Dessert Platter: Ciliege Filate, Molten chocolate lava brownie, Tiramisu, vanilla bean creme brulee

Quattro Restaurant, widely known as Q4 is one of Vancouver’s most famous fine dining Italian restaurants. It’s been nominated numerous times for “Vancouver’s best Italian restaurant” by Vancouver Magazine. It has 3 locations, Whistler, North Vancouver and the one I visited on West 4th in Kitsilano. Q4 has been in operation for over 10 years and specializes in contemporary Italian cuisine in a luxurious dark wood atmosphere. Chef Bradford Ellis has been the chef at Q4 for 10 years and he adds his own West Coast twists to classic Italian dishes.

The location is a bit odd, and from the outside you wouldn’t even notice that there’s a restaurant. It’s a real hidden gem and being on a main street the trees and bushes help make it more intimate. It reminds of of Il Giordino and Kettle of Fish in downtown Vancouver where the restaurant has a gorgeous secret garden like atmosphere.

I don’t know if I would consider it the best fine dining Italian restaurant in Vancouver because to say that I would need to try all the restaurants that would compete with Q4, and I haven’t. However, I do think the food was good and I think it comes off as reliable, but I also think that it could be better. The quality of food is high and the ingredients are fresh so it’s no doubt that they would keep a loyal clientele, but I think there are things that could be improved. Q4 is an intimate restaurant but highly encourages family style dining in the sense that a lot of food can be prepared in platters or shared plates. It also has a bible of  wines, a world-renowned wine list, so I would highly recommend Q4 to wine lovers.

Although it is a fine dining restaurant with steep prices, Q4 does offer $10 pasta nights every Monday and Tuesday. However the pastas offered are different pastas from their regular menu. They just introduced firewood oven baked pizzas to the menu so it seems as though they are trying to hit a wider market by becoming more affordable.

Added note: I was invited to review Q4 Restaurant as Follow Me Foodie, so therefore I cannot comment on the service I received that night. The food was complimentary, however I accepted the invite based on the fact that there were no expectations from Q4 for the outcome of my review. They were very understanding and cooperative. I was able to sample several dishes, so some of the portions I received may be smaller or slightly different – which I will note.

On the table:

Complimentary Bread

  • Served with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.
  • The bread is not made in house, and for those familiar with me, yes that does bother me especially for a restaurant of this caliber.
  • The bread is served room temperature and it’s quite crusty with a chewy inside.
  • I was actually quite disappointed with the quality of balsamic vinegar and olive oil used just because neither were rich in flavour.
  • Coming in to a fine dining Italian restaurant I expect the attention to fine detail and for the basics to be there.

Procescco – sparking wine, a perfect way to start any Italian dinner.

**Antipasti Platter 5.5/6

  • Grilled prawn, grilled chorizo, Arancini di Riso (crab cake), Radicchio Bocconcini, artichoke puree crostini, sauteed balsamic mushrooms, olive, smoked salmon, salami, prosciutto, caper berry, artichoke salad, and white bean salad $19.95/person (Minimum 2)
  • This is not on the menu and available only through word of mouth, but their really good at promoting it to every table.
  • This was a fabulous antipasti platter and was one of the highlights of dinner for sure.
  • It was a great sampler platter of cold appetizers with 10+ varieties of antipasti.
  • Nothing was overly dressed and I liked that the chef’s creations weren’t too salty because the platter had a perfect balance of salty bites and  mild accompaniments. Great ratio of meat and vegetables.
  • The only things I wanted to see on the platter was fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil leaves and squid. Even if they replaced the prawn with the squid that would be great. That would have made an ultimate Italian anitpasti platter.

  • **Radicchio Bocconcini 6/6
    • Grilled fresh radicchio-wrapped mozzarella and prosciutto in a cherry vinaigrette. (Dark purple package in between the bread sticks)
    • I guess I did get the cheese here and I love this even more thinking back to it. It’s one of their house specialties and they’re available separately for $12.95 as well.
    • It was bitter from the radicchio, tangy, sweet from the vinaigrette with a salty bite from the prosciutto. The bocconcini was not melted and very fresh and spongy yet firm. It had great texture and hits your palette with all the right flavours. It was a pocket of deliciousness and the cherry vinaigrette tastes like a sweet honey glaze with a slight tang and tartness. Bitter never tasted so good!

  • **Arancini di Riso 5/6
    • Dungeness crab and Arborio rice croquetta with a caper and lemon aioli served with a shaved fennel salad.
    • Also offered separately as an appetizer for $14.95
    • This was also a hit. It wasn’t so much a croquetta as much as it was a crab cake with a very crispy Arborio rice shell. It was more crab than rice which I loved and it was matched with a lemon caper dressing.
    • The aioli was made with some flattened capers so the flavour wasn’t too strong and it didn’t overpower the crab cake. I actually would have preferred a lighter aioli though because it was very thick and almost like tartar sauce.
    • The arancini di riso was quite creamy and it’s quite a heavy appetizer, but it was only half a croquetta per person on the platter.

  • Artichoke Puree Crostini5.5/6
    • Topped with a fire roasted plump tomato and fresh Parmesan cheese. This was a creamy artichoke puree spread on a crostini and it was the perfect summer appetizer. The tomato was the juiciest tomato ever and it was so flavourful with a salty bite of Parmesan at the end. Simply delicious.

  • I loved the white bean salad! It tasted exactly like a potato salad, but made with white beans. It was very lightly dressed in a mustard seed vinaigrette and it was perfect. The grilled prawn was very fresh, crunchy and lightly seasoned. The prosciutto wasn’t as salty as I expected and it was slightly gamey in taste. The salami was very fatty and I could really taste the pure fat, which I didn’t like. The smoked salmon was unexpected, but a nice West Coast flavour and the caper berry and olives were great salty bites to a gourmet antipasti platter. The chorizo wasn’t made in house and it was quite smoky with a spicy ending. However when it comes to Italian sausage I prefer Vita Bella’s Zampina. The mushroom salad was lightly sauteed in vinaigrette and it was juicy in mushroom sweetness and not in vinegar which I liked. The middle was an ample amount of simple artichoke salad and there must have been at least 15+ artichoke hearts.

Prosciutto di Parma Pizza2/6

  • Prosciutto, Parmesan and arugula pizza $14
  • This is a new thing that they’re bringing to the menu. It’s their firewood oven baked pizzas… and it didn’t do anything for me. I would rather come here and order their pastas and appetizers.

  • All I could taste was the arugula and it overpowered the prosciutto, which only a small slice per piece. It’s a classic Italian pizza, but overall it was executed very dry and it tasted dry. When I mentioned it they suggested drizzling olive oil over top, the olive oil was more flavourful than what was served with the complimentary bread too. It helped a little bit, but that’s about it. I think it might have been better if the prosciutto was fresh rather than like bacon… ?
  • I had to take the fresh Parmesan from the other slices to finish off my piece because I wanted more flavour besides the peppery arugula.

The crust was thin, but also very chewy and tiresome to eat and I couldn’t cut through it with my knife.

The leopard spotting or leoparding on the bottom wasn’t too great for a fire wood oven and it was missing that crispiness and firewood charred flavour.

Ravioli Piemontese 4.5/6

  • Ravioli filled with wild mushrooms, Mascarpone cheese and white truffle oil, in a light porcini cream $22.95
  • I had a sample portion, but it usually comes with 7 pieces of ravioli on the regular menu.
  • When it comes to a mushroom ravioli or a mushroom pasta, I can’t think of many other places in Vancouver that do it like this. Lupo Restaurant and Vinoteca does a wild mushroom risotto, but this mushroom ravioli was much better.
  • This is for real mushroom lovers and it’s very intense in mushroom flavour. It smells crazy good and the white truffle oil is so strong. It’s basically mushrooms and cheese, I love mushrooms so I enjoyed this.

  • The ravioli was made in house and they’re perfectly cooked to al dente, slightly firm. They’re nicely stuffed with mushrooms and at first I was surprised to find  the stuffing made with basically pure mushrooms and no real filler. I liked this though because the sauce was rich and creamy enough that it would have been too much if it was a hearty mushroom stuffing.
  • It was topped with a porcini mushroom cream sauce that was like a pure mushroom gravy made with dried mushrooms. From the texture it was obvious that they were dried mushrooms, which gave it an even stronger mushroom flavour, but also firmer and slightly crunchier texture.
  • It’s heavy so 7 pieces will do just fine, but I would highly recommend to do this with a share plate of a lighter pasta. I would have liked some crispy sage to be served on top just to add another level of flavour besides mushrooms.

**Spaghetti Quattro 4.5/6

  • For Italians only $17.95
  • This is their signature pasta. Mine is a sample size, I saw the regular portion come out and it was very generous. It looked like it was enough for 2.
  • It’s minced chicken, black beans, chili and lots and lots and lots of garlic with some freshly chopped parsley.
  • This is a spicy olive oil based pasta and it has quite the kick. There’s a little hint of chili and TONS of garlic so the spiciness comes on 2 different levels. The garlic was very fresh but I wish half of the garlic used was cooked for longer until it became almost nutty in flavour. That would have made it even better.

  • The predominant flavours were garlic, chili, and the fresh parsley. I actually couldn’t even tell there was chicken and I liked the concept of using minced chicken, but I just couldn’t taste it at all. The only thing the minced chicken brought to the table was a soft and tender texture. The black beans were unexpected and a very fresh idea that I liked.
  • The bottom of the pasta was the best part because that’s where all the sauce, garlic and ingredients just soaked. This usually means it just needed to be more salty and I think if they seasoned the chicken with freshly cracked black pepper and salt that would have done it.
  • It was easily dressed and the olive oil was completely infused with dried chili and fresh garlic so the spice really shines through. Because it was spicy and almost smoky in flavour, the saltiness just needed to come up a level otherwise all the ingredients were kind of covered with one note. As odd as this may sound, the flavour actually reminded me of garlic Alaskan king crab legs from Chinese restaurants.
  • I would come back for this, but I would prefer the duck fumante pasta at Vita Bella Ristorante… but that’s apples and oranges.

Branzino alla Crosta 3.5/6 (as sample)

  • Pistachio crusted wild Alaskan black cod with a fire roasted pepper sauce $32.95
  • This is a sample portion. As a sample I think it’s a 3/6, but as an entire dish I can’t say since it’s not how it’s normally served. Therefore I can’t rate it since it was missing the components to how its usually served. I think it would have been better as a full portion because the sauce was meant more for a starch than for the fish.
  • The regular portion has a piece of cod double in size and it also comes with something that looked like a fried Arborio rice patty. I saw someone else order it and the portion looked decent.
  • This dish is right up my ally and I was very excited to try it. It was good, but also not amazing and it could have been much better. It was a very sweet dish overall with sweet ingredients and sauces.
  • I just really wish that the pistachio crust was crispy and perhaps saltier to contrast the sweet red pepper sauce. It was more like a pistachio paste, and although I could see the ground pistachios, I couldn’t taste them on the cod. I feel like they were combined with bread crumbs, which is okay but the nuts just needed to be toasted more to stand out. I would actually mix the pistachio crumbs with Parmesan cheese and that would make a saltier and more flavorful crust. It would be easier to crisp up too.

  • On the other hand, this was perhaps the juiciest black cod I’ve ever had. It was so juicy and moist and just so fatty and delicious. It was a beautiful filet and the quality was really top notch.
  • I thought the red pepper sauce was good, but also forgettable. It added a sweetness to the fish but I think it would have done more for a starch. The fish was just so naturally flavorful and perfectly cooked that I didn’t even need sauce with it. It was naturally buttery and falling apart with the touch of my fork.

  • Although the pistachio and sauce didn’t do as much for the cod, it was absoluteness delicious with the julienne salad. It was a warm salad of julienne carrots, red peppers and red onions. They were high in sugar vegetables that still had a crunchiness to them. The red onions were pretty caramelized though. I mixed the pistachio crust and red pepper sauce into and it was awesome! The pistachios really stood out if I mixed them in the salad and it was the best combination of flavours.

Galletto al Mattone 3/6 (as sample)

  • Marinated de-boned Cornish game hen grilled with Riviera herbs, garlic and peperoncino served with creamy herb polenta $29.95
  • This is a sample portion. It’s one of their house specialties and chef’s special creations. I wanted to make sure I tried a seafood dish and a meat dish.
  • To be honest I have higher hopes for it if I got it served as a full portion. I think the creamy herb polenta would have made a positive difference and made it more special because I found it quite ordinary for fine dining.

  • It tastes like duck confit, but made with hen, which is a pretty chicken 🙂 … no I’m kidding, but it’s actually a baby chicken.
  • The skin was quite crispy, but not as crispy as duck confit, which is a classic French dish. It’s where the duck is cooked in it own fat and rubbed with salt and garlic, canned and preserved until ready to eat. A great duck confit is at Tapastree. This Galletto al Mattone tastes like it was made with the same execution.
  • Galletto al Mattone is an age old traditional Italian dish and it’s when a baby chicken is grilled under a brick. Literally. The chicken is marinated in an intense brine of salt, spices and other dried herbs. It’s then placed on a grill with the skin on and a brick is literally place on top, it is later repeated on the other side. The reasoning behind the “under a brick” cooking method is to create an ultra crispy skin with very juicy meat. I’m not sure if they literally use a brick at Q4, but they probably use a heavy cast iron skillet to press it down.
  • The meat was succulent and juicy and actually quite salty throughout with a hint of pepper taste. The skin was quite crispy, but only at parts and I wish I could have tasted more garlic and dried herb flavour.
  • It’s served with a tangy lemon sauce and I wanted more of it. It made the hen taste so much better, but I felt like they only used it as decor around the plate. In this case, the sauce enhanced the meat itself and I liked dipping my potatoes in it as well. It was served with very sauteed veggies and roast potatoes that were dry, but very buttery in flavour.
  • CinCin Restaurant also does Galletto al Mattone, but I haven’t tried it yet so I have nothing to compare to.


I’m making you wait! The dessert post is tomorrow… because I’m such a tease 😉

Dessert post here.


Q4 on Urbanspoon


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