Restaurant: Yaletown L’Antipasto
Cuisine: Tapas/Italian/Wine Bar
Last visited: December 8, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Yaletown)
Address: 1127 Mainland St
Skytrain: Yaletown-Roundhouse Stn Northbound
Price Range: $20-30+ ($15-20 mains)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 2.5 - 3
Overall: 2.5 - 3
- Italian chef/cook
- Meat & Cheese
- Limited menu
- Couple pasta specials
- Neighbourhood feel
- Good wine list
- Patio seating
- Open late Thur-Sat.
- Breakfast: Mon-Fri.
- Lunch: Mon-Sat
- Dinner: Mon-Sat.
- Closed Sunday
**Recommendations: Antipasto platter, White Tuscan Beans
I came here when it was Chocoatl and then again when it was Eataly, but I missed the gelato shop prior to the welcoming of Yaletown L’Antipasto. It’s a tricky spot with a high turnover, but this is the new kid on the block and for once it’s not selling desserts.
I actually walked right by it because I didn’t think the new restaurant would be taking over this location. It’s a small space that’s tucked away on Mainland and it’s easily overlooked and missed. I don’t think I would have even noticed it with its small signage, but I had received an e-mail from the owners notifying me of its opening. Sherman (whom I have to thank for the awesome photos) received the same and he invited me to join him for dinner there.
To be honest I’m not much of a meat and cheese person, so I’m pretty biased since Yaletown L’Antipasto specializes in antipasto. It’s not just meat and cheese, but it’s generally cold appetizers and salads. Don’t get me wrong, I like this type of food, but it’s just hard for me to see the value in it when I can prepare something similar at home with a good supplier. However taking it for what it is, it’s not bad, but I wasn’t necessarily impressed because the food is almost too simple.
The meats aren’t cured in house, but they are carefully selected. It features a couple hot dishes, which are two daily pastas, and those are prepared by the co-owner’s mother who is Italian through and through. Crap! I almost wish I didn’t know that or see her making it, I get nervous when I know moms are in the kitchen.
Anyways, she does the cooking on a small stove top in the open kitchen, so the menu and potential for the food is quite limited considering the small space and cooking resources. Everything is quite basic, which is all they can really do, but at the same time it makes it hard to see the value even given the circumstances.
The restaurant is a very intimate space and I wouldn’t suggest it for groups or for dinner. It really is an antipasto kind of place just like the name suggest, and the word does mean “before a meal” after all. I just found it more enjoyable as a pre-dinner or after dinner place, or a place to catch up with a friend over a glass of wine on a weeknight, and that’s kind of what I did.
Despite having a full dinner and being full, I didn’t really feel satisfied which is quite common for me with this style of dining. In the end I was actually most impressed with the side of beans, and meat and cheese, even though the latter is not really my thing. However the wine was well paired and the selection was quite good.
Generally there was attention to the little details, but the big ones were a bit missed. I was hoping it would be Italian throughout the whole menu, which is how they present themselves, but there were some non-Italian wines and a non-Italian cheese. It may not seem like it looking at the menu, but it’s trying to do a lot with a limited space and kitchen. If it’s going to be a dinner place there are some rough spots that need smoothing out, so hopefully this is just the beginning. On the other hand I have a feeling the paninis they offer at lunch could be promising since the meat and cheeses are nice, and I would actually be more inclined to check that out.
On the table:
Mixed Olives - It was just a simple starter and they weren’t house marinated or anything. They were a bit soft, nice and salty, but good. In the area I do prefer the mixed olives at Cibo Trattoria & Uva Wine Bar based on variety and quality.
- House signature dish. A fine selection of imported deli meats & cheeses, served with marinated vegetables and toasted Ciabatta Bread $20
- Again I’m not really a meat and cheese person because it’s hard for me to see value in something I can prepare at home with a good supplier, but I do like it.
- For what it is, the price is fair for the size and quality of meats and cheeses.
- It only comes in a platter, and I really think they should offer it a la carte.
Wine pairings: Tolle Colle Secco Montepulciano, Italy and Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand
- I enjoyed it even more with the wine pairing suggestions, but again I was hoping for an all Italian wine list.
- I personally enjoyed the Tolle Colle Secco Montepulciano better with the meat and cheese selection.
- Meats – 3.5/6
Salame Milano, Salame Tipo Felino, Bone in Prosciutto San Daniele, Culatello
I’m not a salami person because I find them too fatty and greasy, so I gave mine to Sherman. I did eat some though and it was decent quality, but it’s not a cured meat I would choose.
The Culatello and Bone in Prosciutto San Daniele were quite mild, not that salty, and both very good. Not the best quality, but good quality.
The Prosciutto San Daniele is the darkest and a bit sweeter and authentically it is hand cut, which it was here.
- The Culatello is the highest quality of prosciutto and it’s the higher part of the leg from a larger pig.
Cheeses – 4/6
Ricotta Dura, Provolone Picante, Piave Stravecchio, Cabrales (doc)
There was a good selection of soft to hard cheeses, but the Cabrales (blue cheese) was from Northern Spain and I was hoping for all Italian cheeses.
I honestly loved each cheese, but for different reasons.
The Cabrales is a combination of cow’s, goat’s and sheep’s milk and it was most unique also being cured in caves. It was incredibly pungent and for real blue cheese lovers, but it wasn’t gamey or too salty. I haven’t come across it prior to this.
The Cabrales paired with the Tolle Colle Secco Montepulciano was heavenly for me.
- Marinated veggies: artichoke heart, cipollini onions, house roasted peppers, mixed olives (which weren’t as salty as the ones in the starter), and marinated sun dried tomatoes.
- Pasta of the day $14
- It’s one of the most basic and classic pastas from Rome and it was made authentically with unsmoked pork cheek (Guanciale) and not pancetta or bacon.
- The rigatoni was a dry pasta which I actually like, and it was nice and firm with a chew that stuck to your teeth.
- I think most people would find it undercooked, but it’s not.
- Italians traditionally cook their pastas under the 8min. mark and this was perfectly al dente.
- The pasta itself didn’t seem salted, but the sauce was salty enough so it ended up being okay.
- It was lightly coated in a house made tomato sauce that had a nice acidity, but I couldn’t taste the flavour of the pork infused into it.
- The sauce stuck onto the pasta well, but I was hoping for more fresh tomatoes, more pork cheek and some Pecorino Romano melted into the sauce for the price.
- It is a very simple homestyle pasta, but for what it was, it was good, authentic and made well.
- Pasta of the day $14
- This was the other pasta of the day and I can’t say I enjoyed the ravioli.
- I like to taste all the ingredients in the menu title, and I couldn’t really in this.
- The sauce was good and home made, but the Gorgonzola was very mild and the walnuts were nowhere to be seen or even tasted.
- I thought there would be some Gorgonzola in the sauce and toasted walnuts on top, but there wasn’t.
- The ravioli is from a supplier, which is fine, but I’m not keen on the product.
- I’ve actually purchased the same ravioli to make at home before. At home it’s quick and useable, but at a restaurant, I’m not sure.
- The filling is really pastey and thick and it just coats your whole mouth.
- I couldn’t taste any walnuts or much Gorgonzola in the filling so I wouldn’t recommend the ravioli.
- The sauce was very rich and creamy with bits of ricotta, and it had potential if it was made with a different pasta.
- White Italian cannelini beans, extra virgin olive oil & sage $10
- This was my highlight! They were delicious!
- However I think they’re overpriced and I thought they would be $8 at most.
- It was again simple, but it just felt like comfort food without being too heavy or rich.
- It was made from dry cannelini beans and they were nice and firm.
- It was almost like a creamy white bean stew made with good olive oil and it wasn’t too salty and very homestyle.
- There were some onions and garlic, but it wasn’t that garlicky in flavour.
- The only thing is that there were maybe two sage leaves so I wanted more because I couldn’t really taste it.
- Grass fed, dry-cured beef, arugula, mushrooms, shaved Parmiggiano $14
- They served the salad after the pastas which is the traditional Italian way and I appreciated that.
- The Bresaola was a nice quality and they were shaved well too.
- It was drizzled with good olive oil and lemon juice for acidity.
- It pretty much was what it was, but it was good for what it was.
- Simmered Veal Eye of Round, served cold with served cold with a creamy sea medley sauce $14
- I really like vitello tonato, but I don’t have much to compare to because it’s not very popular in Vancouver.
- It is easily overlooked because generally people don’t know what it is.
- It’s a traditional cold Italian dish and the veal slices taste almost exactly like tuna. They’re super tender, but it had that dry texture of flaked tuna.
- The veal is well done and coated in a creamy mayo-like tuna sauce and that’s why it tastes fishy and almost like mashed tuna patties.
- The sauce is comparable to a tuna based Caesar dressing with a bite of pureed capers and I would say it’s acquiredm sharp and pungent, but I really like it.
- It’s served on a bed of dry arugula, but there’s enough tuna sauce to dress it.
- La Quercia is also an excellent place to try this dish if it’s your first time.
- The desserts are all house made which I appreciate.
- I love tiramisu, but unfortunately this one was on the watery side and I couldn’t taste much mascarpone which is my pet peeve.
- I could taste some espresso, and not really any rum and the lady fingers were quite wet.
- I was hoping for the top to be sprinkled with bittersweet cocoa powder, but it almost seemed like hot chocolate powder.
- Overall this didn’t really work out for me.
- The panna cotta was home made that afternoon, but it hadn’t set yet.
- The flavour was good, although a bit sweet after a few bites, but it was almost like melted ice cream.
- The raspberry sauce gave it a nice tartness and I liked the vanilla bean seeds, so it had potential.