Vancouver - Downtown Italian restaurant reccs, please

We have a couple of nights in the city prior to a cruise. One of us is celebrating a birthday and would like Italian food that evening. We’re staying at the Sandman City Centre and, looking at restaurants near by, my shortlist is below. Any thoughts to help me pick one, please.

Il Nido
Cibo Trattoria
Al Porto
Italian Kitchen.

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I haven’t dined in Vancouver in 12 years.
Based on my knowledge of navigating Canadian Yelp/Google restaurant reviews, if I’m visiting a restaurant I’ve never been to, I look for a rating higher than 4 on Google/Yelp, preferably 4.5, since even mediocre chain restaurants will receive 4s. I also check the reviews on OpenTable and the restaurant websites.

Out of these 5, I would choose Cioppino’s (4.6 Google rating, when the others were lower) or Italian Kitchen.

Both are located in Yaletown.
Yaletown is a highrise condominium neighborhood with a very modern feeling. It was built in the late 90s.
If you are willing to travel further, there are some other Italian restaurants that would be moreup my alley.

It looks like Autostrada Downtown near Gastown is rated as highly as Cioppino’s, and maybe is a little closer. This is Autostrada Downtown (different than Main St location which is further away)

Lupo also looks like a good option- it is quite close to your hotel.

I’m attaching a screenshot for my Google map search for Italian restaurants scoring over 4.5 on
Google, with your hotel location marked with the blue pin. Lupo is the restaurant marked in red nearest to your hotel, with no label.

Sorry to add more choices. I would probably choose in the order of Autostrada Downtown, Lupo, Cioppino’s, Italian Kitchen.

Have you dined in San Francisco? If you like tomato- based seafood stews, and have not tried Cioppino, that might be something of interest. That said, it is an iconic dish for San Francisco, not Vancouver
A quarter of my extended family lives in the Bay area, and I’m a bit of a cioppino snob as a result.
I usually focus on crab if I can find it, and salmon, when visiting Vancouver.

Autostrada is included in this top 10 published on Xmas

This is the newest Italian spot getting attention. It on Commercial Drive, where the small Little Italy is located. It is a more socio economically mixed neighborhood .

Thanks, prima. Much as I like the look of Autostrada, I wasnt convinced that a place where main courses are restricted to just a handful of pasta dishes was quite celebratory enough. But I’ll add it to the list for the “birthday girl” to decide.

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I can understand that. I tend to gravitate towards places that have veal scallopine (specifically al limone) as an option. I’d say 90 percent of Italian restaurants in Canada focus on pastas and pizzas as main courses.

I get the impression the pastas can be primi, and the mains such as the bistecca, whole fish, etc can be shared at Osteria Autostrada . But those 3 main course options may seem a little boring.

In Canada, it is fairly common for pasta servings to be large enough for a main. But the fancier Italian spots will make their pasta portions the proper primi size, to come before the main. Sometimes I share the primi-size pasta or risotto with my DC before a shared main.

Oca Pastaficio, the new pasta place on Commercial Drive certainly is pasta-centric. The menu changes daily, so probably not the right choice if you are trying to plan your menu.

The 2 newspaper reviews I found re Lupo are from 2010 and 2011, so I didn’t bother posting them.
I’ll post the Lupo menu for reference.

Good luck with finding the right spot for the birthday girl.

Italian Kitchen is owned by Glowbal Group. I haven’t tried their restaurants, but I would think they have a similar approach to the corporately owned upscale resto groups that exist in Calgary and Toronto. Probably a beautiful space, probably good food, but not likely to be a cozy or Mom & Pop-type Italian resto experience.

Oh, me too!

The birthday girl (Mrs H’s sister) eats seafood but not meat and is fussy even about that so it’s always tricky finding a menu which I think may suit.

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I think Cioppino’s is the way to go, with a mostly seafood eater.

Seems we always cater to the fussy family members when they visit us in Canada, or when we visit them.

Cioppino’s is the way we’re going. The SiL had been leaning towards there and your guidance helped tip the balance. Many thanks. I’ll certainly be ordering the cioppino - it’ll be a new dish. Exciting!


I’m glad whatever I could add helped. Hope you enjoy the Cioppino and the restaurant experience :slight_smile: I hope the birthday girl is happy with her dinner, too.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold