Best Italian Comfort Food in Vancouver

With a rather tempestuous summer so far (and a few too many grey days), our minds turned to cozying up with a glass of vino and flavourful plate of pasta…

We’ve (happily) sleuthed around the city in search of our comfort food picks – Italiano-style – and came up with these notable eateries.

This prime West End location was previously home to the beloved Tapastree and underwent extensive renovations this past Fall – reopening as a casual Italian eatery. Anchored by a common long wood ‘tavola’ (or table), this spot, simply put, exudes the perfect balance between chic and comfort – which extends to the service, food, and atmosphere overall.

The menu, though short and sweet, is expertly stocked with fresh and inspired takes on traditional Italian dishes to tuck into (the house made rigatoni with Italian sausage and black olives is bellissimo). If snacking is more your thing, there’s a substantial selection of share plates (polenta, blended olives, crostinis) and melt-in-your-mouth Italian cheeses (bring on the Burrata!) to keep you coming back for more. Mama would definitely approve. 1829 Robson Street, Vancouver, 604-606-4680.

Trattoria Italian Kitchen
Located in the heart of Kitsilano’s hustle and bustle, this spot totally hits home. As part of the Glowbal Group collection of Vancouver-area restaurants, Trattoria offers a slightly more relaxed setting, translating to a perfect place to head to when you’re hankering for authentic Italian fare uncluttered by unnecessary ingredients.

An open-kitchen concept adds the right amount of entertainment to your overall experience, as you watch your meal come together right before your eyes. Opt for their take on bruschetta and order the sampler or try the burrata-stuffed zucchini blossoms for a real treat. Be sure to save room for a few of their signature Kobe meatballs – also served as part of an amazing pasta platter if a carbohydrate coma is what you’re after. 1850 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, 604-732-1441.

Cafe Il Nido
A staple of the city’s dining scene for 23 years and frequented by patrons who come as much for the pasta as they do the lively banter of long-time owner, Franco, this is a quintessential Italian comfort food stop. Kick back in the recently renovated lounge area and tuck into a bowl of their sweet potato gnocchi tossed in a broccoli pesto sauce, or order the house specialty – an addictive pasta bolognese – or the amazing baked lasagne finished with a bechamel rose sauce.

There are plenty of fresh seafood options (try the herb-crusted Halibut), share plates, and lighter fare available. At Cafe Il Nido, expect a West Coast twist on traditional Italian dishes and plenty of flavours. 780 Thurlow Street, Vancouver, 604-685-6436.

Campagnolo and Campagnolo Roma
We couldn’t decide which one we liked more, so opted to include both (they’re related anyways). Campagnolo (1020 Main Street), and little sister Roma (2297 E. Hastings St), focus on serving the ‘best of’ specific regional cuisine. The Roma location focuses on, you guessed it, Roman-style food, and Campagnolo on that of the Piedmont and Emiglia-Romagna regions.

Expect rustic – and tasty – simplicity in every bite. Arguably, both restaurants are home to the best selection of pizza and pastas, using simple ingredients and traditional techniques that amplify the taste. Who knew ricotta could taste so mouth-wateringly delicious when whipped to perfection, lightly salted, and served atop toasted crostinis (Roma) or Risotto with calamari and fennel would have us hankering for an extra portion to-go (Campagnolo)? Between these delectable digs, you’ll be happily eating your way through Italy in no time!

Now, about that marathon you might need to start training for…