Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill and Enoteca

December 3rd, 2011

Location: 1129-1133 Hamilton Street, Vancouver, BC  View Google Map
Website: Click Here

Cioppino’s is one of those places in Vancouver where the food is good but the room is not. There is often a divide in Vancouver: I am made to choose between eating somewhere hip and/or well-decorated with mediocre food and dining where questionable aesthetic decisions have been made, but the meals are well-prepared. Given a choice, I will go for the latter every time. At Cioppino’s you could start with their Porcini and Chestnut soup, a refined rendering of an old-school dish which is smooth and full of flavour. On my last visit, I tried the Burrata special, a wonderfully mild and creamy fresh mozzarella accompanied by antipasto and fresh tomatoes – a lovely way to start an Italian meal. I’ve been to Cioppino’s many times and their namesake dish is always generously allotted with seafood and fish swimming in a tomato-based broth. Dover sole is my favourite fish and here it is given the classic French meunière treatment. This was the first dish Julia Child had in France and the one responsible for her culinary awakening – I can see why. At Cioppino’s an Italianate twist adds tomatoes and basil and it is delicious. Should a plate of pasta and clams cost $30? Probably not, but their spaghetti vongole was so tasty I can hardly protest – briney but clean, the pasta had obviously been finished in the pan with the clams so it could soak up their juices until the noodles themselves were bursting with their flavour. To finish, I had their tarte tatin, a classic French dessert, but impressively prepared here. Cioppino’s boasts a decadent cellar and their wine list comes in a leather bound volume that is practically biblical, but I also spotted many half bottles as well as several reasonably priced wines by the glass. The service is well-orchestrated and efficient; I’ve been to an event in their private dining room which was elegantly executed with everyone’s food arriving piping hot and perfectly prepared. At the end of the day, I can ignore the hideous paintings on the walls for food this good. (EL)

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