As we’ve been enjoying exceptionally beautiful weather this summer in Vancouver, we’ve found ourselves heading to the beach in the evenings to relish the stunning vistas. Yet after a stroll on the seawall, we’ve often lamented the scarcity of enticing options for dinner. Of course there’s no shortage of places serving up beer, burgers and greasy fish and chips but establishments with higher culinary ambitions are few and far between. We could not have been more excited when we happened upon the latest outpost of Nook—one of our West End favourites—minutes from the beach on bustling Yew Street. While we’ve always enjoyed Nook’s casual Italian fare, the popularity and tiny size of its Denman Street location, along with its no reservations policy, was a recipe for long queues. Its new Kits space, though still retaining the intimate, casual vibe of the original, is significantly larger and divided into takeout and sit down sections. The takeout concept is well suited to the neighbourhood (and an excellent option if you arrive to find no availability) and we can hardly wait to pick up a few of their tasty pizzas and head to the beach for an impromptu picnic. On this visit, however, we opted to dine in, and while the restaurant was lively we only had to wait a few minutes for a table.
The menu and overall concept don’t deviate too much from the success of the original, serving up a small, but well edited, selection of salads, crostini, pizzas and pastas, all house-made using fresh, local ingredients. The wine list, while also limited, features an enticing selection of Italian varietals available by the bottle and the glass, and we were pleasantly surprised by the non-alcoholic options as well—a number of fruity sodas that hit the perfect note between sweet and tart. To start we sampled a number of the delectable salads on offer. The buffalo mozzarella and arugula salad was a delight—the fresh, soft cheese paired perfectly with the slightly nutty and tart greens, which were lightly dressed to allow the flavour of the vegetable to remain the highlight. From the daily specials we selected the heirloom tomato salad, which was so fresh and tender it felt as if the colourful tomatoes were picked only moments before plating, as well as the burrata and prosciutto plate which was equally as appetizing paired with tomatoes and cannellini beans. Each were served with crostini drizzled in a flavourful olive oil and the portions were extremely generous and perfect for sharing.
Our mains were just as scrumptious and sizeable; large, thin-crust pizzas baring the ideal topping to crust ratio and heaping bowls of steaming pasta cooked to al dente perfection. The ricotta pizza smothered with the soft, mild cheese, spinach, olives and roasted garlic was a highlight. Unlike other ricotta pizzas we’ve sampled where the cheese overwhelms the pizza, Nook’s version featured just a smattering which allowed the other ingredients to shine and made for a more enticing, less rich, dish. We also enjoyed the anchovy pizza which is a salty and flavourful concoction of fish, olives and chilies, and both crusts were expertly prepared and drenched in tasty olive oil. Nook’s version of the classic Roman dish, Cacio e Pepe—prepared with just black pepper, a generous serving of Pecorino cheese and the water used to cook the pasta—was creamy and luscious. The dish’s elegant and understated simplicity makes it a rare treat. The traditional Puttanesca also did not disappoint and packed an intense, flavourful punch.
It’s a true testament to the quality of the food that even with such a limited number of offerings on the menu, each of our dining companions had difficulty deciding what to order, despite our many collective dietary restrictions, because everything sounded so good. The space is just as casual and inviting as the food; making extensive use of wood, it’s nearly impossible not to enjoy your meal in this very contemporary space with the sun streaming through the large front windows. With top-notch service, fresh, tasty ingredients and a location that’s hard to beat, Nook is destined to become one of our go-to spots for dinner in Kits.