I had to take my car in for servicing again; but this time it was only for warranty purposes. Rich Guy was nice enough to pick me up again which meant we get to go for lunch! Knowing this well in advance, I had made reservations at the Italian Kitchen in downtown. Joining us for lunch were Vandelay, Snake, Costanza and TS (eating_club Vancouver). While we were waiting for our table, low and behold, Emad Yacoub, the owner of Italian Kitchen and the rest of the Glowbal Group appears right in front of us. He was apparently taking a dish from the Italian Kitchen over to Coast (which is across the street) because a customer demanded it. Talking about service and from the head cheese too!
We were seated expeditiously on the second floor; however, too bad for me, far away from the window (lighting wasn't the best for pictures). Since Costanza had an afternoon meeting to get to, he had to eat and run. So we decided to order first and share the Pasta Platter. Thus, it arrived quickly before all the other dishes. It's so unnerving to eat while everyone is looking at you even though they really might not be. We offered food to everyone else as a courtesy; but no one took any. So uncomfortable! The platter itself included Spaghetti & Spicy Kobe Meatballs, Agnolotti Stuffed with Squash and Mascarpone
Pappardelle with Lamb Sausage, Cabbage and Potatoes and Penne Pommodoro. The Pappardelle was a bit too much on the al dente side. It was also quite rich from the lamb sausage and potatoes. Probably the highlight of the platter was the Spaghetti & Kobe Meatballs. The meatballs were very luxurious and flavourful. They were on the softer side of the meatball continuum; yet that was probably the result of the tender meat. The Agnolotti was a bit heavy with a massive amount of pesto on top. It was a bit of a mushy mess. All of these rich pastas overshadowed the lighter Penne which was almost an afterthought on the plate.
TS talked me into sharing a Beef Carpaccio Pizza with her. Mind you, there wasn't that much arm-twisting required. It definitely looked impressive, with plenty of beef, arugula and shaved asiago on top. However, as Vandelay remarked as well, there was something missing. We discussed this with TS and thought maybe it just needed more salt. There was plenty of pesto underneath the beef, so we got hits of basil, but not much else. Furthermore, we really didn't like the crust all that much either. It was dry and a bit overcooked. For reasons unknown, TS ordered the Seared Ahi Tuna Salad for her meal. Exhibiting regret, she lamented on how a pasta would have probably been more appropriate at the Italian Kitchen. Whatever the reason that led to her brain cramp, the salad did look good and the tuna looked fantastic.
At this point Costanza and Snake had to leave for their respective meetings. The rest of us were left to consider whether to have dessert or not. It didn't take long to decide that all of us were going to order a dessert each! The server was a bit surprised. I guess not many people have dessert at lunch? TS opted for the Strawberry White Chocolate Panna Cotta. Being probably the prettiest and most colourful of all the desserts we ordered, the panna cotta was decent. TS and I both agreed that it would've been better if there was less Zinfandel jelly and more panna cotta. For myself, I chose a classic - Tiramisu. This version was both plentiful and very light. The ladyfingers were soaked in espresso which gave the dessert a nice aroma. Although enjoyable, nothing really special about it. Rich Guy went for the Lavender Creme Brulee which was not bad. It was smooth and creamy; although there was nothing that set it apart. Vandelay ordered the Zeppole di Cioccolato, which are donuts filled with chocolate ganache. They were served piping hot (watch the filling). Again, quite pleasant to eat; but the dough could've have been a bit softer. The ones from Fuel were better.
Overall, it was a pleasant, if not uninteresting meal. Unlike other internet reviews, I do think that the pricing and portion size are not completely out of line when you take into consideration the cost of the operation and its location. For instance, I believe the flavours at Marcello are better; but the portion size and pricing are relatively similar. Furthermore, if you look at a place such as Anducci's where their prices are dangerously close to $20.00 as well, then you can see that Italian Kitchen is not necessarily overpriced. In fact, if you take into account the ambiance (a matter of personal taste), location and service; it's really not all that bad. With that being said, the food had its highs and lows; but it's not as terrible as some people put it.
- Attentive service
- Central location in downtown
- It's got style
- Food is hit and miss