It seems like whenever we meet up with Italian Stallion and Wolvie, we go for pasta. Is it due to some subconscious decision on my part? After all, Italian Stallion is well... Italian! Maybe he legitimizes the meal for some reason? Not sure, but once again, here we were eating Italian food. And much like other times, we were at a place (L'Artista) on Hastings in North Burnaby. Not a difficult thing to do since there are so many Italian eateries in the area. We were lucky to score a last minute reservation on a Saturday. They were fully booked and we had a 1.5 hour window to eat. We really had no problem with the time limit since we were warned in advance when making the reservation. We were just happy to get a table.
We started out with a plate of Antipasto which was pretty standard and did the job. It was a pretty decent portion though. For our first dish, we had the Gnocchi with meat sauce. We thought the texture of the gnocchi was a good compromise between being dense and soft. The sauce was very mild with only a light tomato tang. It could've used a touch more seasoning. It did have a nice consistency though as it clung onto each gnocchi. When the Risotto Alla Toscana was presented at our table, we looked at it in a bit of confusion. If someone told us it was a vegetable rice medley, we would've believed them. In fact, it was a good vegetable rice medley with more ingredients than arborio rice. There was plenty of flavour from the Italian sausage and cheese. However, this was not really a risotto in our minds. It was far too wet and brothy.
To spice things up, we went for the Spaghetti All'Arrabbiata prepared with tomato sauce, garlic, capers, chili peppers & anchovies. I've had this many times before except with penne rather than spaghetti. The pasta was perfectly al dente with lots of chew. The sauce was hearty and tart, yet not really all that spicy. I guess this would be due to our personal preference of having it spicier. Lastly, we had a meat dish being the Veal Pompei consisting of lightly breaded veal, topped with ham, fresh sliced tomatoes and mozzarella, then baked in the oven. I wasn't a huge fan of this dish. In general, the whole thing lacked flavour and since there was so much sauce, the breading became soggy and slid off the veal. The veal was moist though. The plate itself was a large portion and the flavours were non-offensive. I can envision this doing really well on an early bird special. If you know what I mean... So it wasn't terrible, just not overly exciting or impactful.
"Non-offensive" would be the best way to describe pretty much all the food. The gnocchi and spaghetti were pretty decent while the risotto and veal could be polarizing. You either would like it or not. Considering the portions sizes and the fact we were able to use the Entertainment card for this meal, it was acceptable. One thing to keep in mind is the food at L'Artista cannot be compared to more modern Italian eateries in town. So if it is judged on its own merits, it is an okay option along Hastings street.
- Portion size is pretty good
- Service is friendly
- If you have the Entertainment Book, the price becomes pretty inexpensive
- Some of the flavours are muted
- Food is okay, but not really all that interesting either