Here is another example of the "this restaurant has been around forever and I must've driven by it thousands of times without trying it". Yah, we all know those spots that are right there in front of us, but there is something that keeps us away. La Piazza Dario, located in the Italian Cultural Centre, has been a usual sight when I pass by when heading into Downtown Vancouver. Heck, I drove by it daily when Viv and I were still dating as it was on my route to her house. 2 things finally made us eat there: a coupon and the intriguing suggestion by Costanza.
So we gathered up both families and made it a date for a Sunday (when the coupon was valid). The adults started with an order of the Calamari Fritti served with a lemon wedge and home style tomato sauce. We found the crunchy breading to be consistent where it adhered to the squid uniformly. It was well seasoned, but the squid itself could've used some salt prior to frying. Texturally, the squid was on the softer side. We ended up getting a variety of pastas to share including the Rigatoni con Salsiccia in a zesty tomato sauce. Meaty, yet mildly spiced, the amount of sausage rivaled the amount of pasta on the plate. As mentioned, the tomato sauce was zesty and tangy that was not devoid of salt. The pasta itself was nicely toothsome.
As much as the adults enjoyed the rigatoni, the kiddies dusted off the Penne al Pollo featuring diced free range chicken breast in a creamy sauce. The sauce was indeed creamy, but not overly heavy as evidenced in the picture. We weren't sure if the light splash of tomato sauce was meant to be on the plate, but it brought a little colour to the sauce. As light as the dish appeared, it was well-seasoned while the chunks of chicken were moist and tender. Somehow, my daughter got my attention while I was busy eating and motioned over to the Tortellini Cardinale with veal-filled pasta rings in a classic cream sauce. I guess she was in the mood for creamy pastas. Interestingly, the cream sauce here was much less salty than the previous dish (which made it somewhat bland). The consistency was good though, coating each tortellini evenly. As for the pasta itself, it wasn't too doughy and somewhat softer. The veal filling was a touch mealy and natural-tasting.
I was not a huge fan of the strong truffle oil taste of the Tagliatelle Delizie del Bosco with sautéed gourmet mushrooms & herbs. With that being said, the rest of the dish was on point. Firmly toothsome, the tagliatelle was lightly kissed by the broth-like sauce that was Earthy and well-salted accented by fresh basil. Our last pasta dish was the Penne Ciociara with pancetta, peas & mushrooms sauteed in a garlic & tomato sauce. Once again, the pasta was fairly al dente while dressed in just enough sauce. Unlike the rigatoni, this tomato sauce was saltier with less tang and pepperiness. The saltiness was amped by the considerable amount of pancetta. Once again, the fresh basil added a nice aroma while the peas did their sweet pop thing.
We also got 2 meat dishes including the Alce alla Moda dello Chef featuring elk medallions roasted in garlic & rosemary with red wine reduction. Sadly, it turned out rare when we asked for medium (because of Elaine, but we actually wanted medium-rare). With such raw centre, the meat was chewy and overall difficult to eat. Such a shame as the meat itself was beautiful while the sauce was aromatic and not overly salty. Veggies were vibrant and crunchy too. Our second meat dish was the Anitra ai Funghi or pan seared duck breast topped with portobello mushrooms. The fully cooked duck breast was a little dry, but still sufficiently tender. It wasn't particularly seasoned, but the salty mushrooms made up for it. Once again, the veggies were done just right. Overall, we thought the meal was decent except for the proteins. Service was pretty good despite what I have read while the prices were reasonable.
- Fairly nice dining space
- Fairly attentive service unlike others have said
- Could be a tad salty for some
- Proteins could've been cooked better