Sherman's Food Adventures: Osteria Elio Volpe

Osteria Elio Volpe

One of the most popular modern Italian restaurants in the Lower Mainland is Savio Volpe.  I've had quite a few experiences with the place and I would agree that it is a place that will be on everyone's "to-dine" list.  I've always enjoyed their wood-fire meats and their delicious antipasti plates.  Pastas have always been hit and miss for me, but others seem to love them.  But really, no one can deny it is one of THE places to go in Vancouver for modern Italian food.  Now they are adding another restaurant to the stable in Elio Volpe on West 17th.  Eileen and I were able to get a coveted reso to celebrate her birthday.

We got the Semolina Parker House Rolls to start.  Each piece pulled apart easily, revealing a steaming hot and fluffy texture.  But the best part was the peconino butter where it was super creamy and spreadable.  Naturally, it was well-salted from the cheese.   Beyond that, we also ordered the Yellowfin Tuna Crudo.  These little bites were bright and clean-tasting.  The combination of jalapeno and colatura dressing helped add some tangy spice as well as briny saltiness.  With the sprinkling of pangrattato, we had some texture to compliment the buttery soft fish.

As another starter of sorts, we selected the Guanciale Pizza with castelvetrano olive, roasted mushrooms and pomodoro.  This was similar to Neapolitan-style pizza with its thin crust and preparation in wood-burning oven, but the crust was even thinner and almost uniform in texture.  The middle was a bit softer like a Neapolitan pizza but the edges were flat and crunchy.  On top, the pomodoro was mild and offered just enough moisture for effect.  The ample amount of guanciale added a salty fattiness while the olives provided tang and more saltiness.  Mushrooms did its earthy thing.

We went for two half-portions of pasta including the excellent Calabreselli alla Vodka.  For a half-portion, this was still plenty large for sharing.  It featured firmly al denta pasta that was complete coated in a spicy vodka sauce.  It was tomatoey and creamy with both bold and subtle flavours.  The crab was a bit lost in this and only added texture.  Once again, we found bread crumbs providing the crunch.  The other pasta was the Rigatoni Cacio e Pepe featuring large firm pasta tubes.  The sauce was creamy, cheesy and of course peppery featuring 10-year old cheddar.  What really made this dish sing was the roasted jalapeno on top.  It broke up the heaviness and added spice and tang.

One last half-portion to go and this time, it was the Carnaroli Risotto with morel mushrroms, mascarpone and chives.  We found this risotto a bit heavy on the cheese and light on the actual carnaroli rice.  Hence it was almost soupy despite allowing it to rest for awhile.  Despite this, the rice was still firm and did not go mushy.  Lots of creamy cheesiness here and not too salty.  However, the dish was a bit tangy for some reason or another.  Did enjoy the morels as they were intensely earthy and of course the texture was appealing.

Moving onto our main course dishes, we had the 10oz MacLeod’s Leap Flatiron Steak with charred onion, watercress and black pepper condiment.  It was prepared a perfect medium-rare being uniform and also very moist.  It was both cooked and rested properly.  Now looks are one thing, but it also ate very well.  The meat was succulent and required very little chewing.  Lots of natural meat flavour and the steak itself was properly seasoned.  That black pepper condiment was full of umami and pepperiness.

That was good, but the Pan-Roasted Striped Bass was also very good.  It featured fava beans, morel mushrooms, hakurei turnip and citrus butter sauce.  I found the seasoning a bit aggressive as most parts of the fish was salty.  However, the dish could not be accused of being bland.  The bass was cooked to perfection though being buttery soft and flaky.  It literally melted in our mouths.  The citrus butter sauce was mild and light, complimenting the fish without taking away from it.

We ended up going for 2 desserts including the Amaretto Semi Freddo and the Tiramisu Cheesecake.  Both desserts were pretty good with the semi freddo being purposefully sweet with the unmistakable amaretto fruitiness.  It was creamy and light while living up to its name of being semi-frozen.  Love the crunch on the top as it added texture.  Not looking like much, the tiramisu cheesecake was also good.  It was creamy, yet not too heavy while having all of the components of tiramisu.  Overall, our dinner at Elio Volpe was good with definite highlights.  Possibly a few things could've been better, but that is nitpicking. We also had some great cocktails.

The Good:
- Loved the service
- Most dishes were prepared properly
- Energetic vibe

The Bad:

- Risotto was a bit soupy


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