Address: 615 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC V5T 3K5, Canada
Phone: +1 604-428-0072
Price: $$ (out of $$$$)
When you ask around to find out what the hottest restaurant is in Vancouver at the moment, many point you to Savio Volpe (Italian for Wise Fox). This answer is almost always followed up with, “but don’t expect to get in, it’s usually booked up to a month in advance.” Yikes! Luckily, I was able to find a dinner reservation while I was in town!
As you approach the restaurant you can feel a sense of “cool” surrounding it. The door is an imposing twelve foot slab of wood and the facade is completely black which adds a nice air of mystery. When you walk in, you can somehow tell the restaurant is filled with the movers and shakers of Vancouver. It’s located in Mount Pleasant, and if you’re not from the neighbourhood, it definitely takes a bit of effort and planning to get to (as opposed to, say, downtown) so I know the diners here all deemed it worth the their while to visit.
You almost want to label the place “pretentious” on first impression and completely write it off – where do they get off chucking the hottest restaurant in town right on Kingsway?! Vancouver is also not really known for its Italian fare. Savio labels itself as an osteria (a place that serves simple drinks and food) and the label is very appropriate. The food is unpretentious yet indulgent, taking Italian techniques seriously, like fresh pasta making, but in no way trying to replicate traditional Italian fare – Savio’s happy doing it’s own thing, using Canadian produce to make something simple, rustic, yet special in the Italian spirit.
My meal consisted of a pre-meal negroni (the perfect drink for people watching), Farro (with cherry tomato, cannellini beans, pinenuts, pecorino toscana) and grass fed veal chop (20oz with prosciutto, sage, taleggio). The farro mix was delicious and refreshing, though I would’ve preferred if it was a bit crunchier. The grass fed veal chop was incredible. While eating it, I felt somewhat like a fox that had just indulged in a fresh kill, with the meat left slightly “alive” and pink, bringing to life an incredibly gamey and earthy taste.
While the food was great, it was the atmosphere that really made Savio Volpe shine. The restaurant’s motto is, “for friends, family and strangers” and the importance of that slogan doesn’t hit you until you’ve dined there. You’ll feel as comfortable there saddled up at the bar with a few mates or coworkers as you would bringing a nervous first date, an important anniversary date or even the entire family, including grandparents. The real appeal of the restaurant is the well-balanced atmosphere it provides for almost any guest. It’s hip and cool, yet appropriate for a wide demographic. It’s Italian but it’s not stuffy or burn-a-hole in your wallet pricey. They’ve managed to create a place that feels like your favourite lounge bar, modern osteria and cosy living room all at the same time.
If Savio Volpe’s the cool kid, it’s not because it’s some flash, of the moment operation, but because it’s exceptionally true to what it represents – an extremely cool, warm and welcoming place for you to relax in with a few drinks while enjoying an indulgent, yet unpretentious dinner.