Unlike a lot of North American cities, Vancouver's default "ethnic" cuisine isn't Italian. While the Commercial Drive neighbourhood does offer the most authentic Italian in Vancouver, if you're not venturing out of downtown, you'll likely only find family-oriented chef-boyardee restaurants or, the complete opposite, high end posh ristorantes, ideal for proposing to a girlfriend.
But what if you're not looking for white cloth napkins and a chance to dress up? What if you want your menu to feature more than lasagna and meatballs? What if you're looking for real brick-oven pizzas and not the 99 cent-a-slice downtown specials?
Located inside a historic brick building on a non-touristy street in Gastown, Incendio offers a taste of quality gourmet Italian with a variety of choices.
I went to Incendio on a Friday night with some friends for a casual dinner after work. The patio, which was one reason why we went, was full, so we sat inside. Regardless, the interior was beautifully decorated with paintings and was comfortable.
The menu featured many appetizers, a large selection of gourmet pizzas and various pasta types to choose from with over a dozen gourmet sauces. The toppings ranged from the traditional Italian tomato sauces to rich and exquisite cream sauces. Some sauces featured seafood. Others were vegetarian. Some even featured such delicacies as grilled duck sausage and 5 different types of wild mushrooms. The ingredients in the other dozen sauces were unique combinations that you normally wouldn't find. Even more adventurous for an Italian restaurant, Incendio's sauce list offered a few curry options for those who like to experiment with traditional Italian pasta. They also had non-pasta and non-pizza options too.
Service here was impeccible. The waiter was always on the ball... always a step ahead of us, making sure we knew what to expect with our dinners, letting us know the time of our food's arrival, and alerting us of anything we might have questioned.
Favorite Dish: The antipasto platter - literally a heap of various cheeses, olives, artichokes, peppers, seafood, proscutto, salami and sausages. We shared this among 3 people and were practically full after. We still had our own pasta to eat!
The temporary special of Atlantic lobster salad, made with fresh roast corn cut right off the cob, fresh cubed beets and a cream sauce on a bed of greens.
The pasta portions are very, very filling. I had the meat tortellini covered in a spicey tomato sauce cooked with garlic, anchovies and capers. Salty due to the anchovies, but delicious and with the perfect amount of bite.
Oh... and a bottle of red wine made the entire meal sublime.
I have had some great brick oven pizza, but this place is definetly on my top 5. Great beer, outstanding service, and down to earth atmosphere.
Favorite Dish: Four Cheese with Jamon Serrano.