D A T E N I G H T
at a cosy Italian joint
One of the first things we agreed to do upon moving to Vancouver was to go on a date once a month. For some reason, our dates have all revolved around food (whoops!), but I guess that's partly due to the incessant rain here. I really want to go for a hike but the weather just isn't on my side.
Anyhow, I was pleasantly surprised that V managed to dig up tons of good recommendations here, some of which I hadn't yet heard of. (Just so you know, I've bookmarked lots of cafes/restaurants on Yelp and added little green flags on all the spots I wanna visit on my Google maps - so yes I'm serious about eating my way through Vancouver!).
We decided on Italian and picked Ask for Luigi, a tiny restaurant on Alexander Street. My original intention was to head there for brunch because I had read that if you arrive before 10am, you get a slice of warm homemade banana bread (pretty much the only thing I've been baking here). Well, there was a last-minute change of plans and since I was already downtown checking out the Black Friday sales, we decided to head over for a late dinner.
The sad thing about dining here is that you can't call ahead to make a reservation. We arrived at 8pm and put ourselves in line for a table, and an hour-long wait. When we finally got settled in at 9pm, the place was still packed to the brim, with more customers arriving after. I'm still not familiar enough with Vancouver's dining scene yet, but in Singapore, if you have long wait times after years of being open, it does say a lot.
The Ask For Luigi dinner menu is pretty compact, so there wasn't a lot of dithering involved. Our choice of antipasti was clear: Luigi's meatballs ($19). It definitely did not disappoint one bit. The meatballs were soft, tender, entirely cooked through, and topped with fresh tomato sauce and (I am assuming) parmesan cheese. SO YUMMMM.
For mains, I went with the tonarelli, perch and porcini ragu ($28). In layman speak: Tonarelli pasta with fish and mushrooms. This dish was really flavourful, and I liked that they were generous with the fish too. Pardon the tired face: I did waaay too much walking around for Black Friday!
It was V's main dish - the oxtail risotto with bone marrow butter ($28) - that stole most of my attention. I took one bite and was blown away. The broth was flavourful here too, but where my pasta had a seafood-y taste some folks may find cloying, this was surprisingly lighter and more fragrant. It was so good I couldn't stop myself from spooning every ounce of liquid up from the plate.
We were already kinda full but I was hugely tempted to order dessert. There are only three choices on the menu: a panna cotta, an olive oil cake and something called a budino (all $9 each). My first inclination was to order the panna cotta, but after asking a waitress what a "budino" was (a flourless chocolate cake with sea salt and hazelnut crumble), we ordered that instead. NO RAGRETS, MATES, NO RAGRETS. It was SO dense and SO chocolate-y, and I'm a sucker for anything with sea salt, really.
All in all: We thoroughly enjoyed our meal here. Service staff were really attentive and helpful (they stashed my Black Friday loot somewhere else because our table was a little cramped, and handed it back to me before we left), and I loved the homey, welcoming vibe of the place (none of that snooty "too good for you" attitude here).
13/10 would come back - but for brunch/lunch next!
Ask For Luigi
305 Alexander St
Vancouver, BC, Canada