Di Beppe in Vancouver shares a piece of home through Italian fare.
In Vancouver, there are few things as pleasant as going out for evening dinner reservations while it is still beautiful and bright outside. On an evening in May, this was exactly the case for me and my friend who had reservations for Di Beppe. Any form of sunshine is a big win due to the approaching “summer” weather the city had been experiencing. During our visit, the sun shone through Di Beppe’s large windows and illuminated the dining area, giving the restaurant a warm, glowing vibe.
Perfectly situated at the busy intersection of Carrall and West Cordova Street, the hustle and bustle of city-goers is seen through the windows of Di Beppe — a true people watcher’s dream. The window serves as a looking glass for both sides, as those walking along the sidewalk curiously peered inside to see what was so lively and busy on a Thursday night.
And lively it was! As soon as we entered, funky piano melodies filled the room, providing background music for the groups of friends dining together. Quirky lamp fixtures, which had different types of pasta portrayed on the bulbs, hung overhead. The restaurant refers to itself as “a young Italian restaurant with an old Italian soul,” and that atmosphere was immediately apparent.. Needless to say, I knew we were in for a fun and vibrant evening.
Di Beppe is separated into two distinct areas. As you walk inside, you enter the charming cafe that turns into a bustling wine bar at night. Open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., the cafe boasts authentic Italian coffee in a modest but chic setting. Situated in the adjacent room is the restaurant which is open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., serving both lunch and dinner.
I was delighted to learn that the restaurant’s large portions encourage sharing menu items. I gravitate towards settings like this not just because I can try everything ordered for the table, but also because the meal itself becomes an interactive experience and communal event.
For antipasto, my friend and I ordered a dish containing burrata, peperonata, toasted hazelnuts, and sourdough. Peperonata is a traditional southern Italian dish made of stewed peppers with onions, tomatoes, and herbs. The peppers tasted incredible and were bursting with spice and flavor. They went exquisitely well with the sourdough and creamy burrata.
Next, we got pomodoro pasta. Before we even saw the server heading to the table with the dish, we smelled its fragrant scent coming our way. This must be one of the highest compliments you can give to food! The pasta itself was simple yet so flavorful with pera tomatoes and basil leaves. I never thought that pasta could ever be “light,” but that’s exactly what it was, and it was phenomenal.
We also ordered Roman-style pizza with prosciutto cotto, artichoke, olives, and mushrooms. The pizza arrived piping hot, and the billowing steam made it look even more drool-worthy. As a self-professed margherita pizza lover (I’m a staunch believer that simple pizza is the best pizza), this loaded dish really blew me away. All the ingredients complimented each other wonderfully, and the pizza crust was so soft and doughy.
For my drink, I had a Bicicletta, which is an Italian spritz cocktail that traditionally contains Campari, dry white wine, and soda water. It was tangy and refreshing. According to legend, this aperitivo cocktail was allegedly named after old drunk men who would be swerving on their bikes on the way home from the cafe after indulging in too much drink. Seems like a fitting name for the drink! And finally, with our bill, we got complimentary crostoli, which are crispy fried Italian pastries. They were light and flaky, and it was a perfect dessert to end our meal.
Di Beppe’s website states that the restaurant’s menu is “inspired by the Italian immigrant’s desire to share a piece of home while living abroad.” This is a simple yet poetic way of echoing the desire of many of Vancouver’s ethnic restaurants which are yearning to showcase the great food experiences of their home country. It is both a remedy for homesickness and a grandiose display of all the delicious cooking their nation has to offer. Di Beppe comes across as sincere cuisine, if a term should exist, and it brilliantly succeeds in its attempt to pay true homage to Italian food.