Eight restaurants earned MICHELIN stars when the revered guide launched its inaugural Vancouver edition in 2022—including one groundbreaking Italian spot known for marrying Mediterranean and Japanese flavours. That pick underscored the fact that Vancouver’s Italian restaurants are a formidable bunch, blending traditional techniques with unlikely ingredients.
Italy-born owners bring Venetian small plates to Commercial Drive. A stone oven place with outposts in North Van and Kerrisdale serves perfectly blistered Neapolitan-style pizzas. Squid ink pasta and classic bolognese impress at a swish restaurant in Yaletown.
Whether you’re in the mood for a full-blown Tuscan feast or dessert and digestivo, these spots have it all. Read on for a guide to Vancouver’s 10 best Italian restaurants to book now.
Osteria Savio Volpe (Mount Pleasant)
This warm and modern osteria already had local favourite status in Vancouver. But it attracted even more attention after the MICHELIN Guide sang praises about its garlic pull-apart bread and noted the restaurant could “fit right in” on the streets of Rome, Milan, or Naples. Most dishes here are served family-style and standouts include the wood-fired half chicken with buttery, lemony Sicilian salmoriglio sauce and risotto made with sought-after Acquerello rice (extra-absorbent kernels that won’t turn the rice dish mushy). End on a sweet note with the chocolate-pistachio cannoli, best paired with a drink from Savio Volpe’s extensive digestivo list.
Frankie’s Italian Kitchen & Bar (Stadium District)
Frankie’s—named for the owner’s grandfather, Francesco Raffaele Aiello—is the spot for Italian American comfort food. Treasured family recipes such as spaghetti with meatballs and lasagna with alfredo, ricotta, and mozzarella, round out the hearty mains. Consider aperitivo hour for smaller plates such as calamari or truffle parmesan fries. Conveniently for guests at the Georgian Court Hotel upstairs, Frankie’s offers breakfast too (with Italian influences such as the Italian sausage accompanying the Urban Farmer’s Hash). From Thursday to Sunday evenings, the restaurant’s menu is also served at Frankie’s Jazz Club next door.
Kissa Tanto (Chinatown)
Kissa Tanto reflects the Italian and Japanese heritage of chef and owner Joël Watanabe—and the cuisines’ mutual love for noodles and rice. Bold Italian dishes meet delicate Japanese flavours on the menu. The culinary balancing act earned the restaurant a star in MICHELIN’s very first Vancouver guide in 2022. Expect dazzling dishes such as Tajarin pasta featuring miso-cured egg yolk and duck breast served with BC chanterelles and yuzu kosho, a Japanese condiment made from fresh chiles, yuzu zest, and yuzu juice. Feast on it all in a space that evokes Tokyo jazz cafés from the 1960s. For parties of five to six, Kissa Tanto has a special table for the Quintessential Omakase Experience featuring a dedicated shareable menu.
Novo Pizzeria & Wine Bar (Fairview)
Novo Pizzeria’s interior feels a bit like Rome with its hand-blown pendant lights, wood and marble-grained tables, and a bar with vertically stacked subway tiles. The trattoria’s lush streetside patio, though, is quintessentially Vancouver. Pop in for a glass of Italian wine or an aperitivo (Campari with prosecco and fresh lemon juice, anyone?). Choose from a solid pasta lineup or Novo’s weekly specials, based on what’s freshest and in season, if you’re here for a meal. Also of note: pizzas made from stone-ground Caputo flour dough that’s been fermenting for 72 hours, then topped with hand-crushed tomatoes.
Cafe il Nido (Downtown)
This small intimate restaurant (il nido means “the nest” in Italian) has drawn crowds since 1988. The seasonal, vine-covered patio feels distinctly Tuscan even though Robson Street is just a few metres away. People return to the convivial cucina for its friendly service and reliable classics such as minestrone soup, veal osso bucco, and risotto with chicken, mushroom, and asparagus. Cap off your meal with housemade desserts including the custardy torta della nonna (grandmother’s cake) with pine nuts. Come on Friday and Saturday evenings for live piano tunes.
Nicli Antica Pizzeria (North Vancouver)
North Van’s Edgemont is known for its friendly, village-like vibes. Find those in spades at Nicli Antica Pizzeria. Wood-fired pizzas are the main draw at this plant-filled spot, from a classic Margherita to the chef’s special with eggplant, almond ricotta, and cashew garlic sauce. There’s a pie topped with Calabrese salami and sweet-sour pork agrodolce for meat lovers. Housemade pastas, salads, and antipasti are also offered, including burrata from Italy served with focaccia, prosciutto, and arugula. The ultra-inclusive menu also features gluten-free pizza dough and penne, plus a handful of kid-friendly options.
Bufala (Edgemont and Kerrisdale)
Perfectly blistered Neapolitan-style pizzas are the main attractions at Bufala, with locations in North Van and Kerrisdale. Other loved dishes—all meant for sharing—include rigatoni with bolognese and optional burrata, beef carpaccio with fermented cucumbers, and marsala-braised pork cheeks. Don’t sleep on the decadent desserts such as the spruce tip and chocolate ice cream sandwiched between chocolate cookies. Both locations offer charitable reservations on OpenTable to support community stewardship initiatives such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast BC.
Lupo Ristorante and Vinacoteca (Yaletown)
This modern Italian restaurant in a Victorian-era heritage house is known for housemade everything—including the hand-rolled breadsticks. Lupo’s menu changes with the seasons so you might find dishes such as squid ink pasta with lobster and prawns, lamb shank flavoured with cinnamon and red wine, or a classic bolognese. The extensive wine cellar supplies ideal pairings. Reserve one of the private rooms upstairs for a special gathering.
Bar Corso (Commercial Drive)
Bar Corso’s Italy-born owners bring a Venetian vibe to this casual wine bar and café. Bar Corso is just as suited for cicchetti (small plates) and prosecco as it is for sipping a no-nonsense espresso. Chef Luke Boswell helms the kitchen and his menus change frequently. Get the chef’s five-course tasting menu for something more substantial, which includes standbys such as Brant Lake wagyu flank steak with black garlic. If you’re lucky, the day’s dessert selection will feature pear and dark chocolate tart with hazelnut ice cream.
Fiorino, Italian Street Food (Chinatown)
Fiorinno’s name is a nod to the Fiat Fiorino, a small truck that delivers bread throughout Florence. So it’s no surprise that pressed Tuscan sandwiches are the lunchtime stars here. Come 3 pm, the menu shifts to small plates such as carpaccio, roasted potatoes, plus charcuterie and cheese. Dinner is all about Florentine shared plates including a 30-day dry-aged porterhouse. Wines are all Italian and feature smaller producers and lesser-known-in-Canada varietals while cocktails, such as a limoncello-forward take on the mojito, are inspired by Italy.