by Andrew Morrison | Sad news. Il Giardino, arguably the most storied restaurant in Vancouver, is closing. A developer has picked up the property at Hornby and Pacific, and it sounds as if it’s destined to be turned into condos (shocking, I know). A lot of our great industry pioneers worked at the Italian restaurant in its heyday (late 70’s through Expo 86) – among them chefs Pino Posteraro, Gianni Picchi and John Bishop – and for a lot of people – particularly of my parents generation – it will forever remain the fount of their affections for European cuisine. True story: Michelle and I were married in the restaurant’s beautiful courtyard back in 2001, so I’m a little bit disappointed that it won’t be turned into another restaurant so that its namesake “garden” could still be enjoyed. From the inbox:
“It was a very bittersweet decision to make, as Il Giardino is one of my proudest career achievements,” explains Menghi. “The staff and loyal guests at Il Giardino are like family to me, but I’m happy we are leaving on a high note. And, that diners will still get a chance to experience Il Giardino once or twice more before we close and say one last goodbye. I’m deeply grateful for the loyalty and longstanding support of my gracious staff and chefs. Many special thanks to Executive Chef Peter, Manager Bobby (aka Bobino), and our Sommelier Ludwik, who have all been with the team for years.”
Menghi, now aged 65, will continue to operate his two Whistler restaurants: Il Caminetto and Trattoria di Umberto. He is renowned for bringing Northern Italian cuisine to Vancouver and has helped shape the global cuisine destination that Vancouver now represents. He has authored five books on Italian cooking, starred in a TV series on cooking called Elegant Appetite, founded 14 Umbertino fast food pasta and pizza emporiums, over 10 Italian restaurants and Villa Delia, a cooking school and guest villa in Ripoli near Umberto’s birthplace near Pisa, Italy.
Menghi is cause celebre as a proprietor and maitre’d of his restaurants. Many guests have grown to know him well and appreciate his passion and love for food. Past diners include film and music artists, as well as state dignitaries. Menghi attended Hotel School in Rome and went on work in France, United Kingdom and eventually settled in Canada in 1967 at Montreal Expo before settling in Vancouver soon after to open Casanova Ristorante Il Giardino is located at 1380 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC. Umberto looks forward to hosting and continuing his passion for Italian cuisine through his two restaurants in Whistler, B.C.
The restaurant isn’t closing until the Spring. It’s still open for supper, so if you’ve never been before or want to revisit one last time, get on it.