Gastown’s newest restaurant, di Beppe, is set to launch this Wednesday, December 6th at 2 West Cordova. They hosted back to back friends-and-family services late last week (the latter of which I was glad to attend). The address used to be home to Joe’s Pizza, which recently opened a new location out at UBC. Before that, it was Rainier Provisions.
Regular readers will remember di Beppe as the new eatery from the Kitchen Table group (see also Pizzeria Farina, Joe Pizza, St. Lawrence, Pourhouse, Ask For Luigi). What’s in a name? “di Beppe” is Italian for “Joe’s” — Beppe being the Italian diminutive of Giuseppe, or “Joseph”.
At the time of writing of my last story about the space, the plan was for the square footage to be split between Joe Pizza and di Beppe, the former taking the front half (with deli counter), the latter taking the back half (with dining room and bar). That has obviously now changed with di Beppe taking over the whole thing and splitting the two zones into a caffe and ristorante.
The concept – casual Italian – remains essentially the same. Chef Letitia Wan (formerly Ask For Luigi) has put together a short menu of antipasti, pizzas and pastas that reads really well. The pizzas are different from the Joe Pizza ‘al taglio’ style, and can be ordered al metro, or by the metre. For pastas, diners have a choice of spaghetti or rigatoni with classic treatments like cacio e pepe, carbonara, amatriciana, pomodoro, et cetera. There were also two lasagnas, the bolognese-style of which I took down in just a few minutes.
My favourite dish of the night was a meaty beef carpaccio, which Wan makes using pounded eye of round rather than filet. The raw beef was evenly dressed with a mustard-lit aioli, exceptionally good black pepper, extra virgin olive oil and shaved provolone shards. It looked good and tasted even better — one of the better versions of this classic I’ve yet seen in Vancouver.
The caffe side has plenty of vernacular baked goods and sausage/meatball sandwiches, a new espresso program (overseen by Chris Giannakos, whose family owns Crema in West Van and Revolver Coffee on Cambie St.), soft serve treats, a bunch of apertivi (eg. brottled Aperol Spritz), and pizza. It’ll make a good grab-n-go in the daytime, and a place to hold tight in the evenings while waiting for a table to come free on the ristorante side.
I’m loving the look on both sides, but the ristorante (accessed by way of a yellow framed portal in the caffe) is definitely the sexier of the two. The seven seat bar offers different sight lines (including into the tucked away kitchen and pass), while the 60’s Ferrari racing livery motifs and the Baretta moped tucked high up above a corner table are fairly transportive — it doesn’t feel like Vancouver in here. The booths and the three-cornered banquette turned out really cozily, and the eclectic assortment of light fixtures give it all a homey, autumnal feel. The mood suits the theme like a glove.
My favourite thing about the room, however, is how atmospheric it gets once it fills and the huge windows fog up in such a way as to artfully announce all the headlights/brakelights that drive past outside. Also looking good: the table tops made of wood reclaimed from the lanes at New West’s Lucky Strike bowling alley.
Again, if all goes well di Beppe will open to the public on Wednesday, December 6th. I don’t think the hours are set in stone just yet but I’ve been told they’re launching Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 9pm to start for the caffe and 5pm to 10pm for the ristorante. Take a closer look at the interior below…