The new restaurant – essentially the North Shore cousin of Pizzeria Farina, Di Beppe and Ask For Luigi – opens tonight in the old Il Castello address at 119 2nd St. East.
My little brood attended the friends and family service at Farina Pizza a Legna last night. We were smitten. The room is really well put together in a colourfully cozy way. It looks and feels like it’s been in operation with a loving hand at the tiller since the early 1960s. Light fixtures are stencilled with expressions in a Venetian dialect and custom prints highlight the regions and addresses of family members still living in Italy. The service, which is Service is at the table with a variety of seating options from bar height to banquette.
If this is the first you’re hearing of it, the new Italian restaurant is the latest project from Kitchen Table Restaurants, which also owns and operates Pizzeria Farina, Di Beppe, Ask For Luigi, and the recently refreshed Pourhouse (major renovations now complete). You can read a backgrounder on it here, but the gist is as follows: family-friendly, informal, neighbourhood joint with proper wood-fired pizzas, handmade pastas, wine in tumblers and vernacular cocktails.
All of the dishes I tried last night were delicious, with the standout being a beautifully light and pea green-tinted Risi e Bisi (see photo gallery at bottom). While chef Alessandro Vianello’s menu borrows dishes from Kitchen Table’s other restaurants, nothing is exactly the same, except for maybe the tomato sauce, which is one of the brightest in town. The meatballs taste lighter, juicier and meatier than the ones at Ask For Luigi; the pizza crust has more chew than Pizzeria Farina; the carbonara is a decadent mangiacake departure from the Roman classic at Di Beppe, seeing pancetta, parmigiana, yolk and cream instead of guanciale, pecorino and a huge dose black pepper, but it’s tasty just the same and the noodles – spag or rigatoni – are excellent. It’s all uncomplicated, unfussy and familiar. It might be unoriginal, but that kind of misses the point. I would eat here several times a month if it was in my neighbourhood. Lucky you, North Van.
Here’s the opening PR copy for more details…
“Local institution Pizzeria Farina brings its beloved brand of Northern Italian cuisine across Burrard Inlet when it opens the doors on Farina a Legna in the heart of North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale District at 119 2nd Street East this Thursday, September 19.
Open from 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday with late night happy hour beginning at 9 p.m., Farina a Legna (Italian for ‘flour on wood’) will offer an authentic Italian experience in a full-service ristorante with seating for 50. The space also features a grocery with handmade dry pasta, olive oil and assorted dry goods for purchase as well as a licensed streetside patio and waiting area for guests seeking take-out options.
The menu draws inspiration from sister restaurants Ask For Luigi and Di Beppe in a variety of insalate like burrata caprese and gli spinachi, antipasti such as polpette a legna, and other fare that changes with the seasons like risi e bisi and pesto Genovese.
The main focus of the menu is centered around a selection of Northern Italian-style hand-tossed pizze prepared in a brick, wood-fired oven that is kept at a lower temperature of 600 degrees Fahrenheit (rather than traditional Napolitana-style pizza at 900 plus degrees Fahrenheit) to achieve a lighter and slightly crispy crust, but with a good chew. The pizze menu features favourites from the Main Street location as well as new additions like: Ortolana, Bosciaola, and Prosciutto & Arugula.
In addition to a range of espresso-based beverages, Farina a Legna also offers a bar that features local craft beer and Prosecco on tap, housemade, bottled aperitivi such as Aperol spritzes, biciclettas and negronis in addition to vermouth and grappa, and Italian wine available by the glass and bottle.
Farina a Legna’s back-of-house team is led by Executive Chef Alessandro Vianello (Pourhouse) and Chef de Cuisine Jeffrey Tang, who moves to the new location from the kitchen at the original Farina location, while Angela Dean (Ask For Luigi) will oversee front-of-house operations as general manager.
“This is an exciting new addition to the Farina family,” says Vianello, who drew inspiration for the menu from his Northern Italian heritage and also spent part of his childhood growing up in North Vancouver. “I’m excited to bring some longtime menu favourites from our Main Street location to a North Shore neighbourhood that’s very familiar to me and also add a new, wood-fired flavour to the Farina menu.”
In terms of décor, Craig Stanghetta of Ste. Marie Design — the firm behind such award-winning restaurants as Como Taperia, Ask For Luigi and Savio Volpe — provided authentic, Italian-inspired elements like tin ceiling tiles, touches of natural wood, marble and copper, and a colour palette that intersperses mint, indigo and splashes of red. Local antiques dealer Scott Landon of Scott Landon Antiques & Interiors also provided curios, photos and vintage pieces that add to the old-country feel that echoes throughout the space.”
And here are some shots from last night…