Paul Grunberg and Craig Stanghetta already had plans for a fourth restaurant pre-covid. The project has been in the works since early 2020 – and a foregone conclusion for even longer than that. But it wasn’t until they toured the 4,200 square-foot space at 540 West 17th Avenue, just off of Cambie Street (previously a mechanic shop), that they knew their vision had found a home.
Competing offers, site upgrades and pandemic-related setbacks affected their ideal timeline, but rather than rush or push, Grunberg and Stanghetta (together with Emily Goodrich, Operations Director Jason Cisneros and Culinary Director Phil Scarfone) used the time to look inward – reviewing their values, brand, team and big-picture objectives. Deliberate moves were made on all fronts – some easy and and some hard, but all intentional and made with the objective of bringing service, food, culture and story into an identity so dialled-in that it would elevate the dining and working experience at each of the Volpi restaurants.
The intense and thorough internal review conducted behind the scenes provided the team with the cohesiveness and direction to form Banda Volpi, the parent name, backstory and guiding set of principles that define and inform the gang of foxes that Vancouver knows as Osteria Savio Volpe, Caffè La Tana, and Pepino’s Spaghetti House.
With clarity, conviction and motivation to take their restaurant group to the next level, Banda Volpi is now ready to introduce its newest member of the family: Osteria Elio Volpe.
Elio Volpe will feature a high-ceilinged 115-seat dining room (designed by Ste Marie Studio) bearing some similarities to its relatives – but if Pepino is ‘dark and moody’, Savio ‘rustic and earthy’, and La Tana ‘classically pretty’, the new West Side Volpe – whose name, Elio, means ‘sun’ – takes inspiration from “the best of Italian hospitality, lust for life, and a deep love of food, but through a new, sunnier lens – sun-kissed, seafaring, laid back and fresh.”
What that translates to, design-wise: Interiors that are airy and sun-drenched, with flashes of herbaceous greens and grounding wood. Expect to see plaster, stucco, tiles and stone typical of the Southern Italian climate, as well as custom furniture (brought over from Italy) and site-specific art by Edoardo De Falchi. There will be a mixture of table, booth and bar seating, with an increased number of the latter intending to capture (and amplify) the unique energy that a central bar brings to an Osteria setting.
Elio’s menu will offer Southern Italian cuisine using the best ingredients culled from the Pacific Northwest. Culinary Director Phil Scarfone and his team have been working to lock in a line-up of crispy Roman-style pizza flavours and briny seafood-forward dishes: “Think squid ink linguine al granchio e vongole with Dungeness crab and jalapeño; grilled giant prawns with salsa verde; and risotto al limone with sea urchin – featuring local produce, fresh pasta, plenty of Sicilian olive oil.”
From the sounds of it, Elio will be the clever, charismatic and playful cousin – and a bit of an agitator. Put more compellingly: “Where Savio Volpe is wise and suave, Elio Volpe is young, carefree and curious,” says Grunberg, “He is the fox that slides up beside you at the bar and slips you his number on the back of a napkin.” Vancouver’s West Side has been missing a streak of well-meaning mischief (and straight-up fun) for too long, and I’m excited to see what a little bit of Volpe charm can bring out of the neighbourhood.
Foxes are known for being handsome, mischievous and sly. They are also charming, loyal, agile and resourceful. If foxes were humans, I’d want a few as friends myself. And if they were businesses, they would be the ones I’d bet on for success.
If all goes smoothly, Elio Volpe will officially open doors in January, 2024. Plans are to be open for dinner seven days a week, with weekend brunch service. Stay informed.