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240 Seat Modern Italian Steakhouse Coming To Century Plaza’s Old “Beyond” Spot

When the Century Plaza Hotel at 1015 Burrard St. quietly shuttered its undersung “Beyond” restaurant back in January, few, if any, wept. Major renovations had been planned for sometime, and they’re now well underway. Taking its place is a gigantic modern Italian steakhouse called C | Prime, and helming the sprawling eatery will be chef Moreno Miotto, best known in Vancouver for his award-winning (but inexplicably short-lived) Bis Moreno restaurant on Hornby.

Miotto insists that C | Prime won’t be as fanciful or experimental as Bis Moreno. Nor will it serve regionally-specific Italian food or pan-Italian comfort food (as “Beyond” did after he took it over last year). To understand it, I think we need to go back to the 1990’s and the expense account joints that used to dominate New York and Toronto, powerhouse institutions like Prego Della Piazza and Centro that were neither mama nor mangiacake. Think carpaccio di filetto with truffle aioli, calamari fritti, spaghetti pomodoro, linguine vongole, Milanese-style veal chops, chicken and egglant alla parmigiana, long braise veal ossobuco, and a selection of steaks that range from petit filets to gigantic, bone-in “Fiorentina” monsters weighing in north of 40oz (with or without lobster).

I’ve seen the draft menu, and what I’ve listed above is pretty much what we’ll be getting, plus pizzas galore and a thick wine list with a walk-in showcase cellar (Tignanello, etc.) and 16 wines pouring from the long bar’s Enomatic machine. There’s even a shrine dedicated to grappa. The only thing missing is a cigar lounge.

If it all sounds expensive, that’s because it probably will be. Prices on the draft menu (subject to change, naturally) were setting each diner back $40 on the low end and close to $80 on the top end for a starter and a steak. Each. And that’s before wine, tax, and tip. While I love that they’re swinging for the fences like that, the high end market has tightened in the four years since Lumiere closed. So this is pretty bold, even with Miotto in the kitchen. Regardless, I’m confident diners will get what they pay for.

The decor I spied on my walk-through last week was a huge improvement on “Beyond” and what Alexandra Gill so bluntly dismissed as “spectacularly ugly” with “all the ambience of a morgue”, but it still had all the flavour of a hotel dining room. That sort of DNA is resistant to change, but then again, it was early days. They don’t open until late April so there’s much work left to be done, and since they’ll be serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch to 240 seats, it’s doubtful that anything approaching a sense of intimacy was ever even sought.

In the end, as Gill herself noted about Miotto, it’s his food that will decide things. This guy can cook like nobody’s business, and it really feels like he has the bit between his teeth here. Take a look…

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