Rino Tessuti used to be a pirate—at least, back in Italy, he played one on TV. In 1977, he and his wife Lina moved to Vancouver to open an Italian restaurant, dubbing it Il Corsaro, which translates to “The Pirate.”Although the Tessutis retired in 1982, their partners and friends Mario and Marie Pagan, as well as the Pagan's son Joe, a chef, work to maintain the quality fare and swashbuckling spirit of the original restaurant. Inside the dining room, booths and tables glow in the warm light from low-hanging lamps and burnt-orange walls. 16 types of sauces slather traditional pastas such as fettuccine and gnocchi, and chefs also create heartier entrees such as veal osso bucco.
Owner-manager Robert Klaus shows his commitment to sustainable, regional fare from the likes of Fraser Valley and Lake Louise by filling colorful plates on the dark wood tables spotting Lava Dining and Lounge. Locally sourced ensembles, such as roasted Fraser Valley free-range chicken breast with mushroom and sage bread pudding or braised Canadian lamb shank, earned the eatery the title "Best New Restaurant Outside Vancouver" from Straight.com's 2011 Golden Plate awards. In the kitchen, the eatery's prized chef sears duck and decks plates with seasonal veggies as servers complement the menu with an evolving selection of British Columbia wines and house cocktails. During clement weather, Robert's team situates patrons on the lush patio where lofty greenery, flowers, and table umbrellas shield diners from roving stegosauruses. Inside, servers scuttle across matte wood floors framed by muted orange walls and pass plates to tables flanked by black leather chairs.
During the winter at Stomping Grounds Coffee House, guests can look over the steam of their coffee cups and out toward a rolling meadow surrounded by ranch-style fences. The windows and walls are rolled away during the summer, leaving the shop open to the warmth of Osprey Village.
Whether hunkering down or enjoying a breath of fresh air, guests can dig in to specialties such as fresh juices, organic coffee, housemade turkey chili, ham-and-swiss sandwiches, and locally made pastries. The eatery fires breakfast specialties for early risers, and it also arranges catering platters for large parties.
Using authentic Italian and regional recipes, East Side Mario's chefs craft extensive menus at the Langley and North Vancouver locations filled with pastas, meat dishes, and kid-friendly fare. Pizza kneaders hand-press and cattle-brand Sicilian-style thin-crust pizzas ($8.99+ for a small) piled with toppings such as pepperoni, pineapple, and capicollo before loading them in stone ovens to brown and crisp. Oven-baked penne bolognese ($14.99+) emerges from the fire in a bath of alfredo sauce, and red- and green-striped ravioli stuffed with four cheeses ($16.99) greets mouths with festive flavours and a seasonal wardrobe. The eatery also carries kid-friendly options in its Mini Mario's Meals, such as a kid-size chicken parmigiana ($7.99) and chicken strips with seasoned fries ($6.99).
The chefs at Browns Socialhouse cheerfully wrestle palates with an array of dishes fusing international influences with traditional comfort fare. After perusing the menu, diners can choose to dig to the Boursin cheese center of parmesan-crusted stuffed chicken, first spooning through a layer of red-pepper sauce ($17.95). Utensils harpoon rice-wrapped segments of the spicy tempura tuna roll ($9.95), and hands divide slices of margherita pizza topped with bocconcini and fire-roasted tomatoes ($9–$11.65) to share or barter for the salt and pepper shakers. Chefs blend, hand-press, and grill beef patties before graduating them to the hickory burger, which they top with a crown of smoked bacon, cheddar, and barbecue sauce ($13.65).
Within The Fireside Coffee's cozy shop, which is warmed by the flames of its namesake fireplace, baristas steam signature lattes, pour drip coffees, and plate a variety of pastries. In addition to lattes infused with about 25 different flavours, the café slings steamy soups and paninis as pressed as a steamroller's tux. The staff also inspires celebration with seasonal drinks and treats, which guests relish while soaking up sun on the patio or cozying up in plush armchairs indoors.