The Poor Italian is a restaurant on East 1st Avenue that showcases fresh handmade pastas, meat dishes including sausages and hams that are cured in-house, seasonal vegetables and other local ingredients.
We had heard good reviews from friends and co-workers with the food, ambiance and service. They got 1/3 correct, the ambiance is terrific, good table size, layout and plenty of room to stretch. We decided to try the dine out for $38. The service was lackluster at best, as the host was nonchalant and the waitress and disinterested. Considering it was a Sunday night and we were in high spirits, it did not bother us. Our first plates were the beef carpaccio and caprese salad, both came out very quickly. The beef disintegrated on contact and over salted. This had been prepared in advance and was sitting in the fridge somewhere for way too long. The caprese was ok and again over salted. The entrees selected were the sablefish and seafood pasta. The sablefish was warm, not hot as freshly cooked seafood should be. My wife's tiger prawns, even though they were large, came out raw. Again, both entrees came out less than 5 minutes after the appetizer. The only saving grace were the desserts, the tiramisu was the best dish. For what we paid for, we could have ordered from the regular menu and actually got some freshly cooked Italian food, the way it should be done. Instead, we ended up with overpriced and underwhelming food. I could think of a multitude of other restaurants in the same price category with better value and quality.
Friendly personable service. The staff was very attentive and professional.
Quaint atmosphere. Don't be fooled by the location or the outside appearance. Inside is very nice.
Good food. Presentation and quality of food was high. Good value.
Been twice. Will go back. This is a good spot for a couples or families.
Great location makes access very easy from almost anywhere.
Another lovely meal with my parents, this time at Poor Italian. We have been here several times and have never been disappointed.
The bread basket is always amazing, with a large selection of flavours and textures. But be careful, don't fill up on the bread, lots of yummy pastas to come!
Just a perfect swirl of butter to enhance the freshly heated bread. It's room temperature, so you don't tear apart your bread trying to get some on it.
I picked the wine tonight, and we went with a Petite Syrah - Bogle. A bit too rich for my mom, but my stepdad and I both enjoyed it. Pairs well with our dishes too.
My mom wanted something light (as in non-meaty) so she ordered their Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms. Since it was done with brown butter sauce, this wasn't exactly a light dish. Topped with some pecorino and sage this was a real comfort dish. But it was so rich she ended up taking half of it home,
My stepdad and I decided to share the lamb, and it was a generous portion as well. Lots of potatoes and grilled veggies accompanied the dish. Had we known that this was such a large meal, we probably wouldn't have ordered a pasta dish as well.
My all-time favourite pasta is Tagliatelle with Pappardelle being a close second. Their tagliatelle was in a gorgonzola cream sauce, which was too rich for me. So we went with the Pappardelle with Braised Veal Cheeks an in a fresh thyme and red wine sauce. We have a winner!
We had asked for the lamb to be done medium rare, and it was. Juicy on the inside with just a little pink, but nicely grilled and charred on the outside too.
This evening our manager took us for an 'appreciation dinner' to show her appreciation of our work over the past year. She asked for suggestions and I mentioned Poor Italian, as I know she's a fan of Italian cuisine as is another of my coworkers and it's not too far from our workplace. I had been to this restaurant on two prior occasions. The first time, a few years ago, it was a group dinner and I had ordered a seafood linguine, which wasn't seasoned at all (though the linguine were cooked properly) and had little flavor. The only thing I really enjoyed was the warm bread which was really tasty, with plenty of olive oil in the focaccia. I thought this was maybe an off night for the chef and that he just forgot to season my dish. It can happen. The others in my group seemed satisfied with their fare. Service was OK.
I tried this place again when I took my father out for dinner, last year, as he likes Italian too. My dad had a pretty average looking carbonara (not really a rocket science dish which is easy to prepare) and I ordered a salad for myself which was quite mediocre. Service not so stellar and rather inattentive (ie we were left sitting there with dirty plates)
This evening was my third visit, as my manager and coworkers were game to try this restaurant. We had reservations for 5 pm. Given that it was a Tuesday night, I was surprised at the bad table we were given. It was right at one of the entrance points to the service area (kitchen) so I spent the entire time with a view of the kitchen. It was also chilly and drafty. Not sure why they stuck our small group of 5 there when there were other places to put us and the place did not fill up by the time we left at 7:30.
This is not a good place to dine for someone who has dietary restrictions ie if you do not eat meat, seafood and dairy, there is very little to choose from. Even a dish that could be prepared without meat ingredients such as the daily soup special of asparagus broccoli soup, was made with chicken stock and cream. I cautiously settled on gnocchi in a tomato sauce, as my only alternative choice, mushroom risotto, was made with (yep, you guessed it) meat based stock. I say cautiously because gnocchi are a tricky dish to make. I know good gnocchi .
I was served an enormous plate resembling a flying saucer, which had a hollow filled with a rather small mound of gnocchi (having skipped lunch, in prep for our dinner, I was disappointed at the small portion). Presentation was nonexistent - it was your basic piled up gnocchi with smears of tomato sauce; if it was supposed to have something green as a contrasting garnish (ie parsley or basil), I didn't see any sign of it.
Another of our party also opted for the gnocchi. I tried my first one and found it undercooked. The first few millimeters were cooked and the interior was like raw mushy gnocchi dough. I thought, hmm, maybe it's just one that didn't quite cook long enough. So I tried 4 more, all had the same nasty raw doughy texture. The sauce was very bland, underseasoned and nothing to rave about. Bland was the overall impression, other than the unpleasant texture of the undercooked gnocchi. The other diner who had ordered them found them to be the same, mushy. Neither of us was thrilled with our choice and gave up eating it. When the staff was alerted, a rather menacing large man came over - I don't know who he was, he didn't identify himself to me so not sure if he was the general manager. He loomed over me and attempted to lecture me on what gnocchi are supposed to be like.
Maybe he gets away with this attempt to intimidate and 'persuade' diners who are not happy with their gnocchi when the diners are not very familiar with this particular pasta type. I happen to have eaten heavenly gnocchi at home all my life. I wouldn't expect restaurant gnocchi to match up to my mamma's (exept perhaps in a truly top restaurant with a stellar chef) but I would expect them to be cooked, at the very least. These were not and a few minutes went by while the large man tried to persuade me these gummy, raw disasters were supposed to be that way. At length, seeing we were not willing to choke down the raw gnocchi, they were taken away and we were asked whether we wanted more gnocchi (a tactless suggestion). My friend opted for the lasagna and I asked whether they could make me spaghetti aglio olio. I figured they couldn't mess that up as it's one of the simplest of pasta dishes.
My friend's lasagna was to her satisfaction but from the moment I saw the plate of spaghetti, I knew by their appearance that I wasn't going to be able to eat my second choice of entree either. One of my group had ordered a seafood linguine and I could see it was made from fresh linguine. She was satisfied with her food. My spaghetti was obviously made from dry pasta, which was fine with me, but it wasn't fine with me that it was barely cooked. I was reminded of a Saturday Night Live sketch with Father Guido Sarducci cooking spaghetti for his dog. He took a strand of spaghetti out of the pot to ask the dog to test it to see whether it "was-a ready" and the thing had barely bent slightly from its immersion in the boiling water. My spaghetti was not 'a-ready' either. I could tell (and so could the person seated next to me) from its appearance that it was barely cooked, it still had the translucency of dry pasta. On an 'al dente' scale of 1 - 10, with say 4 being a normal al dente state, these were about an 8 or 9. They were getting stuck between my teeth like supersized hard dental floss.
Besides the undercooked state of the spaghetti, whichever of the chefs prepared this disaster didn't put a whole lot into this dish, which, when prepared properly, doesn't sit atop a pool of oil and is garnished with fresh parsley. Just as I know good gnocchi, I know good spaghetti aglio olio. This was not the good kind. I gave up eating it and was managing to at least have some good laughs with my pals over my non-dining experience. The only thing I filled up on somewhat was a couple of small olives, put out on the table along with the bread. Here again, disappointment...I had looked forward to the bread, remembering my first visit and how we had all loved the warm focaccia and lovely variety of breads served while we waited for our food. This time the breads were cold, the focaccia crumbly and the baguette-like bread was hard and chewy. This was basically what I got to eat at Poor Italian so maybe it is well named after all, as I had a real poor man's meal tonight! Bread dunked in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Of the other entrees ordered by my group, the seafood linguine, the lasagna and seafood risotto passed muster with them. My friend who opted for a ravioli dish reported that parts of the ravioli were undercooked. There seems to be a theme developing here...undercooked (maybe the chef on the pasta station needs some remedial classes). He didn't sound too over the moon about his entree and I think he enjoyed his bruschetta appetizer more than the main. Three of my party tried desserts and the double espresso creme brule was deemed delicious as was the Millefoglie. The presentation of the desert plates made up for the lack of presentation on the entrees.
Service was attentive and the waitress told me 'we will pay for the spaghetti', so presumably they did a post-mortem in the kitchen after the busboy asked me whether I wanted the uneaten (and inedible) spaghetti wrapped up and I told him no, it was undercooked and inedible. I was glad as my boss was picking up the tab and would have felt bad if she paid for that inedible mess.
This place could be good if only it were consistent and the kitchen not staffed with hit & miss chefs. I won't be returning here or recommending this place to anyone. After this third strike, they're out.
It was a friend's birthday earlier this month and we finally got a chance to get together tonight to celebrate. It was our first time here and it was the second time for our other friend. We started with the antipasto - nice variety. For dinner, I had the chicken breast stuffed a sundried tomato and goat cheese and my friends had linguini with crab and mushroom risotto. Our meals came piping hot (good sign!). We enjoyed our meals but the service could have been better. It was difficult to understand her (no, she wasn't ESL) as her tone of voice gave us the impression that it was a chore to provide a decent explanation when we asked questions about the menu. We'd come back again but hopefully we get a server that understands what good customer service is all about - a smile would have been nice too.
I booked our meal a day in advance and then checked the website for the exact address for the cab. After I read the reviews I was a wee bit scared. I really don't understand the negative reviews. Our waiter, Joe, was very friendly and knowledgeable. The food came at proper times and we were allowed to enjoy it without being rushed. There was a lot of help if we needed it. It was our 29th anniversary and they made it very special. We will be coming back because we want to try more items on the menu. Thanks for making a special day more special.
Me and my boyfriend were looking for a nice italian place to eat, so we came across Poor Italian (on Rupert st. and 1st ave)...big mistake
We thought this was going to a nice, quaint place but as we walked in we saw an out of date ferrari in the managers stall and a valet with no real purpose as the parking lot was extremely cramped and tiny.
The food was ok, the service was pretty good i suppose except for the fact that the waitress led us to believe that the soup and salad were included in our meal, by saying "what kind of soup or salad do you want with your meal?" so of course we accepted and asked for our appetizers we both thought were included.
First they gave us a bill which was the wrong one (over charging us by almost $100)
Then we got the actual bill and we saw that they charged us more than $20 for the soup and salad, and we were a bit shocked, so i talked to the manager about it, just letting him know that it would have been nice to know that the salad and soup were not included, we werent expecting a discount but he kept repeating that they didnt come with the meal, and that they were seperate (well I know that now) The manager didnt even say he was sorry for the mistake, neither did our server she just repeated the same thing to me.
We quickly realized that this unprofessional manager was failing to make this mediocre restaurant into a so called "fine dining restaurant"
he should first start by training his staff properly for a "fine dining" restaurant. They didnt even clear the table when we were finished our appetizers and meals, or supply us with the proper cutlery.
IS IT JUST ME OR HAS THE PROFESSIONALISM IN VANCOUVER DISSAPEARED???
As someone who has worked in fine dining as a server, the customer is ALWAYS right.....................
My wife and I happened by The Poor Italian by convenience as we were in Burnaby and heard Jurgen Gothe's glowing review of the restaurant, so we gave it a try.
The frustrating thing about Italian cuisine in Vancouver is that many restaurants, even those who purport to be 5-star ones, lost focus of the thing that really matters; the food. In trattoria's in Italy (which this is modeled after) the ingredients are the star of the experience and the same goes here. Having spent time in Italy, I have always been let down in my search for a favourite Italian restaurant in town. My search is over.
We started with Carpaccio with Mushrooms and Truffle Oil. Amazing!
For mains, my wife had the Ossobucco, which was braised in red wine with a risotto that she still can't stop talking about.
I had a Pappardele with Veal Cheeks that was prepared perfectly
Service from Gianfranco Loi was exceptional with lots of attention to detail, far more than a trattoria would normally warrant.
Ambiance is traditionally Italian; warm and inviting but not trying to be too hip.
I've read some early reveiws and can't for the life of me understand if the reviewer was eating at the same restaurant or not. This restaurant could easily compete with some of the higher-end over-rated Italian restaurants in town. With cocktails, wine, appys and dinner, the bill came to just over $100, which is ridiculous given the care and attention the chef gives you at this east side jewel.
Go now. It's worth the drive.
Coming home from PNE and traffic was stopped on Hwy 1, so took the Rupert exit and found this restaurant. We were quickly shown to a cozy corner table. Very nice decor and the tables were beautifully set. Soft jazz playing made for a relaxed atmosphere. Our waiter was quickly there to take our drink orders and then to bring a bread basket with fresh baked Italian, Focaccia and flat breadsticks with herbs. Delicious! We skipped the appetizers and went straight for the pasta. I had the rigatoni with Italian sausage. Tasty with a thick rich sauce and chunks of Italian sausage. Daughter had the linguine with pesto, which she declared the best ever, and my wife had the warm spinach salad with fried goat cheese. The Maitre d', Gianfranco Loi, came to our table to introduce himself and ensure that we were satisfied. He chatted briefly with us, and then it was desert time. We ordered the chocolate gelato, which was served on a bed of whipped cream and topped with a chocolate spear and shaved curls. Great finish to our meal. We loved this experience, and will definately come again when we are in this neighborhood.
I dined at the Poor Italian Restaurant last night and immediately felt comfortable and at home in this classey atomosphere. The staff as very attentive and we able to offer something not on the menu. It was delicious and were served without feeling we had to wait. The menu offered the perfect variety and was very affordable.
We will be back!
I had been to the Poor Italian several times last winter. My family and friends have enjoyed many wonderful evenings there. The service and food have gone from wonderful to outstanding since my last visit in the spring.Coming back in July we enjoyed many new dishes and look forward to our next visit.
Don't look at the outdated reviews try the poor Italian for yourself.
My first visit was back in February while the original chef was still in the picture. It was fantastic and we were looking forward to bringing the whole family in the next few months. Just before our second visit, I went online to look at the menu again and realized that some items had changed and prices had increased... hmmm. I checked here for some recent reviews and like Adam, was almost scared off but the family had already made reservations so we went ahead with our plans.
Starters were crab bisque, pan-seared calamari, and antipasto platters. Although our platters were given to the wrong table and we had to wait for ours to be remade, it was worth the wait! Main courses were Mushroom Risotto, Seafood Risotto, Gnocchi Pomadoro, Salmon with Scallops (daily special), and mom, who eats like a bird, scarfed down an entire plate of Veal Limone! The entire family is Italian, except for myself, and we all enjoyed every single morsel of our dinners! One guest commented that the gnocchi was better than his mother's. This almost created a riot!
I'm glad we didn't let other reviews scare us off. Try it for yourselves.
After reading all the hate for the Poor Italian I have avoided trying this restaurant despite a recommendation from a friend. For a number of reasons, I ended up there last evening and was generally pleased. Before dispensing my review, I must say, so many of the posts for this restaurant are exactly why I have not re-entered the business. Yes, everyone who pays is entitled to their opinion. However, some opinions just make me shake my head, especially when I have a look at the poster’s other reviews.
Without further adieu, my experience at the Poor Italian was good and quite obviously in contrast to many of the other reviewers. The ambiance was nice and the service attentive. For a starter I had the calamari with capers. This was the low point of my meal. The broth was far too salty and this made the dish quite harsh. Next I had the rigatoni with sausage and caramelized eggplant. It was excellent, with the eggplant being the star of the meal. In fact, I would love to have a big dish of rigatoni with just the eggplant. Fantastic! Next, I had one of the dinner specials, sockeye salmon involtini wrapped around a diver scallop in a light cream sauce. The salmon was cooked as I like it, still translucent in the middle. It showed a deft touch and was very good.
The bottom line is that the Poor Italian could be better, but overall my experience was good and I will return.
So long and good bye. Don't bother making the effort to dine at this establishment. I was entertaining clients over lunch, we were the first to arrive. Obvious friends of an employee or owner arrived just after us and they recieved all the service that should have been offered to the other patrons. The waiter's shirt needed to be pressed, the hostess needed a bigger top to cover up with and the bus person looked like he was also the dishwasher. Not very apealing and we hadn'rt even ordered yet! Seriously, there are too many great Italian restaurants in Vancouver. Don't waste your time and money here.
My husband and I have been fans of Chef Gianni Picchi since his days spent in Victoria where he raised his two wonderful children. He is one of the few Chefs left in this town that has an abundance of knowledge, outstanding talent and insight to the restaurant industry. We have enjoyed many meals and memories with him and his food. We were exctatic to hear that he finally surfaced to share with us his magic that he creates in his kitchen. Only to find that he ended up on the East side which was a shame we didn't have him closer but it was a trek well worth making. It was even a greater surprise to see his son working by his side again,they always made our evenings and the odd lunch well worth our drive. We are sad to hear that after spending time in Italy he has come back to a few surprises and well as my title states, he has left The Poor Italian!! It is too bad the reviews I have read here on your site from the diners that had such a bad experience there. This is not what our experiences were like, far from it. Restaurants come and go, we were sure this one was here to stay. However without Chef Gianni I am afraid it has lost its driving force with his departure. Good luck to those left behind and we look forward to seeing where the Master turns up again.
we (4 of us) have whanted to try this place for a wile now.
We leave in the neighbourhood and have seen this location change heands with crappy restaurants so many times.
We kind of got exited looking at the renos they have done. and we really like Tony Parsons.
Unfortunatelly the rest is, as they say, history.
1) The food: (after all that is the main reason you go to restaurants)
POOR a)Carbonara b) risotto with seafood c)linguine with seafood d)prawns entree.
a) Carbonara, sorry but the worst ever.
b) Risotto with seafood under cooked, bland, over all POOR, Contrary of what north american thing risotto is not soupposed to be al dente, or mushed for the metter, but just cooked, this one was hard and luking of all sorts of flavour.
c) linguine with seafood well the pasta is soupposed to be al dente and they were not, over cooked and expecially this one no flavour what so ever. On top of it every one of the pasta dishes came served luke warm?????
d) I personally thing seafood should be served with risotto or some kind of rice dish, but after tasting my sis in low risotto I was happy I got potatoes,
the prawns were well seasoned and good, the rest of the dish was taistless and not warm
My husband took me to the Poor Italian for my birthday without reservations on a Sunday night. We were seated immediately but upon showing us to a tiny table in a dark corner, I sat down and the hostess says to me, "oh you don't want to face the wall, do you?" I thought to myself, I wouldn't be facing the wall if we weren't seated in a small, squishy corner of the restaurant. (The restaurant was not full by any means.) So, feeling embarrassed, I squished myself in the other seat where I faced my husband instead and behind me was another party. Our server came to us quickly and asked us if we wanted drinks. He also was quick to get our order for dinner. I had questions about a dish and he answered it as if I was supposed to know what the names of the dishes meant. My husband asked about the Spaghetti Carbonara and inquired whether it was a clear sauce, with which the server answered yes. We also ordered the Calamari with Spicy Sausage as an appetizer. The appy was smaller than I expected for the price but the red sauce it came in was delicious, unlike the spicy sausage which didn't have any flavor to it. If you don't like calamari that's not deep-fried, don't order this dish as it is just boiled squid rings, which I liked but my husband didn't care for.
Our main dishes came - Spaghetti Carbonara for my husband and Tortellini with Prosciutto and peas for me. My dish was a bit undercooked and the cream sauce was not infused with the pasta. The spaghetti carbonara did not come as a clear sauce with the pasta and according to my husband was salty - so salty that it tasted bitter. I love salty foods (hence the prosciutto in my dish) so I switched with my husband. I can handle salty dishes pretty well but this dish was exactly as my husband described...so salty that it was bitter. It tasted like a dish of salt...which was disgusting.
We were both wishing that we had a better experience because the restaurant had a nice ambience - very nicely decorated. Unfortunately, we left with a bitter taste in our mouths...
We made a 630pm reservation on a weekday. The restaurant was PACKED. Like most people, we were unable to find parking in their parking and did streetside parking in the neighourhood.
The free bread was okay but not freshly baked. (Sorry,I'm used to getting freshly baked bread at Italian & French restaurants.)
The oyster soup was GREAT. So was their Calamari and Spicy Sausage. After that we waited some 45min for our entrees. Lasagne was mediocre; I'm sure we cooked better at home. The Osso Bucco was underseasoned and the accompanying risotto was very slightly undercooked and flat.
The prices are definitely more affordable than other restaurants in downtown Vancouver. The portion sizes are generous. It was a little too dark for me to appreciate the ambience. I could hardly read the menu! (Hey they published their lunch and dinner menu online!)
I would go again on a quieter day. I'm sure their food and service would be better then!
Upon seeing that there was going to be a new Italian restaurant in the `hood, we eagerly anticipated its openning.
After deciding to make a reservation for 7pm we were advised that the earliest was 9pm and decided to take it.
Unfortunately the parking lot is a touch small so we drove around the block to park.
The Poor Italian has a great look from the front and fairly nice inside.
We were seated as soon we arrived, however, we did have to wait for a waitstaff to notice that we had been seated. After that minor hiccup, we were very well attended to by our british waiter.
It was also a nice touch that the chef was making his rounds and introduced himself to us.
So.. I`m not itai but my boyfriend is and he realizes that Italians from different parts cook differently.
So we order:
Appies - I order straitella and he orders eggplant parma. As I said earlier, I`m not Italian but I know that the soup is not supposed to have a large clump of egg (almost to the point of being an omellette soup) but nice lovely strings of eggy goodness. Our server saw my dislike for the soup and tried to offer me something else... He also told his manager, and the manager came over and offered me something else.. I declined but said he could take away my soup. The eggplant parma was ok... but not up to his calabrese standards.
Main - I order osso bucco and he orders the veal chop. The osso bucco was fairly good. The risotto was cooked on the more dente side of al dente but not bad. The veal chop was suprisingly large portion, cooked well but there was no sauce.
All in all try the soup, let me know what you think.
The service was good but in the end they did not take off the soup off our bill. I think that if a manager has to come over and takes away the soup, out of principle they should take it off the bill.
After seeing all the media coverage for this place and driving past it time and time again, finally decided to give it a try for lunch. Was a bit concerned after the previous review, but luckily got past that and got a great dining experience. Was very impressed on the decor of the restaurant. Looks like it could have easily have been somewhere in Yaletown. Service was very nice and we had a very pleasant server. It wasn't overly busy for a Monday lunch hour, but did pick up over time. The bread basket we got served with oil and vinegar was fresh and abundant. We decided to try the pasta for lunch. I had the quattro frommagia (4 cheese) chocolate rainbow bowtie pasta. You can't really taste the chocolate, so think it was more for the coloring effect, but probably for the best as i don't think chocolate and pasta would go that well together. :) My friend had the linguini with clams. Both were very good. Portion size was a nice normal lunch size. That left me enough room to try the tiramisu, which was really good. You can tell it was really fresh and was made with all the good ingredients. Overall a very satisfying lunch. I will definitely go back to try dinner as that Osso Buco really sounded good. Even would be a nice place to maybe go for dessert and coffee in the neighborhood.