Responding to an unfulfilled need I had to eat good, comforting Italian food, JT and I set out to find a good Italian restaurant in the vicinity of the Firehall Arts Centre, as we were going to see Mambo Italiano. We set our hearts on Nicli Antica Pizzeria but the wait was an hour so I made an executive decision to head to Incendio (also Italian, and in Gastown)
Vancouver’s historic Gastown on the corner of Columbia Street and Alexander in the old Anchor hotel. The space had operated for nearly 20 years as Al Forno, a restaurant that provided first dates for countless Vancouverites. By re-exposing all of the existing brick and opening up the kitchen to the diner’s view, we have managed to retain the heritage feel while still breathing new life into a comfortable and ambient room. Warmed by the now over 30 year old wood fired brick oven, Incendio lends itself to intimate dinner for two, or to a celebratory gathering of friends and family.
Many a time, I had been a customer of Incendio West (on Burrard Street, near 6th Avenue), but rarely have I come to Incendio in Gastown (coincidentally, always with JT), despite however close it is to my downtown office. So I was glad we got to visit again. In a strange turn of events, I ordered a Chicken Parmigiana with orzo pasta and veggies, an absolute success I might add ($15.99).
Chicken Parmigiana would not be a dish I would usually choose as any cutlets a la Parmigiana will have cheese on them). I think I was so hungry I completely forgot about the cheese. The above said, I really loved this particular dish. Incendio makes comfort food. And chicken Parmigiana is certainly one of their specialties. Inexpensive, tasty and filling.
The side of orzo (the rice-shaped pasta) was a nice companion (well cooked and flavourful) but I probably will order linguini or a different pasta next time. Also, it felt slightly sticky (like a risotto). Perhaps it’s that I’m used to orzo that doesn’t stick as much.
The chicken Parmigiana was cooked to perfection, with a tangy tomato sauce that blended really well with the breaded/melted cheese component. I was so hungry I basically inhaled it, but at the end, couldn’t eat more. I loved the ambiance and how spacious Incendio is (and how underrated it is, quite frankly). And while there were a number of occupied tables, it wasn’t packed.
The service was excellent, and I had an opportunity to chat with a couple waiters who were telling me a bit about the history of Incendio and how long they’ve worked there. Frankly, I completely understand how Incendio is sometimes forgotten because it’s located at a strange corner (Alexander and Columbia). But I will very strongly endorse it for a good evening/lunch comfort Italian food outing. Great menu as well.
Disclosure: I paid for both JT and my dinner’s on my own dime.