I have been fortunate enough to experience Vancouver’s fine dining scene several times, and of course loved every moment, so when I got an invitation to dine at Umberto Menghi’s Il Giardino I was elated.
Situated at the end of Hornby Street at Pacific, Il Giardino transports you into another world the moment you walk through the door. The beautiful spacious patio was surrounded with vines and flowers – a real Tuscan feel.
I had two dining companions, both passionate food lovers. We instructed our server to stagger the food we ordered – she was wonderful, anticipating our every need, and was happy that we planned to stay awhile.
There is something so special about dining with people who love and appreciate food, who know the art of conversation well and are happy to gather together. The only moments of silence we experienced throughout the meal were when we were gobsmacked by flavor, staring at each other in wonder.
To start: A fresh salad with Buffalo mozzarella, greens, tomatoes, and vinaigrette. Also, lightly seared scallops with an amazing sauce, so good that we ended up dipping forkfuls of the mozzarella into it – gosh, so good. I would have loved a touch of acidity on the scallop, but it was amazing nonetheless.
We discovered that it was possible to request half orders of the pasta, which I liked. I ordered the Tortellini alla Panna, which was incredible. The pasta was delicate and a perfect home for the veal stuffed inside, and the cream sauce it was tossed in was decadently rich without being too heavy.
The kitchen is happy to serve food in ways that aren’t outlined on the menu, a fact that pleased us immensely. The Terminator took advantage of this, ordering a non-menu combination of three pastas as his entree. He combined the Chorizo Penne with the Spaghetti Carbonara and the Tortellini alla panna. I managed to snag a piece of chorizo before he finished, but I call him The Terminator for a reason! He was nearly finished by the time I looked up from my plate.
My Fair Lady ordered the gnocchi, it was served in a Gorgonzola cheese sauce, topped with walnuts and a balsamic glaze. She happily shared. Almost buttery in texture, the gnocchi was perfect.
I ordered the herb crusted rack of lamb, medium rare. It had to be one of the most tender lamb dishes I’ve ever had, falling apart with the mere prodding of a fork. Happy Kait.
Duckhorn Merlot was flowing throughout the entire meal, which only added to the warm ambiance we experienced. A neighboring table was celebrating a birthday, and one of the staff at the restaurant sang Happy Birthday to her in a beautiful opera serenade, prompting loud applause from the entire restaurant. Handed dessert menus, we looked at one another and knew we had to do it. We had to.
My Fair Lady ordered Gelato, which tasted so silky and light, a real treat.