Sprezzatura Vancouver

Open for just over a month, Sprezzatura is a welcome addition to the Mount Pleasant dining scene, tucked right at the intersection of East 11th and Kingsway, at the base of housing complex The Duke and across the street from newly-opened The Independent.

The interior is cozy and detail-rich, with tiled walls, a variety of light fixtures, a glass panel in the open prep station from New York City’s Rockefeller Center (sourced from a Surrey, BC antiques dealer) and fun design touches courtesy of designer Sophie Burke.

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It’s a well-lit, open and welcoming space. Shelves are stocked with products from locally-sourced Pallet Coffee to Italian pastas, tins of tomatoes, glassware and wines. There’s a large industrial clock by the pizza oven and a row of large green lamps from a factory in The Netherlands (their antiques dealer appears well connected).

Each seat around the prep station and tables around the room sport an outlet and USB port. The restaurant opens at 10 am as a coffee shop with a daily baked goods selection prepared by two in-house bakers.

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From 5 pm onwards, Sprezzatura begins dinner service. (Stuffed Italian sandwiches will make their way onto the day menu in the near future).

Owner/fifth-generation Vancouverite Michael Parker’s vision for Vancouver’s version of a London gastropub, Sprezzatura offers up a menu divided by Neapolitan style pizza and roasts (both sablefish and chicken dishes are marinated, seared on cast iron and baked in the oven for a delightful crispy skin and great flavour).

The casual restaurant has become a fast favourite with locals, mums, entrepreneurs and families. Sprezzatura translates to “perfection without apparent effort” aka, effortless dining, which is what Parker hopes that diners will come to appreciate – nothing over the top – just simple, hearty food prepared with quality ingredients.

Growing up in New Brunswick, Executive Chef Jesse Jobin was brought up accessing daily-caught fish and shellfish directly from the fishing trollers. He’s manned the stoves at a wide range of establishments, including La Buca, Pied a Terre, La Quercia, Hawksworth, The Abbey, Heirloom Vegetarian and Peckinpah BBQ.  

The driving philosophy for Sprezzatura is not to reinvent the wheel but to simply create a space to enjoy fresh locally sourced food, cooked in house, just like my family would do when we hosted our friends and family.

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There are two ovens that service the meals prepared here: one for pizzas, the other for meats and roasts. Their culinary team includes an in-house VPN pizzaiolo trained in Naples; Michael explains to us that their custom-built pizza oven has a smaller opening than most ovens, so they can crank up the temperature to 900 degrees (the dome gets up to 1,000). This keeps the pizza’s ingredients moist and the crust nice and crispy, with a lovely toasted finish.

Using “00” flour that must pass a 100-hour fermentation process to produce “Verace Pizza Napoletana” dough makes for a pizza lover’s dream of a pie, meant to be enjoyed with a knife and fork.

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[Margherita Pizza]

Our Margherita pizza arrived at the table on a rack and we dug in, enjoying those simple ingredients including a mouth-watering mozzarella.

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[Farro & Cannellini Salad]

Out of the five salads on the menu, we selected the Farro & Cannellini — it’s a meal salad in itself, piled high on the plate and topped with shreds of Parmesan.

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[Aperol spritz]

This paired nicely with an Aperol spritz. Aperitifs, craft and bottled beer, cider, a respectable wine list designed by an in-house sommelier plus non-alcoholic drinks round out the choices.

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[Roasted Sablefish]

The roasted sablefish steak is served with a duo of cannellini beans with tomatoes and caponata, a Sicilian dish containing eggplant, herbs and other roasted veggies in a hearty sauce. These sides nicely break away from traditional potatoes or rice.

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[Grilled Salt Spring Island mussels]

A plate of grilled Salt Spring Island mussels followed, its tomato-based broth a great dipper for the crostini served alongside it. Fennel adds an additional layer of seasoning that’s not too overpowering either.

Joining a selection of 10 true Neapolitan pizzas are classic Italian starters, salads, sides and desserts. No stranger to Italian cuisine, Parker worked at Il Giardino and top London gastropubs, inspired by a visit to Positano, Italy’s Costantino’s.

If you’re not in the mood for pizza, there’s roasted pork belly, spicy meatballs, Mac and Cheese, mushroom lasagna, roasted sablefish, roasted chicken and braised Wagyu.

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[Top to bottom: Panna Cotta, Lemon Mousse with Lemon Poppy Seed Biscotti]

For a sweet finish, choose from classic Tiramisu, Panna Cotta (with seasonal fruit), a selection of ices, gingerbread pear cake with bourbon whipped cream plus a smooth, refreshing lemon mousse, which on this sultry Vancouver summer evening, went down just right.

Find Sprezzatura at 265 Kingsway in Vancouver. Non-watermarked images courtesy of Sprezzatura.

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