Gusto di Quattro chefs

I met with Nicholas Lim, Gusto di Quattro’s Executive Chef, on Friday afternoon to talk about the restaurant as well as this year’s Dine Out creations.

Nicholas has a background in French, Italian, and Asian cooking. He grew up in Singapore and has put his culinary stamp on Burnaby’s Hart House, The Red Door (formerly at 14th and Granville), and Caffé de Medici. Away from Gusto di Quattro, he enjoys preparing beef brisket, BBQ pork on rice, and noodles. Comfort food is also on his mind outside of working hours.

Gusto di Quattro opened in 1980 as Corsi Trattoria, named after owner Antonio Corsi. At the time, Lonsdale Quay did not yet exist and was a shipyard area. The first pasta roller in the city had its home here. The cuisine was Old-World Italian rustic cooking with a modern twist. In keeping with the original restaurant concept, Lim combines traditional Italian cuisine with new techniques. In 1994, many of the Corsi family’s signature recipes evolved when Quattro branched out to Kitsilano and opened Quattro on 4th Ristorante (Q4).

Gusto di Quattro’s menu is divided into classic and seasonal dishes, the location enjoying a steady clientele who continually seek the variety of offerings on both menus. A staff of seven work through lunch and dinner shifts.

When people walk into the restaurant, the kitchen is the first point of contact. Guests receive a personal touch when dining here and the chefs are accommodating to most requests, provided that the ingredients omitted or added will still complement the dish. Lim seeks to create dishes that can stand alone as well as compliment other menu items. With 14 tables, this is one of the smaller and thus more intimate Quattro locations.

Chef Lim sources sustainable and locally sourced ingredients as much as possible. “What makes this location fun to work in is the staff that get along well and the amazing amount and variety of ingredients to be found stocked in the kitchen. There’s even three types of bacon on hand.”

Gusto di Quattro has been a Dine Out participant from the start. According to Lim, “Because we have so many regular guests, we’ve decided to run the full menu during this period, with the addition of 11 dishes for Dine Out.”

Gusto di Quattro menu

The Dine Out three course menu is priced at $28. Guests can look forward to family style dining without the formal, stuffy restaurant atmosphere. Dishes are meant to be shared and enjoyed. Both the servers and chefs share a passion for food and wine.

Spaghetti: A lot of people wouldn’t think of combining crispy pancetta and olive oil-marinated red tuna in a pasta dish, but the ingredients work. The natural nectar from Porcini mushrooms together with Parmesan cheese make this Chef Lim’s favourite pasta dish, hands-down. The flavours are rich and stay with you. Both this dish and the Penne are from the classic recipe era.

The Crispy Duck Leg & Italian Sausage dish has been updated from an original peasant dish, Ciociara, the Italian word for peasant. Spaghetti Ciociara (‘Peasant Spaghetti’) was served early on at Quattro on Fourth. Ciociara, the dish, originally contained potatoes, cabbage, bits of pork, and stale wine. Gusto di Quattro took this dish and gave it a modern culinary twist by using fennel sausage, olive oil braised duck leg, and Pinot Grigio-braised savoy cabbage. The potatoes are cooked in onion broth with bay leaves to make it tender. This all gets roasted together with the duck and sausage.

And now for the food. I started off with several Dine Out selections and later tasted a few dishes from the main menu.

Chickpea and Roasted Garlic Soup
[Chickpea & Roasted Garlic Soup, Garnished with Fried Sage & Crispy Bacon]

The soup was so rich and tasty, without an overpowering of garlic. I am a huge fried sage fan. Along with the crispy bacon, this added a wonderful secondary flavour to the dish.

Baked Sweet Potato Gnocchi
[Baked Sweet Potato Gnocchi, with Fennel Mustard Cream & Chestnuts and a Drizzle of Fig Syrup]

This dish has anise, thinly-sliced fennel, onion, mustard with cream sauce, chestnuts roasted in-house, combined with sweet potato house-made Gnocchi. A drizzle of fig syrup adds to the array of flavours that hit you. This is one example of marrying Old-World Italian style with a modern twist on creativity!

Raspberry Sorbet
[Raspberry Sorbet With White Chocolate Mousse]

The delicate mousse flavour married very well with the burst of flavour found in the raspberry sorbet.

My husband joined me later for supper, where we sampled dishes from their main menu as well as a dessert that’s offered on both menus.

Grilled Bocconcini
[Radicchio Bocconcini, Wrapped with Prosciutto and Grilled Radicchio, Cherry Red Wine Reduction]

Tasty reduction and beautifully presented. The radicchio and prosciutto are so delicious together!

Tuna Carpaccio
[Tuna Carpaccio Garnished with Crushed Pepper, Capers, and Olives]

This dish contains nice thick pieces of tuna that are very lightly seared. Good balance with the olive oil, crushed pepper, capers, and olives.

Fettucine Bolognese
[Fettucine Bolognese]

A rich, slow-cooked dish containing pancetta, beef and pork, and finished with a tomato sauce. This was a fabulous dish where no one ingredient overpowered the other.

Linguine Pescatore
[Linguine Pescatore: Tiger Prawns Tossed with Lemon Zest, Chili, Garlic, Tarragon and EVOO]

The spinach, lemon zest, and tarragon made this such an enjoyable dish. As well, both pasta and shrimp were perfectly cooked.

Molten Chocolate Lava Cake
[Molten Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Gelato]

What a delightfully decadent way to end the supper! The chocolate inside the cake flowed from the first bite and the vanilla gelato heightened the flavour. A magical combination.

Mangia With Quattro

For a limited time, Quattro’s cookbook, Mangia with Quattro (autographed by owner Antonio Corsi), is available for $25 to couples who dine at the Lonsdale Quay location. The book normally sells for $29.95. Launched two years ago by Antonio Corsi, Patrick Corsi, and Tannis Tsisserev, this book pays homage to the classic recipes as well as giving a modern twist to tried and true dishes. This should help to inspire Italian suppers at home.

Hop on the Sea Bus and enjoy this lovely restaurant. Buon Appetito!


  • Comment by Cheryl — January 23, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

    OMG, insane photos!! Now I’m seriously considering adding this restaurant to our Dineout list. Getting hungry 😉

  • Comment by Noel Hurtley — January 23, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

    Looks delicious!

  • Comment by Jules Parker — January 24, 2011 @ 10:02 am

    Nicholas and team! Can’t wait to see you and taste some of those amazing foods on your menu.
    It’s been too long!

  • Comment by arianec — January 24, 2011 @ 10:43 am

    Thanks, Noel. It was a great chance to try, photograph, and write about several tasty dishes in one afternoon 🙂

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