When Nick Felicella, owner of the 62-year establishment Nick’s Spaghetti House on Commercial Drive decided to retire, locals had a brief arresting moment of what would happen to their regular dining spot.
Restauranteurs Mark Perrier, Paul Grunberg and Craig Stanghetta, the team behind award-winning Osteria Savio Volpe, quickly stepped in with a vision to preserve the cozy and familiar vibe of the eatery that has contributed much to the history and growth of Vancouver’s Little Italy. The new name Pepino’s translates to ’Spaghetti Mouse’, which is the restaurant’s mascot as well as former owner, Nick’s favourite race horse.
The new owners envision a gathering place where guests who visit for dinner would run into other regulars who would eventually become friends over time. The team at Ste Marie Design was tasked with meticulously salvaging and lightly upgrading the space to retain its warmth and closeness, and the team delivered on this task by taking a page from 1950’s Italian glamour, creating a space outfitted in warm red hues, chandeliers, silverware and Roman and Greek inspired paintings.
You enter the restaurant through the narrow corridor pass the bar, whereby the space opens up into a dimly-lit dining room complete with ruby red carpets. Warm, light wooden planks envelope the room and the bar to add to the welcoming ambiance.
Here you can focus on enjoying the company you are with instead of worrying about the time, immersing yourself in conversation and classic Italian dishes.
Start your meal with appetizers that would go well with Pepino’s wine list, which has firm roots in Southern Italy, or select from the restaurant’s house-branded bottled Martinis, Manhattans and Negroni. Fancy something non-alcoholic? Sip on one of their seasonal fruit Italian-style sodas for a refreshing pick me up. For appetizers, our pick would be the fried olives, crisp and crunchy on the outside with juicy olives on the inside.
From the menu, expect hearty, classic dishes like Spaghetti Bolognese, Linguine and Clams with White Sauce and Fettuccine Alfred and Mushrooms, of course made with in-house fresh pasta. Their specials also serve up mouth-watering creations, such as the Lobster Fettuccine topped with a scrumptious lobster tail.
Those who opt to skip carbohydrates have plenty of options in the meat and seafood section, such as the Chicken Piccata served on roasted chili rosemary potatoes.
We also recommend you save room for dessert, as the portions are generous, especially the creamy Tiramisu ‘Bambolona' with coffee soaked ladyfingers and rich mascarpone. If more is more for you, then make room for the Almost Famous N.Y. Style Cheese Cake with Fruit Syrup.
All these family-style Italian favourites on the menu is best enjoyed with a bottle of wine for the table. Clear your evening schedule for Pepino’s, because you will want to settle in and savour the experience. One hour would simply not be enough - make it three.
Pepino’s Spaghetti House celebrates its one-year anniversary this June, so make sure to swing by and raise a glass to their success!
632 Commercial Drive, Vancouver, BC
Dinner served from 5PM 7 days per week
Photos by Florence Leung