It was one hour into tomato season at Oca Pastificio and we—my coworkers Frances, Jillian, Kristen, and I—had found ourselves at the best seat in the house. We were at Vancouver’s most coveted Italian restaurant, sipping Dolcetto d’Alba, about to embark on the pasta tasting menu. There’s a reason people line up for this place.
After two hours of savouring every bite, we paid our bill ($118 per person after tax and tip) and floated out the door in a pasta dream state.
Highlights for me were their signature rotolo dish, where the four-cheese filling was pillowy like merengue, and the Sungold tomato taglierini, which had an almost lobster-like flavour. Both dishes surprised me with their less is more approach to pasta.
The ambiance at Oca was intimate, vibrant, yet casual, as if we were at a friend’s dinner party in a tiny apartment. With only 22 seats in a 900 sqf space, it’s not all that far off. Antoine, co-owner and front-of-house leader, made sure we had VIP treatment. Though I’m sure it helped that Frances had been there many times before.
The only challenge I had was not fully hearing what was served to us as it arrived. Was that tagliatele he said? Taglierini? I heard duck ragout, but I didn’t hear the pasta. Etc. Menus aren’t posted online, they’re only on the chalkboard by the bar, yet are totally irrelevent for a tasting menu anyway: every item is explained verbally as it is brought to the table.
Ultimately, though, it didn’t matter. It was all glorious. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
I am closely checking the date of this post to ensure that I was not in Vancouver that day and therefore will not feel the pang of missing out on this amazing gastronomic experience (and super reasonable too). Fare to say your post put this on the top of my list for a next time.
Happy to hear that, Margaret! Definitely go to Oca. You must! But they’ve since been recognized in the Vancouver Michelin guide, so beware – they might be busier than they ever have.
Also, I originally wrote this in August 2022. My blog frustratingly removes the date of publication whenever I edit it, but the original date’s embedded in the URL.
You’ll also want to speak to Frances about this. Frances goes there several times per year. The staff know her by name. When we arrived, they treated her like an old friend.