781 Denman Street
T: 604 568 4554
Brief Description: Nook fills the West End void of affordable and unpretentious Italian food. Think generous portions of scrumptious pizza and pasta for under $15.
Finally! After months of anticipation and numerous occasions of me staring longingly through the window, I can finally tick Nook off my wish list. A tiny restaurant with only 30 seats, Nook is tucked away on Denman Street, just off of Robson. This West End corner is a prime area but for some reason has had a hard time finding its groove. Sure there are a few stables, such as Kintaro Ramen and Kingyo, but since I’ve lived in the neighbourhood the Nook location has seen more than its fair share of coming and goings. After my experience with Nook on Monday night, I am feeling optimistic that that is now a thing of the past.
It was my sister’s birthday and so to celebrate we decided that it was finally time for Nook and Greedy Guys to become acquainted. As previously mentioned, the restaurant is small and they don’t take reservations so you may find yourself waiting for one of the few tables that they do have. If this is the case, perch yourself at the 12-seater bar and you’ll be eating way sooner. As a bonus, you will have front row seats to the prep area where (if you are anything like me) you will not be able to take your eyes off the efficient hands dancing around in front of you, slicing meats, ripping basil, drizzling olive oil…it is truly mesmerizing.
Nook offers West Enders something that they have been needing for a long time now: simple, affordable Italian food. The menu kicks off with a small number of tempting appetizers, ranging from crostini with white bean olive tapenade to a small selection of antipasto including, meatballs in tomato sauce or the delectable looking prosciutto with buffalo mozzarella. The appetizers range from $4 to $12, with only the charcuterie options at the higher end of the scale. The rest of the menu consists solely of pasta and pizza. That’s it, that’s all. There are six different pasta options (including linguine pesto with sundried tomatoes and spaghetti putanesca) and six different pizza choices (options include anchovies with olives and chillies, and ricotta with roasted tomatoes, olives, onions and garlic). $15 is about the average price for a pizza or for a pasta dish. Their specials menu also offers a pizza and pasta dish that varies daily.
Although we didn’t order appetizers we were offered a small tasting of the lusciously salty prosciutto, which was thinly sliced right in front of us. For our mains, both of us opted for pizza; my sister ordered the daily special; pancetta with chilli and I ordered the salami with black olives from the regular menu. As a foodie, I am always consciously (and even sometimes unconsciously) looking for the best food in town. Even without making a real effort to find it, Vancouver’s best pizza found me at Nook. Thin crusted, with only a light tomato base and generously covered with flawlessly seasoned meat, this is the type of pizza that puts pizza chains to shame.
Dessert was gloriously decadent and has had me thinking of not much else since. The Chocolate Budino is a new form of torture for my taste buds. Torturous only because everything else since doesn’t taste like the Chocolate Budino! Served in a glass and looking a lot like an espresso, I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but once my spoon dug deep into the glossy, thick, house-made caramel to find its way to the layer of rich chocolate pudding underneath, I could only think “Where have you been all my life?!”
Unfortunately, I was just too damn excited to remember to take a picture of it so all I have is this pathetic offering of a photo of a glass that has been scraped clean. Oops. Don’t worry; I will be going back for more so I’ll be sure to capture it soon.
Service was friendly and got pushed up a notch into the “great” category because we were given a complimentary dessert since it was my sister’s birthday. The restaurant itself feels intimate and welcoming. Dim lighting provides mood and bright red bar stools provide a boost of much needed colour.
Final Thoughts: Nook was well worth waiting for. With prices that are refreshingly affordable and food that is bound to impress, Nook provides a great alternative to the usual Korean and Japanese places of the West End.