Have you ever walked into a restaurant and known that you were going to love it without even seeing the menu? I have and it happened at Notturno Paninoteca in Gastown, right next door to the famous (or infamous?) Blarney Stone. The room is small and comforting, the décor is simple and elegant, the menu is small, focused and well executed and it has the cleanest washroom in all of Gastown (seriously). The staff are awesome and owner Scott McTavish is almost always in chatting with customers and making everyone feel at home. Feeling hungry after a fairly lacklustre event at another restaurant Lyndsey and I headed to Notturno with high expectations given what we’d heard from some fellow bloggers.
We shared 3 items from the small menu. First up was something recommended by owner Scott, Pasta di Vitello, veal stuffed ravioli with sage butter and Parmesan. Ya ya veal, if your not comfortable eating it then there’s more for me. I could live off of these little pockets of heaven. The sage butter and Parmesan were a perfect match to the tender veal stuffed raviolis. This dish is rich, very rich but the portion size (6) is perfect and at $11 it’s money well spent.
Next up we shared one of Notturno’s Paninos which are the core of their menu and what they’re named after. The “Tartufo” is layered with prosciutto, artichoke, caper, black truffle aoli and pecorino on amazing bread which is grilled to perfection in a panini press. Amazing, seriously amazing. Salty, rich, slightly acidic and all in perfect balance. This is more than just a sandwich and a deal at $9.50.
Last but certainly not least is desert. Notturno has created a dessert using Erin Ireland’s “To Die For” banana bread. The bread is stuffed with chocolate mascarpone and grilled in the panini press with a scoop of vanilla gelato on the side. If the rest of the menu was terrible and the place was filthy and the service was awful I’d still tell you to go try this desert, it’s that good. You should probably stop what you’re doing right now and point yourself towards Gastown and start walking.
Did I mention the world class Italian wines and unique Italian beer they have?
Twitter – @NotturnoGastown
Facebook – www.facebook.com/NotturnoPaninoteca