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Several of my co-workers have continuously raved about Nook, so when some friends and I decided to go out for dinner, I suggested we check it out for ourselves. It’s a tiny little restaurant with a bar against one wall and one row of tables across the opposite wall. The restaurant was packed and there were 6 of us so we had to wait about 30 min for a table (they don’t take reservations.) Not bad considering it was downtown on a Saturday night. We ordered a bottle of white wine and several plates of food to share. The servings weren’t big and the prices were about average…but it was worth it. The wine, Moscato Secco Alasia (Piemonte) NV ($8.5 glass/$34 bottle) was a lovely fragrant fruity wine. It was slightly sweet with hints of lychee – delicious.
We started with their special that night – Caprese salad. The heirloom tomatoes were very fresh and flavourful. The sweetness of the tomatoes went wonderfully with the creaminess of the mozzarella di bufala and the balsamic vinegar and olive oil balance it out. All the hot dishes were piled high with parmesan cheese. We also ordered some Antipasto: Olives ($6) Focaccia ($6) and Meatballs ($10). The mixed assortments of olives were very good – served warm in a little dish with a bit of orange rind. The meatballs (5 to an order) were in tomato sauce, covered in parmesan cheese. They were a good size and perfect texture and flavour.
The focaccia was more like plain pizza dough (covered in a scoopful of parmesan) than the “bready” focaccia you normally find. I liked it, my boyfriend loved it. Since he’s Italian, his vote wins over mine on that. Regardless, I suggest you try it.
For our main dishes, we ordered two pizzas: Prosciutto and Italian sausage, and two pastas: Rigatoni Boscaiola and the evening’s pasta special.
The first pizza to arrive was the Italian sausage, chilies and sweet onions ($17). It was a little bit sweet from the onions, a little bit spicy from the chilies and terrific Italian sausage. The thin crust and all its toppings were cooked to perfection.
(Italian sausage – left, Prosciutto right)
The second pizza was Prosciutto, arugula and roasted garlic ($20). I was pleasantly surprised when the pizza arrived. The prosciutto and arugula were baked into the pizza (versus every other prosciutto and arugula pizza I’ve seen, where the arugula and prosciutto have been added cold after baking the pizza shell.) It really made a world of difference to have all the ingredients baked in. It made it easier to eat for one, and I thought it mellowed out the sharpness that raw arugula has. It was very, very good.
The Rigatoni Boscaiola ($16) was made with mushrooms, shaved garlic, prosciutto and cream sauce. Even though it was a cream sauce, it wasn’t too heavy at all. The texture of the mushrooms and the saltiness of the prosciutto complemented the cream sauce very well. Like everything else we had tried, it was fantastic.
The pasta special was smoked Chorizo alla Marinara Spaghetti ($17.) The noodles were cooked perfectly al dente, and held the sauce very well. The chorizo added just the right amount of spiciness and smokiness. It was covered with so much parmesan that the pasta can barely be seen in the picture.
Sadly, we were far too stuffed to have dessert. I definitely plan to come back and will be sure to save room for some sweets next time. I cannot say enough good things about this restaurant. Everything was wonderfully flavourful and delicious. If you are looking for a new Italian restaurant to try out, I highly recommend this little gem.
Nook |781 Denman Street, Vancouver BC | Tel: 604.568.4554