Red Sauce-Diaries

Nick’s Spaghetti House was one of the city’s last iconic restau­rants. Can the team from Savio Volpe hon­our its past while cre­at­ing their own fu­ture?

Vancouver Magazine - - News - Neal McLen­nan BY An­drew Querner PHO­TOGRAPHS BY

We go be­hind the scenes to see just how a new Ital­ian joint comes to­gether.

The Team

It’s 5:30 on a snowy Wed­nes­day night in late Fe­bru­ary, and Paul Grun­berg is look­ing out at the grow­ing flakes and wor­ry­ing. “This isn’t good for tonight,” he mut­ters as he pulls out his phone and checks how many cov­ers —170—are sched­uled at his restau­rant, Savio Volpe, where he’s sit­ting with his busi­ness part­ners, chef Mark Per­rier and de­signer Craig Stanghetta.

“Not good,” he says, look­ing out at the snow. “We should be at 220.” Grun­berg’s just a few weeks re­moved from sell­ing out of L’Abat­toir, the pop­u­lar Gastown spot he founded, and his newly grown-out beard, cou­pled with his di­alled-in fo­cus, re­call a Ser­pico- era Al Pa­cino: equal parts en­ergy and cool re­serve.

If his part­ners have any of Grun­berg’s con­cern about the snow, they’re not show­ing it. Per­rier has the per­spec­tive of some­one who’s al­ready walked away from this in­dus­try once: sev­eral years ago, he was an up-and­com­ing chef with stints at Le Gavroche in Lon­don and West un­der David Hawksworth when the com­bi­na­tion of kitchen pol­i­tics and the grind of the in­dus­try got to him—so, with an eye to his young fam­ily, he packed it in. He spent the three years prior to Savio hap­pily toil­ing as a butcher at Two Rivers Meats.

And Stanghetta, ade­signer who, with his com­pany Ste. Marie De­sign, spent the pre­vi­ous decade be­fore Savio turn­ing other restau­ra­teurs’ dreams into re­al­ity, still main­tains an air of I-can’t-be­lieve-I-get-to-do-thisas-my-job ex­cite­ment when he sits in the cor­ner booth of a place that he ac­tu­ally owns.

Noth­ing helps pro­mote ca­ma­raderie in the restau­rant busi­ness like suc­cess, and Savio’s en­vi­able bal­ance sheet only re­in­forced the feel­ing these three had that they were on to some­thing spe­cial when they first saw a de­crepit tire store at Fraser and Kingsway. 1 In­stead of see­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, they imag­ined an Ital­ian spot built around a wood-fired oven: the sort of place they’d en­vi­sioned when they’d get to­gether ev­ery Satur­day to talk about what would make the per­fect restau­rant.

But the team is not here to talk about Savio.

Paul Grun­berg

Mark Per­rier

Craig Stanghetta

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