Whenever people would ask me: “Joe, when did you first start writing creatively?”, I’d always hearken back to the dreadful little horror and science fiction stories I used to pen in fourth grade. But, upon further reflection, I realize now that my artistic spirit was awakened even earlier. Truth is I started spinning inventive little yarns around the same time I was old enough to have to field my mother’s questions about schoolwork, friends, and who exactly scratched those stick figures into the upstairs wall. And it’s been something, I’m ashamed to admit, I’ve only gotten better at with time. My mother being Italian, there are just certain things you cannot tell her. For instance, when talking with my mom: do not reveal how late you were up partying last night, avoid saying how much you really paid for those clothes, and never, ever, tell her you went out for Italian because, in our household growing up, going out for Italian food was viewed as an act of supreme disloyalty akin to rooting for Brazil in the World Cup. Whenever my mother would make her home made pasta, she would wonder aloud how much a comparable dish would cost you in an Italian restaurant. But, really, this was a trick because, in her opinion, an Italian Restaurant could never prepare something as comparable. The portions offered in restaurant were tiny, overcooked, and devoid of any true Italian flair. “They just boil the pasta, throw some tomato sauce on top and serve it,”she would inform us, like a town elder fabricating some terrifying tale designed to steer the neighborhood kids clear of “the old McGillicutty place”. And it worked. Despite being an avowed foodie, I avoided Italian restaurants on principal. Why go out and pay for a lasagna that could in no way compare to mom’s? It didn’t make any sense. Until I moved to Vancouver. Then, my attitude changed. And Quattro on 4th was the restaurant that turned it around.
In that first year following my move to Vancouver, Quattro opened the door to a host of wonderful Italian eateries – Don Francesco, Villa del Lupo, Il Giardino. But, given its more remote location, it eventually fell off my radar. Until yesterday when a bunch of out-of-town friends were looking for some good Italian food. My mind immediately went to Quattro. Yet it had been years since my last visit. Would this meal prove as remarkable as the ones that had first won me over?
The seven of us arrived at approximately 8:00 p.m. to a fairly full house. Fortunately, I’d had the foresight to make reservation and we were steered over to a nice cozy corner table. Like a number of the city’s finer Italian restaurants, Quattro offers a warm and elegant atmosphere, dark woods, chocolate walls, and low ambient lighting. A great place to go for a relaxing dinner.
We started off with their legendary antipasto platter (in this case, for seven) which included: prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe, grilled prawn, lamb sausage, artichoke hearts, olives, fresh basil, roasted red peppers, and a stand-out prosciutto and radicchio-wrapped grilled mozarella cheese in a cherry vinaigrette, all crowned with salt-crusted breadsticks. We also shared a couple of plates of the carpaccio sottobosco – the thinly sliced, melt-in-your mouth beef tenderloin topped with arugula, parmigiano reggiano, and white truffle oil. In my humble opinion, the best carpaccio in town.
For my main, I decided to go with one of the evening’s additions to the menu: a nicely marbled rib steak, grilled medium-rare, served in a red wine reduction with sweet cipollini onions, veggies, and a potato galette. It was a generous serving and, although I assumed I’d be bringing a third of it home in a doggy bag, in the end, my pugs ended up going hungry. Rave reviews from my friends who had the pistachio-crusted Alaskan black cod with the fire-roasted sweet pepper sauce, and the perfectly-grilled deboned Cornish game hen served with garlic, peperoncino, and riviera herbs (my former go-to dish). We also enjoyed a plate of the spicy Spaghetti Quattro and an off-menu pasta dish (Ask for it. They’ll be more than happy to prepare it for you) of fettuccini served in a heavenly porcini and Portobello mushroom sauce topped with fresh basil and parmigiano reggiano.
Plenty to choose from when the time came for dessert, so we decided to go with almost everything. Top marks go to the marscapone-rich house tiramisu and ultra-chocolaty dark chocolate tart topped with whipped milk chocolate. The apple-pear almond cake was good but underwhelming in comparison. Finally, the whipped marscapone cheese, cream, and sour cherries in phyllo pastry was excellent but proved incredibly difficult to slice up and share.
Great service from our friendly waiter, Daniel, and it was nice to see affable owner Patrick Corsi greeting guests, visiting the respective tables to chat and offer recommendations, and generally working the room.
Just like old times, Quattro continues to impress.
Please, don’t tell my mom.
Mel writes: “So, if you did the read-through for This Mortal Coil today, when will start filming it? Also, how many season 4 episodes have you guys filmed so far? And… do you go in order??”
Answers: This Mortal Coil starts shooting on Wednesday. We’re in the process of filming The Seer and will shift back to finish up Reunion on Monday and Tuesday. We’ve filmed approximately 8 episodes and, no, the shooting order differs from the airing order.
Anonymous #1 writes: “I also have more respect for people who make the hard choices and admit when they don’t go the way they expect…”
Answer: Er, again, you mean they don’t go the way you expect…
Thomas Sharpe writes: “ Since it looks like Atlantis might not go to a season five, and almost certainly won’t go to six, how do you think the show should end.”
Answer: What’ve you heard?! Do you know someone at SciFi? We’re still working under the assumption that we’ll get that fifth season pick-up.
Anonymous #2 writes: “What did you think about the 6th Harry Potter book? Did you enjoy it?”
Answer: I really liked The Goblet of Fire a lot. It was my favorite in the series.
Jen, the cow hugger writes: “This may seem like a mundane question, but: do you own any Stargate stuff?”
Answer: Does my life-size Martin Gero cardboard replica count? No? Then no.
Dori writes: “Question 1: Does Col. Mitchell survive the movies being filmed now? (He looked really banged up.. but still cool)
Question 2: Did you read Lord of the Rings? Probably a silly question, who hasn’t.. but how does it rate with you?”
Answer 1: No can say.
Answer 2: I did way back in high school and I did enjoy them.
Scifan writes: “Can you give us a hint about “Be All My Sins Remember’d”? Is it just about one member of the team or all of them?”
Answer: All of them. And then some.
Becky S. writes: “So, Joe, after reading the comments I can see so far on your latest blog entry I find myself wondering…when are you planing to have another big dinner?”
Answer: We’ll be heading back to Gastropod next.
Tom Foolery writes: “ 1. Have you ever tried Duck? If so, what does it taste like, would you recommend it and what is the best meal you have had where it is the main ingredient?
2. What is the average cost of a meal (2 course) in the restaurants you talk about in your blog?”
Answers: 1. My favorite duck dish is Peking Duck which is really the crispy duck skin topped with hoisin sauce and green onions wrapped in a pancake. A little on the rich side, yes, but very tasty. 2. It really depends on where we go. Last night, Fondy and I went to Budapest and paid $35 for our meals. When I was out with Bob Picardo and C Restaurant, one of the city’s more upscale dining destinations, the meal was mor in the $200 range.
Gilder writes: “Want to place a chocolate bet on the Spurs/Suns series?”
Answer: Sure. I’ll take the Suns.
Jessica writes: “Will the father of Teyla’s baby be revealed in Season Four?”
Anonymous #1 also writes: “I notice you have posted every one of the entires I have sent both before and after the one I sent this morning that replies directly to what you posted on yesterday’s blog in reply to my first post – what’s up with that??”
Answer: Uh, you mean the one in which you get all worked up and resort to swearing and name-calling? Yeah, surprisingly, that post didn’t make the cut.
Cheeky Lil Devil writes: a whole lot.
Answer: You should put together your own rap video and give both Zach and David a run for their money.