I’m Italian, so it should go without saying that one of my favorite foods in the entire world is pasta. But for years I avoided ordering pasta at restaurants, because although there’s nothing better in the world than good pasta, there’s nothing worse than bad pasta. And, unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad pasta in the world. I now go by a basic rule of thumb when it comes to deciding whether or not I should order pasta at a restaurant: If the pasta is made fresh I order it, if not, I pass. Unfortunately, this generally leaves me with restaurants that are on the more expensive side. Eating pasta out has thus become only an occasional treat.
So when Mo invited me out for lunch, and suggested that we check out a tiny little Italian restaurant called Raviolino that makes fresh pasta, I jumped at the chance. I’d been wanting to check it out for awhile, but because it’s ambiance is closer to that of a cafe or deli, I hadn’t managed to find anybody that wanted to try it out with me. Fortunately Mo didn’t mind. Walking in, we were met with a tiny room with about 4-5 tables and a counter up front. The simple menu is written on a chalkboard, and you order and pay for your meal up front, and then wait for it to be brought out to you at your table.
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sundried Tomato Rose – $9.99 with side
Although Raviolino offers spaghetti, cannelloni, lasagna, and meatball sandwiches, I decided to stick with ordering their namesake pasta of which they have seven options (spinach ricotta, chicken mushroom, butternut squash, four cheese, beef, pistachio, and mushroom). I settled on the Butternut Squash Ravioli and paired it with the Sundried Tomato Rose (they also have tomato sauce, meat sauce, alfredo, pesto, and gorgonzola as sauce options).
For under ten dollars (which also includes a side) I was impressed by the portion size. As can be seen in the photo above, the ravioli are on the thinner side, so you’re actually looking at two layers worth of pasta. The ravioli were cooked fairly close to al dente (perhaps just a tad past the point that I would have liked), but still had some tooth to them. On its own I found the butternut squash filling unmemorable – it was neither sweet nor savoury, and was not heavily seasoned. But paired with the sundried tomato rose, it was the perfect canvas (which was likely their intention). The rose is a mixture of their tomato and alfredo sauces, and is absolutely bursting with flavour. It’s creamy and garlicky, but still retains the bright tartness of the tomatoes. I also appreciated that it had large chunks of tomato and garlic. This was not only one of the best ravioli dishes that I’ve ever had in Vancouver, but shockingly also the cheapest.
Side Caesar Salad – +$1 upgraded side if gotten with pasta
Included in the price of the pasta is your choice of either a garden salad, garlic bread, or olives. For $1 more you can also upgrade to a Caesar Salad which I decided to do. Presented in a small bowl, the salad was pretty average. The fresh romaine lettuce was dressed in a store bought dressing with store bought croutons. It would have been nice if it had grated parmesan, but for the price I suppose I shouldn’t expect anything fancy. It’s nice that it’s included in the already cheap price of the pasta though.
So will I be returning to Raviolino’s? Um, absolutely! The ravioli dish that I tried was super delicious, and cost less than ten dollars. A similar dish at any other restaurant would be at least double the price, and half the portion size. I’m super curious to return and try some of their other pastas and sauces now. And after reading more review on Yelp, I’d also like to try their sandwiches. Apparently an eggplant parmesan sandwich can be ordered off menu that is supposed to be the best that you can find anywhere in Vancouver. I still can’t believe that this place exists.