SAVIO VOLPE’S fantastical front door—about 12 feet tall with a brass knocker placed high out of reach—says a lot about Vancouver’s favourite neighbourhood Italian restaurant. Had this classic osteria launched downtown, it still would have ranked as a giant among equals. Located, as it is, in the East Side’s buzzy Fraserhood, the clever fox (as its name means in translation) has swiftly leaped beyond its initial billing as a casual joint to become one of the hottest destinations in town, with a forever-full reservation list and regular celebrity sightings. Salumi maestro Peter Ciuffa lends a central antipasto bar the feel of a lively kitchen party, while Craig Stanghetta’s contemporary design—pleated-oak wall panelling and a complex, Italian Modernist-inspired lighting system— keeps the room cleanly sophisticated. Firmly rooted in the Italian tradition of simplicity and freshness, Mark Perrier’s menu revolves around handmade pastas and meats kissed by smoke from a grapevine-burning wood grill.Grass-fed veal chops, dry-aged top sirloin and rotisserie chickens are served family style, alongside nostalgic garlic bread wrapped in tinfoil, silky bagna cauda and the terrific crispy pig’s head salad. The bar offers simple spritzes, house-made Italian sodas and interesting regional wine varietals from the mother country. The casual neighbourhood concept has proved so popular, general manager and co-owner Paul Grunberg recently gave up his founding stake and management role at L’Abattoir to free up time to open a second Savio Volpe in East Vancouver.