January 17 2018
Coming Home to Eat with Di Beppe in Gastown
Written by Gastown Admin
Take a moment and think about the best meal you’ve ever had.
Perhaps it was the food.
A unique work of art on a plate. Flavours that took you beyond into a dimension much further than you’d ever experienced. An absolute perfect balance of ingredients, like stars in a far away galaxy, aligned into a most heavenly form.
Was it the wine?
Sweet grapes illuminated by the sun where each piece from the vine was held like a planet in the weathered hands of the one who plucked them, each bottle its own solar system.
Ah yes. It was the people.
Soft, friendly eyes looking back at you from across the table; the altar at the chiesa della cena.
Those beside you in complete sync, sharing roaring laughter, our bellies warm, ignited by precious food.
There is something magnificent in sitting down at a table together to eat.
Whatever it is, this magic can only be when all things are present – when the food is made with love, with the best ingredients that can be found and when those who take their seat, are willing to let go and trust that this sacrament is one of life’s great joys. A gift to be shared, savored and most importantly, to be enjoyed slowly over time.
New to Gastown, Di Beppe Italian Restaurant is the latest creation from Kitchen Table Restaurants. We met with Letitia Wan; Executive Chef and Matthew Morgenstern; General Manager to discover how they have brought an authentic piece of old Italy to our little neighbourhood.
Letitia Wan; Executive Chef and Matthew Morgenstern; General Manager
How did you begin working in restaurants?
Letitia: During college my mom suggested (mostly as a joke) that I go to cooking school during the summer. Well, it stuck and she’s now still trying convincing me to get a real job! I met Matthew at Ask For Luigi and worked there as chef de cuisine for four years. When I heard about the concept for Di Beppe and saw the space, I was quite excited to become part of the crew and to continue to create wonderful Italian food as Executive Chef.
Matthew: I started taking wine classes out of personal interest. The classes led to signing on to work part time as a server. I moved up the ladder fairly quickly and became the wine director and assistant general manager at Nicli Pizzeria here in Gastown. I then worked at Wildebeast for two years and eventually moved onto Ask for Luigi where I was involved in helping set up and open the restaurant. Di Beppe provided the opportunity to serve as general manager. I was very happy to take on the role.
How did the name Di Beppe come about?
The name Joe is pretty common. Joseph in Italian is Giuseppe. The diminutive form for Joe is where the Gius is dropped, a B is added and it becomes Beppe – Di Beppe then means Joe’s.
What makes Di Beppe different from other Italian restaurants?
Matthew: It’s funny how almost every single person that sits down here and starts talking about the space, mentions the vibe. You can feel something special here and there’s a real sense of comfort and welcome. We wanted Di Beppe to be all about people – about really taking care of our guests and making them feel at home and about fostering a team of engaging, passionate staff who love the food and the ritual of sharing and supporting that experience for others.
There are plenty of great restaurants in the city, but to have an intimate room with great food, excellent service and a deep sense of feeling part of the whole – as if sitting with family and friends in a warm, familiar place where abundance and connection co-exists – those places are hard to find. I feel that one need not look any further than Di Beppe.
There’s a split concept here where half the room is a café and the other half, the restaurant with a bar. How does it work?
In Italy, both café and bar are interchangeable. Everything in the country is centered around food. You wouldn’t find a bar where you would just go to drink as there would be food served there as well as everywhere else. People dine late in Italy and always have a coffee after dinner.
We’ve been deeply influenced by this and Di Beppe is a very European dining experience. One of the founding members of Kitchen Table is originally from Italy so the concept was inspired by some of his memories of growing up in Vancouver as an Italian immigrant. The café will soon be open all day and into the evening and the restaurant will continue to open at 5pm each night for dinner. We don’t do reservations. Di Beppe is casual and we want the neighbourhood and families to come sit at our table.
What’s your favourite dish/thing to eat at Di Beppe?
Letitia: I like the Anchovy Pasta – a lot!
Matthew: I think our pizza is outstanding. It’s some of the best pizza I’ve ever had.
I’ve had your Affogato and it’s incredible. What’s the secret?
Letitia: A few things – the coffee for one. We use a traditional Italian roast, which is a little more bitter and darker in flavor with almost no acid. To achieve a balance, you then add something sweet. Our ice cream is a soft serve gelato, which melts quickly and blends perfectly with the espresso. The consistency then becomes just right.
What do you like about working in Gastown?
Matthew: I kind of coined the phrase Gastown Famous. And what I mean by that is that if I walked around West 4th in Kitsilano, no one is going to know who I am but when I walk the streets of Gastown there is always someone to say hello to.
Letitia: It’s close to home and I love riding my bike around the neighbourhood. I’ve worked in a few other parts of the city and I haven’t felt like I belong there nor do I want to be there when I’m not working. I like spending time in Gastown and hang out here a lot. I am part of this neighbourhood and the vibrant community that exists.
2 W Cordova Street
Open Wed-Sun 11am-9pm
8 W Cordova Street
Open Wed- Sun