Vancouver loves a great street festival, and one of the most highly anticipated outdoor celebrations of the year returns to the city this week. Italian Day on the Drive (June 10) runs from noon to 8 p.m. and will bring a host of attractions along the 14-block stretch. Expect family-friendly activities, music and entertainment, and plenty of gourmet eats at this full-day fête.
Aside from the Italian foods that we’re used to seeing and eating (such as meatballs, pasta, and tiramisu), a large selection of lesser-known dishes will be available. You’ll be able to try everything from pizzette montanare (miniature fried pizza) to granita al caffè (iced espresso slushie)—it will feel like you’ve been transported to the streets of Italy for the afternoon.
Here are eight food and drink items to try at this year’s Italian Day on the Drive.
1. Arancini from Mr. Arancino
Based on a traditional Sicilian recipe, Mr. Arancino’s gluten-free arancini (deep-fried risotto balls filled with various ingredients) satisfy all types of taste buds. They’re available in meat, vegetarian, and vegan options; you’ll find flavours like beef-ragu, cheese, and vegetable-ragu. We’re sure cheese lovers will appreciate the warm, melted mozzarella with every bite.
2. Sicilian cannoli from Cannoli King
You can’t go to Italian Day without eating one of the most iconic Italian treats: cannoli. Check out the authentic handcrafted Sicilian cannoli at Cannoli King—made with a sweet ricotta filling, chocolate chips, and almonds. For nut lovers, pistachio cannoli will also be on the menu.
3. Granita al caffè from Federico’s To Go
Granitas are a semifrozen Italian treat made with sugar, water, and various flavourings that can range from lemon juice to berry syrup. However, granita al caffè (iced espresso slushie) is one of the most popular options, as Italians have a renowned love for caffeine. Grab one to quench your thirst while you stroll through the annual festival.
4. Pizzette Montanare from Gusto’s
Fried pizza is a niche category in the food sphere—if you’ve never tried it, here’s your chance. Gusto’s will be serving up pizzette montanare (miniature fried pizza), made with a tasty dough covered with tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, and basil. They are small, leaving you with room to try other food creations at Italian Day.
5. Neapolitan Saltimbocca from Via Tevere Pizzeria
Besides its specialty wood-fired-oven pizzas, Via Tevere also makes great Neapolitan saltimbocca. Made with charred yet soft bread baked in a 900-degree wood oven, these sandwiches are filled with mouthwatering ingredients like meats, cheeses, fresh tomato, and crisp arugula (veggie option also available).
6. Lemoncocco from Lemoncocco
Inspired by cold refreshments found in kiosks on the streets of Italy, Lemoncocco is a canned beverage made with Sicilian lemon flavours and coconut cream. This drink pays homage to grattachecca, which is a dessert made of shaved ice sweetened with Italian syrups. We don’t know about you, but a lemon-coconut libation on a hot summer day sounds perfect.
7. Chiacchiere from the Famiglia Bagnolese Society
Known to have various names in different parts of Italy, chiacchiere (Italian fried pastries) are thin strips of fried dough that are sprinkled with sugar. Directly translated as “little gossips”, this treat supposedly got its name from the noisy crunching sounds made from eating the fried dough . You’ll want to order more than one after taking your first bite.
8. Gelato from Dolce Amore
No sane person skips gelato at an Italian-themed celebration, because this universally loved frozen treat is delicious. The folks at Dolce Amore will be scooping up their small-batch gelato at the festival, offering flavours like strawberry, toasted almond, Nutella, and various sorbettos.More