Livia opens on Commercial Drive with sourdough, baked goods, and Italian-bistro flavours

The bakery café aims to be a neighbourhood spot

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      The Drive is home to another new bakery cafe: Livia Sweets has opened up at 1399 Commercial.

      The charming 40-seat spot, with white and deep “stargazer” blues, takes its name from baker/co-owner Claire Livia Lassam, who runs it with her husband, Jordan Pires.

      “When I was travelling, I loved finding those places where you could go in in the morning and have a pastry and a coffee or a nice lunch, a glass of wine, and a light supper—just a little neighbourhood spot,” says Lassam, who’s lived in the Commercial Drive area for over a decade. “That’s what I wanted for my neighbourhood.”

      For the last four years, Lassam, who’s half Italian and who studied at Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver, has been selling her bread baked goods at local farmers markets. Prior to that, she made pastries and worked as a server at Merchant’s Worksop; she also has experience at chocolate shops, other bakeries, and Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca, among other places.

      Gail Johnson.

      She and Pires made the leap to bakery/café when the corner space, formerly home to All Basha, came up for lease last summer. With their bistro menu having an Italian slant, the two are currently serving breakfast and lunch, working their way up to dinner service.

      The team sources ingredients locally from places like J, N & Z Deli on the Drive and Agassiz’s Cedar Isle Farm. Being so closely connected to farmers’ markets, they also purchase seasonal items from small producers. Lassam makes jams and jellies, too.

      Gail Johnson.

      On the bakery side of things, Livia serves up a rotating selection of sourdough breads (Lassam's sourdough starter’s name is Gaia), focaccia, baguettes, challah, and other loaves. Then there are croissants, Danishes, and--her regulars’ favourite--brioche twists, in flavours like blueberry-lemon-curd-pistachio, Scandinavian cinnamon-sugar, and goat-cheese-and-leek.

      Brunch and lunch items, served till 3 p.m., include olive-oil granola with yogurt and jam; soft polenta with local mushrooms and egg; torta rustica; carbonara; meatballs and tomato sauce with egg; mortadella grilled cheese; spelt and winter greens salad; and more. The dishes range in price from $4 to $16.

      Gail Johnson.

      Besides espresso-based drinks, the bar menu features Italian wine, Prosecco, vinho verde, and simple cocktails like Aperol spritzes and mimosa.

      Livia is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

      Gail Johnson.
      Gail Johnson.