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Credit: Steve Li

CinCin’s new executive chef Andrew Richardson says, “I believe in simplicity, and the interaction of prime ingredients on the plate. Less is often more, especially in Italian cookery.”

CinCin, Vancouver's celebrated Italian eatery, goes back to its roots with top-quality ingredients expertly prepared in a wood-fired oven

CinCin’s new executive chef Andrew Richardson began his culinary career in his hometown of Newcastle, England, and has held high-profile positions throughout British Columbia since 1999, including at Cioppino’s, West, Sooke Harbour House and Araxi before taking the helm at CinCin in May.

Having worked with the Top Table restaurant group twice – West and Araxi are siblings to Blue Water Cafe, Thierry and CinCin – Richardson is thrilled to be back and working with Top Table’s proprietor Jack Evrensel, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards.

“Jack is always driving all of us on to go better and better and better,” says Richardson over the phone in his charming English lilt. “It’s quite nice to be motivated in that way.” 

Evrensel is equally taken with Richardson, saying, “Andrew is a phenomenal talent. His international expertise, combined with his intimate knowledge of local suppliers and ingredients, will be a real credit to Vancouver’s culinary scene.”

CinCin’s Unique Use of its Wood-fired Oven

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CinCin's wood-fired oven, rostisserie and grill. (Image: Steve Li)

One of the elements that makes CinCin unique to Vancouver’s culinary scene is its wood-fired oven – a commodity that’s quite difficult for restaurants to obtain a permit for these days.

Most local restaurants with wood-fired ovens use them specifically for cooking pizza, whereas at CinCin, most of the items that grace your plate will have been touched by the wood-fired oven, grill or rotisserie’s flames, adding “another dimension to the flavour,” says Richardson.

An incredible flavour that I can attest to, having tried a number of menu items.

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Seasonal feature of pork belly, sea bass and Mediterranean vegetables. (Image: Aaron Barr)

The food’s flavour is also enhanced by slow, deliberate cooking techniques, as experienced with the melt-in-your-mouth pork belly, accompanied by sea bass and grilled vegetables (pictured above), which is prepared over three days.

"It's a long process but well worthwhile," says Richardson.

Simplicity Done Right Requires Expertise

“We quite often say all the food is simpler now than it was,” says Richardson of the new menu, “but it is in one way, and it’s not in another because when you simplify food you bring a lot of experience and knowledge to put combinations together, to buy the right product, to know how to cook it.”

"We’ve stripped away what I would call excess ingredients from the plates and focused more on the quality of the product," he says, noting that "the menu will change frequently but it will be seasonally and product-driven."

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Salmon primavera, $31, with Haida Gwaii coho salmon, slow cooked fennel, olives, grape tomatoes, basil and olive oil. (Image: Aaron Barr)

As an Ocean Wise partner, all of CinCin’s seafood is sustainable (like the phenomenal salmon primavera we tried, pictured above), and other proteins are purchased directly from suppliers who raise their animals naturally, like Maple Hill Farms, Broek Pork Acres and Spring Creek Ranch.

Much of CinCin’s produce is sourced from Glorious Organics Co-op, a local company that supplies seasonal fruits and vegetables, like the arugula we had on our divine seared beef carpaccio (pictured below).

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Carpaccio di manzo, $16, with thyme and black pepper crusted beef tenderloin, arugula, mayonnaise, mustard and 36-month-aged Parmesan cheese. (Image: Aaron Barr)

"It’s a very traditional Italian dish which originates from Harry’s Bar in Venice," says Richardson of the carpaccio, which is seasoned with thyme, black pepper and sea salt before being very quickly seared on the wood-fired grill, sliced thin, pounded even thinner and served with daily housemade mayo, mustard, olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

CinCin’s Modern Take on Italian Cuisine

In trying to define CinCin’s cuisine, Richardson says it’s a "modern take on Italian food."

"We try to approach the food, the menu and the restaurant with the mindset of an Italian person, meaning that we always to try find the freshest local ingredients, treat them very simply, eat very simply," he says.

"We use the analogy of an Italian person travelling to BC. If they came here and were cooking for themselves, they wouldn’t be trying to buy Italian products, they’d want to see what’s available locally, but they’d apply their way of cooking and their way of approaching food to that product. So that’s what we try to do."

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CinCin's second floor patio is enveloped by greenery. (Image: Steve Li)

No fine Italian meal would be complete without flawless service, thoughtful wine pairings, and bring-you-to-your-knees-good desserts, and CinCin delivered on all counts, especially from our spot on the lovely patio (pictured above).

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Tiramisu (left), $12, with housemade lady fingers soaked in espresso and kahlua, and mascarpone mousse; pistachio semifreddo, $12, with lemon curd, chilled pistachio custard and citrus vanilla sauce. (Image: Aaron Barr)

Assistant wine director and server Jamie Lauder and new wine director David Marchand are a wealth of international wine savvy – CinCin received the 2012 Gold Wine List Award at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival – and they suggested excellent pairings for our meal, ending with our dessert (tiramisu and semifreddo, pictured above), prepared by pastry chef Christophe Bonzon.

CinCin is located on the second floor at 1154 Robson Street.