By Frank Cucca and Lidia Ranallo
Born in Ateleta, L’Aquila, Italy, La Piazza Dario’s Owner/Chef, Claudio Ranallo, has been cooking since he was a small boy in Italy. Claudio grew up raising animals, herding sheep throughout the vast mountains of Ateleta. Growing up with such a close relationship to animals, Claudio appreciated from a very young age the meaning of quality and fine food. Learning to cook alongside his father, who was also a chef, food has always been a family affair. The lessons and traditions that were ingrained in Claudio from his father have stayed with him throughout his entire life, apparent with each bite of every dish served at La Piazza Dario. It is truly a restaurant rooted in Italian tradition and family. Claudio went on to become a culinary arts student at Cesare Augusto Hotel in Sorrento, Italy at the age of fifteen and, post culinary arts school, he became a member of the Italian army where he was chosen to cook for many of the well-known generals. When Claudio was finished serving in the army, he became a chef in Northern Italy in an area known as Lago Maggiore. Here, Claudio worked with some very well-known Italian chefs who helped cultivate his knowledge of authentic Italian food. It was not until 1979 that Claudio and his parents came to Canada, a move that was made to be with their extended family. It was then that Claudio began working at La Piazza Dario. It wasn’t long before he was made Head Chef. Five years later, Claudio became a partner in the business and this April will mark the 38th. year since Claudio began creating the authentic Italian food that La Piazza Dario is so well known for. If Claudio Ranallo’s skill in carving a leg of veal hadn’t been witnessed by his peers in 1979, La Piazza Dario Ristorante Italiano the restaurant he presides over today as chef may not have become a Vancouver culinary mainstay renowned for its authentic Italian cuisine. His carving capabilities resulted in his escalation to cook, then head chef, then a partner in 1984 and, ultimately, owner with his wife, Lidia since 2004. Throughout the years, Ranallo has refused to accommodate fads or compromise the authenticity of his dishes, which include antipasti, soups, pastas and classic Italian desserts. True Italian food is simple and made from scratch, says Lidia. Ironically, although the local restaurant scene has evolved dramatically since La Piazza Dario first opened for business in 1977, it’s becoming harder to find genuine traditional cuisine. But if Ranallo is a purist, he also encourages fresh ideas from new talent. For example, several years ago he hired a young chef from Italy, who developed innovative desserts for the lunch and dinner menus. We’re able to create exciting dishes yet stay true to our roots by employing people who have been classically trained and use authentic ingredients and preparation techniques, says Lidia. Just 15 minutes from the city center, a visit to Vancouver is not complete without a meal at La Piazza Dario Ristorante Italiano. For lunch or dinner, business or pleasure, La Piazza Dario has been serving traditional Italian cuisine at the highest standards for over three decades. In fact, we’re one of the most popular Italian restaurants Vancouver offers! At La Piazza Dario, we believe exceptional cuisine is life-enhancing magic – it’s a magic that should be enjoyed around a table with family and friends. At our authentic Italian restaurant in Vancouver, you will encounter a warm and relaxed atmosphere where fine cuisine is presented in gracious style. Whether you’re visiting us for an enjoyable lunch or an intimate candlelit dinner, you’ll experience that particular Italian gift of making an art out of life. Our delicious cuisine was selected from the classic dishes of sunny Italy, including antipasti, soups, pastas and traditional Italian desserts. All our dishes are prepared from the finest ingredients and served in the continental tradition since our start in 1977.
By Lidia Ranallo