We couldn’t be more thrilled and honored to receive the distinction of Editor’s Choice at last year’s 2016 Where to Dine Awards. Vancouver is very much a foodie town and after forty years, we feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the culinary scene. A 40-year stalwart, Dario’s is a timeless classic, subtly updated so as not to disturb it’s comforting white-linen fine-dining feel. A dash of Italian retro, wrapped in Florentine decor, underscores a wide-ranging menu of mainstays: antipasti, minestrone, cannelloni, linguine di mare, and scaloppine al marsala, with irresistible tiramisu or seductively smooth zabaglione to finish.-Tim Pawsey, Where.ca When we say that La Piazza Dario has some history, we mean it. The restaurant has been in business for 40 years, having opened its doors in 1977 alongside the Italian Cultural Centre in East Vancouver. Two years after La Piazza Dario opened, a young Claudio Ranallo joined the culinary team, instantly adding his warm, distinctive touch to each plate of food that he lovingly prepared. Not long after he began his tenure with La Piazza Dario, it wasn’t long before he was made Head Chef. Five years later, Claudio became a partner in the business and last April marked the 38th year since Claudio began creating the authentic Italian food that La Piazza Dario is so well known for. Since then, La Piazza Dario has become somewhat of an institution, consistently offering delicious, authentic Italian cuisine for the city of Vancouver. It is now a family-owned and operated restaurant; one that continues to pride itself on serving exceptional Italian meals and warmly welcoming lunch and dinner parties of all size to its tables. At La Piazza Dario, you will find that each of the dishes are inspired by classic Italian food and ingredients. This is the way it has always been done. The menus continue to be comprised of traditional Italian selections such as antipasti, pastas, Italian desserts and more. If you love Italian food and have yet to visit for a meal, you will not be disappointed!
MARCO POLO Why Vancouver, what brought you to Vancouver?
LIDIA RANALLO Claudio came to Vancouver because his two brothers had already immigrated to Vancouver (he had aunts and uncles). He came in 1979 with his parents.
MARCO POLO When did you meet Lidia your wife and how many kids in your family?
CLAUDIO RANALLO Lidia and I met because my older brother Pasqualino married Lidia’s sister Annita. We have known each other for 43 years. We have two children Jessica who is married and her husband is John Baek and Marcello.
MARCO POLO Let’s talk about how you got started, what made you want to be a Chef?
LIDIA RANALLO Claudio was always interested in cooking as his father Guerino worked as a cook in Italy and also in Germany. He went to work with him in Germany many times and he developed the love for cooking.
MARCO POLO Did you always want to own and operate your own Italian restaurant?
CLAUDIO RANALLO Having my own restaurant was always a dream of mine. I never thought it would happen as it was very difficult when I came to Canada at 21 and had to start from zero.
MARCO POLO What are your master specialties (favorite dishes)? Top three!
CLAUDIO RANALLO The three dishes that people enjoy is our home made gnocchi, I make various types of risotto (mushroom, red beet and barolo wine), veal dishes with different sauces (limone, pizzaiola and marsala)
MARCO POLO When cooking Italian dishes, what are your main preferences and why? Are your dishes mainly Northern Italian Cuisine?
CLAUDIO RANALLO My dishes vary from all over Italy. I guess you can say that in the summer I tend to cook lighter dishes as grilled fishes, and meats. I think most of my dishes that I cook in the winter are more from the north as they have the earthy ingredients like: porcini mushrooms, game meats and of course osso buco alla milanese.
MARCO POLO Given your expertise and experiences, would you change or do anything different?
CLAUDIO RANALLO I know that the restaurant scene has changed and will always be changing. I prefer to keep things as authentic as possible. This is the way I learned and was taught and I think it is important to keep some type of tradition in my cooking.
MARCO POLO Having a family business can at times be challenging, do you all get along and whom is the boss?
CLAUDIO AND LIDIA RANALLO My wife and I have been working together for around 27 years. It can be challenging but we have made it work. We understand what needs to be done for the customers and our staff. Claudio has been at the restaurant for 38 years and has more knowledge that Lidia (in a restaurant and cooking sense) so I would consider him the boss. We make decisions together and discuss them.
MARCO POLO You are a Master Chef and must enjoy all types of food, outside of your restaurant what is your personal favorite meal? Who cooks at home?
CLAUDIO RANALLO I cook everyday at work so I try not to cook at home. Lidia does the cooking at home. I enjoy all types of food outside of the home, something different than what we eat all the time, like Chinese food.
MARCO POLO What does the future hold, are the kids following in your footsteps?
CLAUDIO AND LIDIA RANALLO Well we are still working because we enjoy what we do. Our customers are very important and have created a family feel with many of them. It is still where we want to go everyday. Of course, we will slow down a bit. Our son Marcello is currently working with us and he enjoys the job. He is learning all he has to learn in regards to all the behind the scenes jobs that have to be done to produce the end result of a fine dining experience. Jessica my daughter worked many years in the restaurant. She is a graphic designer and she takes care of our promotional items (menus, website etc.)
By Frank Cucca