When walking into the Giovane at the new Fairmont Pacific Rim, you are confronted with the following Enzo Mari ‘ad’ from an old issue of Domus, the kind that espouses the same “design will save the world” bullshit that hipsters like to do rails off of:

That might set an unwelcoming tone for Giovane, but the place is thankfully low on pretension and high on carbs. It’s primarily a soup and sandwich place, with pizzas, pastas and pastries to boot, but with a level of refinement you’d expect in a high-end hotel.

This is good news for the downtown lunch crowd, particularly those bored with Sciue, which is only a hop/skip/jump away. The pizzas aren’t quite as novel, but the capricciosa pizza ($9) we ordered – served with artichoke, prosciutto and slices of hard-boiled egg – was no slouch either, just as tasty and large enough for two having a light meal. The paninis, however, are more accomplished, each served on house-baked bread. The porchetta panini is served with braised pork, shaved fennel, and fontina cheese; the positana panini features grilled eggplant, chabichou cheese and pickled shallots. We had this as part of a combo ($12) with the mushroom soup, rich with portobello and cream, and probably one of the better versions in town.

Giovane makes its own pastries as well, which were the highlight of both our visits. There is a fair assortment of cakes and tarts, each of varying price and cream content. We had the hedgehog ($8), a diabetic’s best chocolate and peanut-butter nightmare. As great as it was, the true star is the simple sugar bun ($4), light and fluffy, filled with vanilla cream and coated with confection sugar.

Given the high price point, many may turn away, and I don’t know if Giovane offers up the utopia and assertion of standards that the Enzo Mari poster speaks of (to be fair, I'm not sure that anywhere does). Those willing to pay extra for a bit of polish, however, will find it well worth it.


Giovane (at the Fairmont Pacific Rim)
1038 Canada Place
Vancouver, BC
604 695 5501

Giovane on Urbanspoon