Minestrone: a steaming bowl of seasonally appropriate goodness, TP photo

We’re always intrigued when a leading hotel decides to work with a celebrated restaurant–as opposed to running its own in-house operation.

We watched with interest over the last couple of years the machinations surrounding the pop-ups at Opus Hotel, which were often entertaining but never intended to remain as full-time concepts. Hence, we were pretty excited when Opus announced it had inked a deal with Adam Pegg and Lucais Syme of Kitsilano’s La Quercia.

A striking, understated decor

The tiny, perfect West Side Italian landed top honours as Restaurant of the Year in 2011 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards (for which we judge).

A few weeks back, Cento Notti closed and recently the wraps came off La Pentola Della Quercia (350 Davie St., Vancouver, 604-642-0557).

We had lunch there yesterday—and even a few bites were enough to have us hankering for more. We can’t help but think, as the winter rains start to wash through Vancouver (which they will starting tomorrow), La Pentola’s piping hot, nutritiously packed minestrone will be just the ticket. Not to mention the utterly delicious, perfectly textured polenta gnocchi al funghi.

Polenta gnocchi makes for a lighter dish

Plates are detail driven; service attentive but unfawning; and there’s no shortage of elegant, understated little touches.

Renovations have yielded a striking, quite minimalist, off white decor. At lunch it’s a delightfully bright setting—although we wonder how the room with its large, unadorned windows will feel in January. Time will tell.

For now, the antipasti/primi/secondi lunch menu (nothing over $23) offers the kind of truly flavourful, locally sourcedinventive offerings we’d hoped for—and wines by the glass (including nicely balanced, citrus-y Terradoro Falanghina) are wide ranging and moderately priced ($8-$14).

We’ll be back …