If you’ve ever been a regular at your neighbourhood pub or coffee shop, you’ll know the feeling of comfort and community well. These are the places where you know the menu by heart, where you have your very own “the usual,” and where mundane moments turn into magic memories. For many residents of Ladner, Il Posto, a light-filled Italian-American restaurant, has become exactly this kind of neighbourhood staple.
Helmed by chef Terry Pichor, the Ladner Village restaurant is a love story disguised as a casual eatery lined with dark red tones and rustic wood. Pichor, known for his expansive career in fine dining at some of the most exclusive B.C. resort restaurants, opened the joint with his wife Julie Marcopoulos in 2018. It was a decision, he says, that came with starting a family and wanting to shift to a simpler format. “It was something I had been thinking about for years. I originally wanted to do a really small simple pizzeria with a wood-burning oven,” the chef recalls. “That was food I really enjoyed eating.”
Pichor dove headfirst in the fine dining industry fresh out of culinary school: his first position was apprenticing at Four Seasons Vancouver. After a string of jobs across several Vancouver hot spots, he landed a role as executive chef at Sonora Resort: a luxury island hotel along the coast of B.C. that can only be reached via air or sea. There, he would spend eight years earning his acclaim as a top chef. Pichor had his pick of local, seasonal ingredients—both farmed and foraged—to create items like a spot prawn, English pea, and soft herb risotto, or Dungeness crab ravioli with a summer ragout.
It was at Sonora where Pichor’s love story began: there he met his wife Marcopoulos, who was managing the rooms at the time. The two eventually moved on to Villa Eyrie Resort in Malahat, between Victoria and the Cowichan Valley, where Pichor was brought on as executive chef. As with Sonora, he had no shortage of high-quality produce and seafood to work with. He helped the resort establish a new restaurant, Summit, influenced by his own palate. “I wanted to do a higher-end Italian concept,” he recalls, “with coastal Italian food.”
Pichor’s work did not go unnoticed: in 2017, Summit was among enRoute magazine’s top 30 best new restaurants in Canada. Prior to that, he earned recognition by winning two regional titles in the annual Golden Plates competitions. But for all the recognition the chef had received, his priorities changed when his wife became pregnant with their first son. “Everything was going well, but family became more important. We wanted to be closer to this community,” he says of Ladner, where Marcopoulos grew up and where her own father was an established restaurateur 30 years ago.
The couple opened Il Posto with a specific vision in mind: this was going to be a casual neighbourhood spot with good food and good vibes. Not a special occasion splurge, but a place to go back to again and again. Shifting from fine dining executive chef to restaurant owner has been “humbling,” says Pichor. “You really can’t compare working as a chef in someone else’s restaurant versus owning your own place. Everything falls on us, and the learning curve is steep when it comes to the business side of things. But I am proud of how much we have learned in our first few years. We have a team of about 40 now, and that also makes me proud. It’s really cool to be able to employ so many local people.”
Still, some things haven’t changed much. “This menu allows me to use similar products to what I was using in fine dining foods,” Pichor says. “I'm still using some of the same suppliers like Two Rivers Meats. I also use some of the local produce here, like Schoolhouse Farm. A lot of my ingredients are imported from Italy, as well.”
With Pichor in the kitchen, Marcopoulos running operations, and the couple’s two sons making occasional appearances on the restaurant’s Instagram page, Il Posto is a beautiful (and tasty) family affair.