s one of the 20 or so guests in Oca Pastificio’s intimate space, you’ll have a front-row seat to watch chef Greg Dilabio skillfully—and seemingly seamlessly—stretching, slicing, and winding dough into over a hundred plates of pasta throughout the night. Since opening the East Vancouver restaurant in December 2019, Dilabio has led his small kitchen crew to much acclaim, with a menu focused primarily on (what else?) fresh, inventive, made-to-order pasta.
Just before the evening’s lineup (arrive early!) of hungry guests are welcomed inside, wide sheets of pasta drape over wooden racks above the entrance to the open kitchen. The only thing separating front from back of house is Dilabio at his pasta station, pulling still more dough from the roller at his side, while folded sheets sit at the ready like fabric rolls. Framing him is the chalkboard menu listing tried and true classics available a la carte—think spaghetti alla puttanesca, tagliatelle alla Bolognese—as well as Oca Pastificio’s signature tasting menu. As Dilabio’s business partner and front-of-house leader Antoine Dumont explains, this is where Dilabio can get creative.
A chance for both the diner and chef to try something new, the rotating tasting menu gives Dilabio the flexibility to incorporate ingredients that arrive that day: local and seasonal items like mussels or spring pea tips, for example. And while the dishes might change, the menu is always thoughtfully structured as a progression of preparations: perhaps working its way from vegetable-forward to seafood, then tomato-based to rich ragu. Each sauce is also paired with its perfect vessel—maybe an egg dough, maybe gnocchi, maybe an extruded noodle, maybe a stuffed one. With this care and craftsmanship, dinner becomes a journey of textures and tastes.
Once service starts, Dilabio continues stretching, slicing, winding, and now, plating. For the Instagram-favourite rotolo—something like an elongated ravioli—he squeezes streams of squash filling onto the dough sheets, sealing them swiftly with his thumb before slicing them into strips and trimming the sides with a fluted crimper. The final touch: twirling the pasta into a little crown, ready to be drizzled with browned butter and finally served to the eager diners who have been raptly watching the process unfold. Every step is fluid, fresh, and fun, feeding the intimate yet lively room for a fulfilling—and filling—night.