Nicli’s Next Door takes its house-made pasta very seriously. After witnessing the tender, love and care they put into their carefully crafted Italian staples and small plates, I’m already salivating for round two…
Vancouverites already know and love Nicli Antica Pizzeria, the Italian restaurant that ushered in a much-needed pizza revolution in our city. The opening of Nicli’s Next Door, situated literally next door to its big sister, was welcome news.
Best categorized under “Italian tapas”, Next Door is a prime spot for a pre-drink, a snack, or perhaps even a progressive dinner stop. Try the decadent, triple-cooked potato wrapped in parma prosciutto with a parmesan dipping sauce, their mouth-watering meatballs, or any of their pasta features. Next Door’s reginette pasta (which was so beautiful and fine, it reminded me of octopus tentacles) is made with a commercial pasta extruder — a rare sighting at a Vancouver restaurant, says Chef Keev Mah. The other types of pasta they offer, like ravioli, can only be made by hand.
Prior to this pasta education night at Next Door, I’d never considered making pasta at home. I often put a lot of effort into my cooking, but still…rolling out pasta dough is where I’ve drawn the line.
Chef Josh Gale begs to differ. He used to make homemade pasta multiple nights a week and considers it a fun activity with friends. Add a bottle of red for guaranteed fun. And it turns out, you don’t even need a pasta roller. Start simple with pici pasta. You’ll need nothing but flour, water and a rolling pin. If you want to kick it up a notch, invest in a pasta roller for about $30 (or buy an extension for your KitchenAid). With a roller, you’ll really be able to step up your pasta game and perhaps even rival the creations found at authentic Italian restaurants.
Nicli’s pasta dough is kneaded thoroughly and laminated multiple times before entering the pasta roller. For a taste of authentic, handmade pasta, head to to this new Gastown gem for a real treat.
Chef Keev Mah and owner Bill McCaig graciously shared their recipe for Nicli’s Chili Oil, a great addition to any dish, especially pizza.
Recipe: Nicli’s Chili Oil
1L olive oil (Nicli recommends Olitalia)
1 cup chili flakes
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat.
2. Place chili flakes and paprika in a heat resistant container or pot, then pour the hot oil on top and let cool. Presto!