The Canucks won't be eating at many Vancouver restaurants during the Stanley Cup playoffs. While in town, they will be holed up in a downtown Vancouver hotel and taking meals together as a team almost exclusively. But during regular season, the players eat out a lot - and very well. Herewith, five favourite hangouts where you can eat like a Canuck.
Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill
1133 Hamilton St., 604-688-7466
This outstanding fine-dining Italian restaurant is the preferred date-night destination for many Canucks and their wives. Game 1 hero Raffi Torres is a regular, as are Kevin Bieksa and Henrik and Daniel Sedin. All four players are big fans of the chef's pasta, including his chickpea gnocchi and penne alla vodka (a dish he makes specially for Torres). The Sedin brothers, who often come in to celebrate a big win, love his dry-aged tenderloin, and order it with Australian shiraz. Although you'll rarely see him in the dining room, the player who eats from this kitchen most often is Roberto Luongo. The ace goaltender is highly superstitious about his game-day routines, meals included. The night before home games - almost every regular-season home game - he calls up and orders the exact same dinner to go: prosciutto di Parma, minestrone and lobster linguine (or lately, paccheri di Gragnano with Salt Spring Island lamb ragout). "He eats at home with his family," the chef says. "He's very focused. He doesn't want to be distracted."
Glowbal Grill Steaks and Satay
1079 Mainland St., 604-602-0835
"If the Canucks are in town, they're in one of our restaurants," says owner Emad Yacoub. (The Glowbal Group also includes Italian Kitchen, Trattoria, Coast, Sanafir and Society). Before a game, they'll often go for lunch to fill up on carbohydrates at the restaurant closest to wherever they live. (Alex Burrows goes to Glowbal; you'll find Tanner Glass at Italian Kitchen and the Sedins both go to Trattoria.) Generally, they all stick to pasta with light tomato sauce. But after the game, they'll dig in to something heavier - huge platters with a 1.8-kilogram Tomahawk steak, tuna, halibut, shrimp and Glowbal's famous spaghetti with truffle cream and Kobe meatballs, for instance. The Glowbal Group also serves many visiting teams. Mr. Yacoub doesn't see this as a conflict of interest: "You probably shouldn't write this because I don't want to jinx it," he says. "But I love overfeeding the other teams. It slows them down on the ice. And so far in these playoffs, they've been losing all their games the next day. Always!"
Nicli Antica Pizzeria
62 East Cordova St., 604-669-6985
Roberto Luongo loves pizza. The Italian-Canadian goaltender actually met his wife, Gina Cerbone, at the Pizza Time Trattoria, his regular hangout in Coral Springs, Fla., while playing for the Panthers. (Her father was the restaurant owner.) But he won't eat just any old pizza. It has to be real Italian pizza, cooked in a wood-burning oven, with a thin crust, simple tomato sauce and traditional toppings. After being traded to the Canucks in 2006, Mr. Luongo was so disappointed by Vancouver's dire pizza situation that he began thinking about investing in a place of his own. Enter Nicli Antica, a new Gastown pizzeria that is seeking authenticity certification from the Verace Pizza Napoletana Americas association. Owner Bill McCaig is so strict about the quality of his pizza he won't allow anyone to order takeout, lest the blistered cornicione flop on the way home. The only exception to the rule? "I did say 'No takeout,'" Mr. McCaig explains. "But I understand. Luongo gets mobbed wherever he goes. If he wants to take it home, he can take it home. As long as I'm not there to see it." Nicli's Margherita, Napoletana and Diavola pies must have earned Mr. Luongo's stamp of approval. He's been back several times for more.
350 Davie St., at the Opus Hotel, 604-642-0557
This is Ryan Kesler's favourite restaurant in Vancouver. He's even said so on Hockey Night In Canada. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that proprietor Peter Girges is one of his best friends. But the rest of the team seems to like it, too. You'll often find them here for post-practice breakfast, filling up on massive platters of bacon, eggs and toast. The restaurant also serves many pre-game team dinners. Chef Brandon Thordarson created a new dish this season - pasta carbonara with chicken Parmigiana - for Alexander Edler, who eats it before every game. After a big win, Mr. Kesler will come in for Parmesan truffle fries or lobster risotto with halibut. "Those are treats for him," Mr. Girges explains. "They say, 'Yeah, I just had a really good game.'"