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Traditional Italian dining is returning to Port Moody — and in a familiar location

The new venture will occupy the same location where Rosa's Cucina Italiana satisfied generations of diners for 22 years
Spaghetti and meatballs are back in Port Moody and right where they belong. A new Italian restaurant, Osteria Povera, opens Monday in the space formerly occupied for 22 years by Rosa’s Cucina Italiana.

Port Moody diners who’ve been denied pasta and meatballs since beloved eatery Rosa’s Cucina Italiana closed last August will soon be able to twirl their forks full of noodles again.

And they’ll be able to do so in a familiar location.

Osteria Povera, a new Italian venture by Esteban Cuevas and his team at Originals Mexican restaurant on Clarke Street, is opening Monday (Feb. 27). And it’s in the very same spot where Rosa Gabrielli rolled her famous meatballs for 22 years before she hung up her apron for retirement.

Osteria Povera means “poor tavern.” But photos of menu items that can be found online promise the fare at the new restaurant will be anything but impoverished.

In addition to traditional pastas boiled al dente, like penne al pesto, tagliatelle ragu, gnocchi, vermicelli and linguine dishes, as well as baked entrées like lasagna, calzone and pizza, there’s also a variety of antipasto and salad appetizers along with a modest dessert selection of sweet Italian staples such as tiramisu, sorbetto, frittello di carnevale — a traditional carnival-style doughnut served with raisins and cinnamon infused with grappa — and, of course, lemon tart and ice cream.

The wine list is mostly Italian, with a dash of French and Okanagan selections in the mix. Beer options include bottled imports from Italy along with domestic drafts — three of them from nearby Brewers Row. Cocktails range from classics like negroni, Manhattan and gimlet, to five grappa-based drinks and a selection of digestivos.

And of course, what’s an Italian feast without a caffe finale — there’s five of those, plus four teas and a couple of fresh non-alcoholic drinks.

Rosa’s departure caused a lot of hand-wringing among Port Moody’s foodies as they lamented the loss of traditional Italian family dining from the local restaurant scene. 

"I have all the sads," said one on a local Facebook group, Lower Mainland Eats.

Over it’s long tenure in Port Moody, Rosa’s restaurant, with its tiny kitchen in the back where she toiled over massive pots of boiling noodles with her husband, Dennis, and daughter, Sonya, had gained a following that included celebrities like NHL hockey players Ryan Johansen and Harold Snepts, musicians like Michael Bublé, Jon Bon Jovi and K.D. Lang, along with politicians and personalities from TV, radio and film. 

Many of them gifted the restaurant with autographed photos that Rosa hung proudly on the dining room’s walls, each with a story and a memory that brought a smile.

But the most cherished photo of all, with a place of honour near the front door, was one of Rosa and her mother, Anna, with whom she started her cucina and was her inspiration for most of her recipes, including her famous meatballs and Caesar salad.

Osteria Povera is located at 2331 Clarke St.

For more information about Osteria Povera, you can go to its website.