Influenced by traditional Italian osterias, Canadian design studio Ste Marie designed the Savio Volpe restaurant just off the Kingsway road in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood. The restaurant is a synthesis of what we call Italian Farmhouse Modern. The design was strongly inspired by three icons of Italian design: Carlo Mollino, Bruno Munari, and Enzo Mari. The result is a balance of simplicity, drama, and irreverence.


The finishes are rooted in an earthy quality much like most roadside Osteria’s or country Trattorias found throughout Italy. In that same vein, the food, wine, products, herbs, and preserves are given as much focus as the paintings on the walls. An ongoing interplay between assertive and simple, elemental and modernist is a mainstay of Italian culture.


“We tried to capture that quintessential Italian juxtaposition by running the theme of humble vs pretty throughout the design,” said Ste Maria’s Craig Stanghetta.

The mix of sconces with fabric lampshades and opaline glass highlight the apposing influence of modernist and “nonna” style in our lighting design. A similar exchange can be seen in the pleated oak walls that act as a modest rhythmic backdrop from which the mix of sartorial banquet seating stands out.

“As a nod to a simpler time, we keep a courtesy phone at the ready for those who require a lift home after dinner and packing away a Demi John of wine with friends and family,” added Stanghetta.


The design was undertaken by Ste. Marie who’s principal, Craig Stanghetta, is also co-owner of the venture. Ste. Marie is a studio that has a strategy based focus, the design direction is a marriage of their deep understanding of the business’s goals (a neighbourhood joint that is accessible yet elevated) and design insight that they use to understand and enhance those goals.

This can be seen in the design and programming of the central eating bar that becomes the nerve centre of the room and helps to create a strong community nucleus in the restaurant. The bespoke shelving that surrounds the open kitchen and frames the wood-fired grill and rotisserie is also used to showcase the restaurants beautiful collection of Italian groceries, house made preserves, and unique Italian wines. The design strives to be focused and ordered while remaining warm, fun, and welcoming.

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all images © Knauf and Brown