Choose Your Own Adventure: Gastown Crawl with Alibi Room, The Diamond & Nicli Antica Pizzeria

Pub/restaurant crawls are tons of fun! Especially when you don’t plan out exactly where you’re going — it keeps things spontaneous and exciting! It’s good to go to an area with good density of worthy spots where you can have a drink and a bite at each place and basically experience the best of each place, all in one night! Main St. is a good area, as is Robson & Denman area, but Gastown felt right for this particular rain-free evening. Things got progressively fuzzier as the night wore on. Good thing I always have my camera!

Places visited (barely qualifies as a “crawl”):

Alibi Room

I don’t go to Alibi Room enough. There’s always something worth trying on their ever-evolving beer list.


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They had at least four different wet-hop/fresh-hop beers! I went with Double Mountain Killer Green IPA. The staff was kind enough to give me a sample of the Persephone Harvest IPA which was another fresh-hop beer. Totally different beers. The Persephone was more gentle and laid-back whereas the Double Mountain was bigger and more flavourful with strong piney notes but still balanced enough to be quite enjoyable.


Staggered double-fist: Four Winds Witicism (Lacto-fermented Witbier with Black Lemon & Coriander) and the afore-mentioned Double Mountain Killer Green. Witicism was sooooo good. My idea of a completely approachable and enjoyable witbier. That touch of tartness makes it so delicious.


LEFT:  Yellow Dog Play Dead IPA. RIGHT: Philips Cherry Heiter (Cherry-wood Smoked Cherry Ale). The Yellow Dog IPA was a straight-up awesome fruity IPA. A no-brainer for IPA-heads. This was the first beer I’ve ever had from the new Yellow Dog Brewing located in Port Moody. Very impressed.

I actually don’t remember what the Cherry Heiter tasted like, although Fatone really enjoyed it.


Powell St. White IPA and NoLi Rise & Grind Dark Milk Ale with Coffee. Loved the White IPA. I don’t get to Powell St. often enough. The NoLi beer had a bit TOO much coffee for me, although the coffee-drinkers at the table liked it.


The food at Alibi Room doesn’t get a fair shake. I think it’s better than the food at St. Augustine’s. Definitely. Who could resist their Bucket of Fries (skinny fries) with their thick ‘n tangy housemade ketchup? Or these free-run Chicken Wings with sweet chili garlic sauce?


I’m glad they’ve added the Meatballs to their regular menu. I first tried them during Alibi Room’s 500th Tap List Celebration and they’re still good. They’ve tweaked it a bit, adding greens and pesto.

It was still pretty early, so we kept the momentum going by heading over to Shebeen to see if we could get some whiskey-face. The bad thing about Gastown on the weekends is that it’s always SUPER-BUSY. We were lucky that Alibi wasn’t too bad but when we headed over to Shebeen/Irish Heather, Shebeen was booked solid all night and The Irish Heather was standing-room-only. That makes it kinda bad for a potential pub-crawl destination because you need places that aren’t too busy and can be worthy spur-of-the-moment destinations. Luckily, I’d always wanted to check out The Diamond, which was just around the block!

The Diamond


Here’s the cocktail-focused The Diamond, right beside Shitar. It’s up a flight of stairs on the second floor. They had just opened up the bar space next to the main Diamond space, but we hemmed and hawed a bit and they quickly found us space in the cozy main section of the bar. I got great vibes from the friendly staff this night!


They’re all about cocktails and shareable nibbles that go with cocktails.


The beer list is small but with a couple interesting choices. Unfortunately they were out of Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Ale (a favourite) so I went for the more-than-competent Dale’s Pale Ale.


I love their cocktail categories: Boozy, Refreshing, Delicate, Proper, Notorious and Overlooked. Fatone got a Penicillin and urged me to try it. One sniff and I gagged. I just cannot stand the smell of the scotches used in the Penicillin. I describe it as the smell of bandaids — same smell that I get from Laphroaig Single Malt. Quite revolting to me, but I think some people like it and desire it. Fair enough.


Four kinds of proteins in your choice of Mexican vehicle. I chose Al Pastor Soft Tacos.


Dale’s Pale Ale. I think I last had this in Calgary. It’s a classic American pale ale that I’d drink any day of the week. Hoppy, fruity, aromatic but light at the same time and strikes that balance between flavour and quaffability.


Four Cheese Dip with White Bean & Artichoke Hearts. At $10 we all thought the serving size could’ve been a bit bigger. But no complaints about the flavour.


Al Pastor with Pineapple Soft Tacos. I was surprised at how competent these tasted. If these were magically transported a few blocks away to La Taqueria, these wouldn’t taste out of place. Good job. The Dale’s Pale Ale echoes and complements the fruity pineapple flavours.


Save On Meats Chorizo. With that slight sour tang, these tasted pretty good and authentic.


The one slight disappointment of the night, Ellie’s Super Special Chocolate Dessert. Our main complaint was that it tasted of the fridge that it came from.


Man, it’s a beautiful view of Gastown from the second floor. The Diamond is my idea of a perfect, cozy date night place. There aren’t enough great second floor type places in Vancouver. It’s commonplace in Japan…

The Diamond on Urbanspoon

I’m sure it’s some historical quote.

So after our nibbles and Old Fashioneds at The Diamond, I enthusiastically and forcefully suggested Nicli Antica Pizzeria for some neapolitan style pizza. Luckily everyone else was game and I felt like Mr. Hot Shit for suggesting it. Things just kept getting better and better!

Nicli Antica Pizzeria

Wow, Nicli was a surprise for me. The pizza was great (as it usually is) but they seem to have vastly improved their service issues since my previous visits when they first opened shop three years ago. Back then, I thought the service was needlessly snooty, especially right when you walk in the door. Who wants to feel unwelcome and belittled when eating out? Well, for this visit, that feeling was replaced with warmth and accomodation. Great job.


Prize for most erotic beer of the night goes to Bruton Bianca, an Italian beer served in an appropriately phallic glass with a sliiiight curve. The head…well…yeah. I didn’t dare double-fist this one.

Nicli’s beer list isn’t amazing but they do have at least something that’ll appeal to beer geeks. This Bruton Bianca was a decent witbier! Not terrible!


Salsiccia e Cipolle (Sausage & Onion). Good amount of sausage. Neither stingy nor unbalanced. Cute basil leaves. I’ve never seen this variety of basil before. Have you?


Prosciutto e Rucola (Prosciutto & Arugula). I think they subbed basil on this one cuz it doesn’t look like arugula to me.


Good ol’ Margherita. Ariel and Fatone said they weren’t that hungry, but they demolished this!


The crust rocked. Centre part was slightly droopy (or “wet”, as it should be) but underside was charred with the essential leopard spots. Great example of that Neapolitan chewiness that can become addictive if you’re open to this style of pizza. As I was eating, I was thinking about how the Community Pizzeria food truck really nails something pretty close to this in a mobile oven. Along with Pizzeria FarinaPizzeria Barbarella, Pizza Carano and Don’t Argue Pizzeria, we are blessed to finally have some really good pizza in Vancouver. But, I’m open to more places that do their own twist 😉 New Haven-style pizza, anyone?

Nicli Antica Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

So this was the end of our crawl. We ended on a high, somewhere around the top of the curve on the pub crawl graph, before things go from YAAAY to OH NOOOOOO. Once people start talking about doing shots, that’s where I like to end it or exit the situation 😉


In my floaty, delightfully inebriated state, things started taking on grand personal significance. Was it all just a wonderful dream?

2 thoughts on “Choose Your Own Adventure: Gastown Crawl with Alibi Room, The Diamond & Nicli Antica Pizzeria”

  1. Yum! I now have a craving for Nicli :)… can’t get enough of wood fire pizza! Have you tried Nicli’s Next Door (or whatever it’s called…)

  2. We were almost gonna go there if Nicli was too busy. After the great experience at Nicli, I’m more inclined now to try Next Door 😀

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