Photographs by Conrad Brown, courtesy Caffé La Tana
Rome—where all roads lead to cinematic cafés—is too far-flung for a macchiato run. Thankfully, Caffè La Tana, a 1,100-square-foot boîte, opened last October in Vancouver’s Little Italy and is just as evocative as its Italian progenitors, with custom wallpaper that riffs on images in vintage pomology and zoology textbooks as well as antique accents that include a brass pendant designed by Luigi Caccia Dominioni in 1965. “I travel to Italy quite a bit—I still have family in the Marche region, and we’re doing a client’s house in Puglia,” says Craig Stanghetta, La Tana’s co-owner and creative director of the Vancouver design studio Ste. Marie, which dreamed up the restaurant’s interiors.
To achieve a steeped-in-time Old World effect, Stanghetta found his muses in Milan’s dreamy grocery–bakery–smoke shop Giacomo Tabaccheria and Adolf Loos’s American Bar in Vienna. Then he picked moody, saturated paint colors—Farrow & Ball’s Bone, French Gray, and Old White—for the interior. “We painted the whole space probably five times,” says Stanghetta. “We wanted it to be one really arresting palette that is super-deliberate and leans into that color choice.” To that end, Ste. Marie selected a flat matte finish to highlight the hand-applied plaster walls and imported antiqued green marble from Italy for counters.
Stanghetta and his team also nabbed a few classical paintings from the public domain, cropped and enlarged them, and finished them in gold leaf to turn a formerly lackluster wall into a showpiece. The hand-painted ceramic tile mural behind the bar features a truculent fox (“la tana” translates from the Italian as “the den”), a subtle nod to another Ste. Marie–designed Vancouver restaurant, Savio Volpe, or “wise fox.”
For Stanghetta, the imperfect result is decidedly perfect. “When you’re traveling in Europe and particularly in Italy, everything feels artisanal, like someone’s actual hand is behind the work,” he says. He could just as easily be referencing La Tana’s menu: All pastas—including stuffed tortelli, tagliatelle, agnolotti, and pappardelle—are house-made daily.