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High-end Italian restaurant permanently lifts ban on diners using their cellphones

"It's time to let the ban go."

When Acquafarina opened its doors at the end of 2020, the upscale downtown Vancouver Italian restaurant was shrouded in a bit of mystery.

Rather than the usual onslaught of opening buzz via Instagram photos, blog posts, and TikToks offering glimpses inside the operation and the food, Acquafarina got its start with a firm "no cellphone" policy. "Pics or it didn't happen" just didn't apply - because no one was allowed to take any pics.

Now with over a year in business under its belt (and a recent two-week suspension of the cellphone ban), Acquafarina says it's ready to let customers bring their phones to the table...they just have to be polite about it. Diners are asked to turn their ringers off and step outside into the lobby to take or make calls. 

"The response to our two-week phone trial was amazing," says owner Fabrizio Foz in an email from the restaurant. "Everyone loved it. The energy was electric. The room felt right."

"It's time to let the ban go," adds Foz.

Foz notes that the origin of the no phone ban stemmed from the uncertainty that surrounded Acquafarina's first weeks and months, given the pandemic-related public health measures that put restrictions on indoor dining operations. 

The restaurateur, who also owns Yaletown's popular Per Se Social Corner, also notes that Acquafarina's identity was a little uncertain initially, too "It was originally supposed to be an upscale pizza restaurant, then we went to fine dining and the public health restrictions kept changing," explains Fox.

Indeed, back in November 2020, we noted that what we thought was going to a pizza-centric spot called Water + Flour had actually morphed into what we now know as Acquafarina. 

At the time, too, Acquafarina's dining experience was centred on a tasting menu, though a la carte options did become available.

Now, however, the options are expanding further at the restaurant - and they have a new local veteran overseeing the kitchen. 

In addition to dinner service - with an extensive a la carte menu now available along with a tasting menu that rotates monthly - Acquafarina will now be open for lunch and aperitivo hours (an afternoon "happy hour" food and drink option). The new culinary director is Jefferson Alvarez, whom Vancouver food fans will recognize as being the co-chef/operator of Kitsilano's Latin-fuelled Cacao and chef of the former Secret Location restaurant in Gastown.

The big changes to Acquafarina are in effect already, so you can expect to see more photos online of people's dining adventures at the posh downtown restaurant. 

Acquafarina is located at 425 W. Georgia St in Vancouver