Celebrating 40 years, La Bussola opened in Kelowna in 1974 when Jim Croce’s song “Time in a Bottle” got lots of radio play. While the restaurant has changed location, what remains is the family’s passion for excellence. For many customers who have celebrated milestones such as engagements, weddings and anniversaries, the lyrics resonate: “I’d save every day like a treasure and then, Again, I would spend them with you.”

Owners Francesco and Lauretta Coccaro were born in the quaint village of Valle dell’Angelo, Salerno, Italy. Growing up in an agricultural tradition of homecooking, learning your way around a kitchen was mandatory. Children Ersilia and Luigi spent summers in Italy at their grandparents immersed in the culture of producing olive oil, wine, cheese and fresh produce. Even today some of the produce on your plate comes from Lauretta’s garden, and in Italy, Nonna still makes olive oil. Naturally La Bussola focuses on fine Italian cuisine.

La Bussola translates to compass. With the iconic ship’s wheel which decorated the restaurant from the beginning, a good compass seems fitting as Franco shares his passage to Kelowna via Germany, France, Australia and cities such as New York City, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles and San Francisco. And the restaurant was magnetic north to the children after school. Lauretta laughs that after his birth, Luigi was brought straight there from the hospital. Luigi tells how he and his friends sidetracked to the restaurant during phys-ed classes on his mom’s bread baking days to mooch some before continuing their run. Now a certified sommelier, Luigi prides in keeping up and modernizing the amazing wine list Franco started.

Anniversary celebrations include the launch later this summer of a second space just down the street. With a casual ambiance, it will focus on comfort food. Its authentic Forno oven will offer Neapolitan-style cooking including pizza.

~ Roslyne Buchanan