Back Alley BBQ / Romolo Pizza Napoletana
About a few months ago I walked by Back Alley BBQ in Kensington Market during the middle of the afternoon and found it curious that the restaurant wasn't open. There wasn't any sign saying it was closed. I had eaten there a few times and liked the Asian take on BBQ but noticed it was never really that busy. I hadn't been by there since but then saw a BlogTO post about new (co)owners who are Italian and transforming it into an Italian resto.
Curious about the authentic, by the "STG" rules, pizza I checked it out today. I haven't been to Pizzeria Libretto yet although I've tried 3 times now, but each time the lines were too much for me. I've been to Italy once a few years ago so wanted to see if they could rekindle what I remembered having in Naples and throughout Tuscany.
No line up here, but there were about a half dozen tables worth of people (including the Rubino bros. hanging out by the window counter), way more than I'd ever seen previously. Like the website <http://www.backalleybbq.com>, the interior is mostly unchanged, so it's not clear that there is new ownership and a new direction. The menu, also keeps some nods to the old resto with ribs and other wood fired meats but the new Italian focus has definitely taken root. In addition to pizzas and meats they had panini and salad options. Since I came for pizza that's what I focused on, although the porchetta sandwich beckoned strongly (was it as good as Stockyard's?). I ordered a pizza with pancetta, sopressata, artichokes, and mushrooms. A few minutes later my pizza came taking up the entire plate and bubbling away. It was a good sign that it came so quickly indicating their oven was indeed regulation temperature. Note for the Terroni haters: the pizza did come sliced. Everything looked good, but while lifting up the first slice it felt a bit too limp. Looking under at the bottom of the crust it wasn't very charred, confirming it didn't have the crispiness of the real deal I had in Italy. But, it was definitely tasty. The tomato sauce was bright and fresh tasting tasting, the sopressata had a very good kick to it, and the crust was tender. I think all it needed was to be left in the oven another 10 seconds or so and it would have been fantastic.
Definitely will go back to try their other menu items, especially the porchetta! I wish them all the best, and hopefully as they settle in, they'll revamp the decor, redo the website, and lose the old name, to match the new direction of the restaurant.
Agreed, the pizza here is pretty good, though not perfect. Last time i went the crust was slightly underdone, there was a bit too much cheese, and i would have preferred a little more basil. While i think the pizza at Libretto is better, i'm not sure it's worth the extra hassle.
Just want to add that I found a great pizza place in Woodbridge using wood fired ovens, the finished product is ALOT like Libretto's and the place isn't as much of a zoo.. It is called "Ice Cream Patio"
idiotic name, i know, i don't think theres even any ice cream in the place