Over the last couple of years pizza has taken a giant step in Vancouver. We now have some great options and differing styles.
Which have you tried? What are your favorites?
Some places to reference are:
Looking forward to hearing your opinions!
I have tried Pizza Farina, Barbarella and Don't Argue. I was pleased by all of them; there are variations in crust and toppings but I would eat again at any of them.
Been to a lot of them. I'd also add a few more to the mix for discussion:
- Campagnola Roma (Good)
- Pizza Garden (NY style - very good)
- Cotto (Good)
- Brick Oven Pizzeria (Decent)
- Verace (Did they rename recently?)
- Famoso (Just ok)
- Mercante (Just ok - but for the location a great option)
I've got some photos that I'll post below in case people want to see them for themselves.
Pizzeria Barbarella's Salsiccia. It was topped with tomato, fior di latte, aged mozzarella, fennel sausage, house pickled peppers, basil, parmigiano reggiano and extra virgin olive oil. The fennel seeds in the sausage added the perfect flavour punch to each bite. The crust was perfect for this style - the centre was softer, but not falling apart, and the outside was crispy but not burned. It was easy to pick up a piece, fold it, and eat it without things falling apart. The bottom of the crust had a nice leopard spotting from the perfect char.
Trilussa's arugula, sausage and mozzarella. This spot serves pizza al metro style (the type where you say how much you want and they cut it off to that amount). The crust had a nice chew and was perfectly charred on the edges. The bite of the arugula combined nicely with the other ingredients. But the highlight was the sausage, which was a perfectly seasoned non-commercial tasting sausage. So many places put a nasty commercial tasting sausage on their pizzas. Not here. Good stuff! My only wish would be if they would use just a fraction less olive oil in it. It was delicious, but could have been just slightly less oily (not a lot, just slightly).
Pizza Garden's regular slice (AKA Margherita). This is a typical NY style slice shop. It is right off of the Granville entertainment district and was a really pleasant surprise. They use a Wood Stone open oven, and producing a very VERY respectable NY style slice for a reasonable price ($2.25/slice, or $5.50 for 2 slices and a drink).
The key here clearly is getting whatever is coming fresh out of the oven, as the slices sitting in the warming tray did not look anywhere near as good.
Luckily the friendly guy behind the counter was just taking out a basic no fancy schmancy toppings pizza from the over so I got to enjoy my favourite - a regular slice. The crust was very good, with just the right chew while still being crispy and light. It folded perfectly. The bottom had a nice leoparding with a slight char. The sauce was rich and flavourful, the cheese just right, and there was a little bit of olive oil on top just like in NY.
Campagnolo Roma's diavolo. Was well executed. The crust had a nice chew and char. The spicy salami added just the right amount of heat to a rich yet not overpowering sauce. Considering this is not a pizza specialist they did a superb job on it.
Bibo's Margherita. Neapolitan style. The pizza arrived nice and hot with a wonderful char on the crust. The outside edges were crunchy with a softer centre - like it should be. It had a very light overall flavour. The cheese was a bit light for my taste, and seemed to be slighter lower quality than many other places around town.
Mercante's Alla Salsiccia. Unlike several years ago, clearly Neapolitan style is popping up all across town - even in some VERY unlikely locations like this. I had heard that a new Neapolitan spot opened up in the unlikely location of the UBC campus. Huh? Really? Couldn't be. So I hightailed it over there (to hell with difficult parking!) to try it out.
Based upon the huge line it was clear something different was going on here. Seems they have plopped an Italian cafe right in the middle of what would normally be a decent quality food vacuum filled with generic cafeteria style food outlets and fast food chains. Go figure.
The menu has a nice variety of Italian options including breakfast to the tune of Uova in Camicia in a breakfast sandwich format (poached egg in fontina fondue with choice of toppings), lunch/dinner options ranging from freshly made Neapolitan pizzas to pastas, and dessert options including affogato, tiramisu, and torta di cioccolato amaro. Had to check where I was after reading the menu.
I ordered the Pizza Alla Salsiccia, which was a very reasonable $9.50 - perhaps the least expensive Neapolitan place around town? It was described as having chorizo, tomato, basil, oregano and mozzarella. After ordering they prepared it fresh in the open kitchen and threw it into the large open oven to bake it off. The pizza was composed well, and properly baked off. The dough had a good amount of chew and was softer in the centre as it should be. It was slightly too thick overall though so it was a bit too doughy for my preference, but I'm nitpicking. The toppings are where it differed from the newer places around town - they were decidedly lower in quality - everything from the tomato sauce to the cheese to the sausage. They weren't terrible, but the quality difference was noticeable. Also as a stylistic preference, I prefer when they don't fully bake off the basil leaves and leave them fresher on top in the last minute. These were baked down to brown/black. Overall the pizza was decent - not at the level of several of the other newer spots around town, but if this was 8 years ago it could have been categorized as one of the better pizzas in Vancouver.
Novo's diavallo (sic). Neapolitan style served with hot capicollo, onion, chili flakes and basil. Granted I've never seen it spelled that way, but I digress.
The cooking was a bit uneven with one or two chars that were past char and into charcoal range on the crust. But I digress, as barring the charcoal bits the crust was otherwise good. It was thin, crunchy on the outer parts and softer in the centre as it should be.
The toppings were of decent quality. I would have liked a bit more heat.
Verace's diavola. This spot comes in right about average among that new pack of places. I ordered the Divola, which they describe has having fresh tomatoes, spicy genoa salami, capicollo, roasted red onion and peppers, topped with grana padano, fresh basil and evoo. The capicollo was very good - it had the proper aged flavour and was definitely the highlight of the toppings by far. The spicy genoa salami was a disappointment - it had almost no flavour, no spice, and was rather uninspired. The tomatoes had a nice strong flavour. There were very few onions and peppers so they didn't contribute much flavour wise. The crust itself had a good chew, but had already cooled substantially by the time it made it to the table unfortunately. It came with two bottles of oil - one chili oil and one garlic oil. The chili oil had almost no flavour to it. I don't think the chili had been sitting in it long enough. The garlic oil was very good.
The pizza came with a complimentary side caesar salad, which had crisp leaves but was slightly overdressed.
Cotto's carbonara and margherita pizzas. What happens when you take a chef that has worked under Jean George, Daniel Boulud, Christian Delouvrier, and Frank Dodd who then worked at Cioppino and stick him out in the burbs owning and operating a pizza place?
The answer is simple: Cotto.
This suburban pizzeria has the feel of a family dining restaurant chain like Earl's or Cactus Club complete with multiple young hostesses standing by the door not doing much while waiting to seat people. It seems they put some money into the place, yet it feels very corporate. Let's just say it felt like a chain, and I was surprised it wasn't. Perhaps there are big plans ahead.....
We started with the complimentary fresh baked bread which was served with a white bean dip. The bread had a nice crust, and the dip was smooth and flavourful, as it was sitting in a bit of nice oil.
Our Insalata Rucola then arrived. It had arugula, Gorgonzola, crispy pancetta, pickled cucumber, pressed cantaloupe, pinenuts, with a red wine vinaigrette. Everything worked really nicely - including the pressed cantaloupe which added a pleasant sweetness - with the exception of the pickled cucumber. It was jarring and the salad would have been better without it. Overall a nice salad with some interesting components and nicely dressed.
The pizza margherita had a pleasant char and leoparding. It may have been about 15 seconds too long in the oven for my taste - but that is a personal preference as I prefer my pizza slightly softer than many people do. The tomatoes had a heartiness that really worked well. A very solid job on this pizza, with the exception of the basil leaves being a bit burned and not having a strong basil taste.
The pizza carbonara was a real treat. This one was cooked more to my liking - perhaps the toppings protected it a bit - or perhaps they took this one out first? It had guanciale, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, fonduta, roasted garlic, and a 63° egg. The guanciale really gave a carbonara feel to the pizza. It was a delicious local one. The egg was perfectly cooked, and breaking it and spreading it over the pizza really enhanced the overall flavours. A delicious pizza!
Overall the pizzas and salad were very good. I'm not a fan of the atmosphere - I'm not a fan of the family dining genre. But their pizza has pulled me back several times.
... of the places suggested - i'm looking for a place near Georgia and Burrard (downtown Vcvr) that is open EVENINGS THU thru SAT in Dec - for take-out -
we would walk over and p/u ... from Georgia and Burrard
1. i saw the post about Pizza Garden on Smithe ----
2. and I saw this place just by google search --- they promote thin crust hand tossed - anyone been?
our preference (suitable for all ages and tastes) is a good Margherita pizza (real basil, real tomato, real mozza)
and we also go for good old traditional Cdn style - hawaiian regular crust
thank you in advance
re: Georgia Strait
The best Hawaiian style 'za I've had in Vancouver is from Firewood on Cambie. Check out #9 here http://www.thefirewoodcafe.ca/the_men... and see if it appeals. I also like their Asiago pizza. It's been a while, though, as we've been sucked into the Via Tevere vortex. Can't believe I go before opening to any restaurant but there you have it. Just don't order anything else on the menu (except the arugula salad).
re: Georgia Strait
We've had #6 (grilled veggies) and #21 (Tuscany) during the past 4 weeks. Both were good.
You want updates of Firewood reviews from us, post a question on the weekends, since Friday nights are our pizza nights and half the time we're doing Firewood if I'm not making them myself (from now on using fresh un-frozen dough from Original New Town Bakery also in Cambie Village).