Just over a year ago, this article would have been very short, indeed. More like non-existent: the state of our flatbread scene was a flatline. But a recent explosion of pizzerias is proving Vancouverites are willing to shell out dough for the real thing. As DailyXY recently reviewed Main Street’s Pizzeria Farina, a quick recap of the city’s other top contenders is in order.
Verace Pizzeri and Enocteca
Hidden on an out-of-the-way roundabout across from a virtually abandoned International Village Mall and the T & T Supermarket, this Enoteca is the product of owner Roberta King’s association with Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN), Italy’s pizza governing body. While her credentials are impeccable, reviews of what comes out of the brick-lined gas oven have been mixed. We were more than happy with the sweet saltiness of the Capri (ricotta, spicy Genoa salami, fenuccio salami, roasted onions and Grana Padano) but the un-ironic use of “EVOO” (peppy TV short-order cook Rachael Ray’s acronym for extra virgin olive oil) on the menu did give us pause. 189 Keefer Place, 604-669-5552.
Novo Pizzeria & Wine Bar
Out with the old and in with the new. The 2,000 square-foot space that housed Incendio West — a restaurant that did more than its share to cement our city’s lacklustre pizza reputation — has been replaced by Carmine Paradiso and Roger Visona’s labour of love. Graduates of VPN’s Los Angeles satellite school, these former construction guys have overhauled the space and replaced the former resto’s gas-burning oven with a wood-fired one. Also gone are the red-and-white checked tablecloths and candle-holding Chianti bottles of mediocrity, replaced by a slick and modern interior straight out of an Idomo Furniture catalogue. Our pick is the pitch-perfect Prosciutto & Arugula, which pairs its happy topping couple with scrapings of Reggiano cheese on a bubbly, crisp crust. 2118 Burrard Street, 604-736-2220.
Owners Andrea Bini (the “Bi”) and Lorenzo Bottazzi (the “Bo”) have eschewed VPN certification in favour of being actual Italians (and aristocrats at that). Adding to their bona fides is Salvatore, a second-generation pizzaiolo imported directly from Naples. The décor of white-painted brick, deep red accent walls and Costco-style leather couches is a little cold and the service can be distracted, but it’s worth it for their signature pie, the Formula One — a high-end take on a classic Margherita with fresh San Marzano tomato sauce, imported basil and creamy buffalo mozz. 1835 West 4th Ave., 604-568-6177.
The one that started it all: Nicli Antica opened earlier this year to much fanfare; the nightly lineups prove it has yet to die down. Owner Bill McCaig credits his Italian grandmother for his inspiration and the SoCal VPN school for the technique that creates what is arguably the best pizza in the city. Our pick is the all-dressed Capriccosia (pomodoro, Parmigiano, fior di latte, prosciutto cotto, artichokes, funghi, black olives, basil) or the day’s special — whatever it is. 62 East Cordova St., 604-669-6985.
Image courtesy of Nicli Antica.