VieAMaggi.com

Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Category: pizza Page 1 of 7

Nightingale revisted

It has been a while since I visited “Nightingale”, I was reminded of it thanks to the success of “Netflix’s” romantic comedy, “Always be my Maybe”. It centres around the restaurant industry and therefore uses several Vancouver restaurants as its backdrop. “Nightingale” makes an appearance as “Saintly Fare”, a new restaurant opened in San Francisco by our main character, Chef Sasha Tran. In the movie it is clear that the two storey restaurant with its bird cages and origami bird accents is actually “Nightingale” on Hastings at Burrard.

My original visit was right when it opened in 2016, and back then I didn’t have a very memorable meal, so was looking forward to reassessing it now, with all its new found success and film notoriety.

We arrived in time for happy hour cut off, Sunday to Wednesday from 3-5:30pm. So ordered their popular “buttermilk fried chicken” for $3 less. It was dressed in a spiced maple syrup with sumac and pickles. Not your classic fried chicken flavour, but just as crunchy and tasty in its sweet sauce and tangy pickles. Although I would have preferred this over waffles given its sweetness and natural alignment for brunch.

I was excited to see “Chicharron” on the menu, but was disappointed by its execution. I have had pork rinds before and given the nature of the restaurant, I figured it would be an elevated rendition. Instead, these were fairly dense crisps, heavier than I thought they would be, with a harder crunch. Not only was it tough to eat, but it lacked flavour with its simple charred lemon salt seasoning.

For our entrees we shared a pizza and a pasta dish. The “Summer squash” pizza was thin crust dough topped with Fresno chilli, mozzarella, san marzano, and fior di latte. It reminded me of a sweet Margherita pizza at its core. But with the unique starch and woodsy-ness of the sweet squash, balanced by the salty cheese and fragrant crispy basil leaves.

The “Chitarra pasta” was similar in its lightness. Rich in flavour and not in sauce, it was a little dry with the duck ragu, crispy sage, and pecorino romano. Overall it was tasty enough, but I prefer a saucy pasta and something less salty. With this, we finished a litre of water between us.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
It certainly is a nice spot, but the food just doesn’t satisfy as other pastas and pizzas at other restaurants have/do. Don’t deny your cravings.

NIGHTINGALE
1017 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 0C4
604-695-9500
hawknightingale.com

Backcountry Brewing, #pizzachallengeyvr

Today the weather was beautiful, the skies were blue and the sun was shining. Ideal conditions for a nice cruise up the Sea to Sky highway. And since we would be driving to it, this was also as good of a time as any to stop at Squamish for lunch. Squamish, home of the town’s only brewery, “Backcountry” and their tasting room with full bar and pizza kitchen. It was also the next stop on my Vancouver Foodster #pizzachallengeyvr tour, with me playing the role of one of the three judges.

And this Easter long weekend the neighbourhood too decided to come out to “Backcountry Brewing” for a pint and a pie. Luckily, we were able to grab the tail end of a share style table, without any wait. You order your drinks and your meal at the bar, the former you take with you back to your seat, the latter gets brought out to you.

But many more visitors came in to purchase beers in bulk. Their full assortment was available for grab and go in refrigerator units, you also had the option to buy a grower and fill it from their taps. And to complete the experience, you can drink your “Backcountry” beer out of one of their branded glasses, while wearing their outdoor lifestyle merch. All also available for purchase.

Naturally, we had to start our meal with said beers. Especially considering this is a brewery, and that you can see the tanks from any seat in their open dining area.

My guest had the “Ridge runner Pilsner” for a nice crisp drink.

I will always opt for a flight, to be able to taste more in one go. I choose the following based on their names. Each more and more fun as I moved along. The “I’ll have what she is having” is a peach, boysenberry, and mango sour that actually isn’t all that sour. The “Dead of night galaxy IPA” uses galaxy hops exclusively, for a lighter and fruiter brew. “Everything is coming up Milhouse” is the West coast version of their popular “Widow Maker” beer, but crisper and lighter. And the “Really really ridiculous looking” is new on tap, a lighter and fruitier lager that ended up being my favourite of the afternoon. Each brew I tasted was just as good as the next, each unique, each delicious. They weren’t overwhelming, but easy to drink.

When it came to food, first came the pizza I was sent here to try. “I pity the falafool”, a vegetarian pizza that catered to Squamish’s plant-based eating. Tahini, feta, falafel, halloumi, yogurt, and mint. This was the only vegetarian entry for this year’s competition. I have never had a pizza like this before, and it lived up to its name and the expectations you had reading it. You absolutely got the promised flavour a falafel. It ate like a whole other meal, making it a great vegetarian offering that didn’t have it feeling like you were missing anything. It was also just as complex as any other meat-happy pies on the menu. It had an all encompassing Mediterranean feel, that I would be happy with the next time I am craving the distinct flavour of a falafel.

We also tried their Margherita pizza, wanting a base pizza flavour that we are familiar, and could use to gauge the quality of the pizzas coming out of their kitchen. The crust was beautifully baked with plenty of air bubbles and crispy blackened bits. It checked off all the boxes. Where it lacked was in the depth of the sauce. It was a little two sweet for my taste, whereas I would have liked more seasoning and a lot more fior di latte cheese. Therefore I suggest getting one of their specialty pizzas that they do so well, instead.

Like the “Wake-N-Bacon 3.0”. Maple garlic cream, roasted potato, guanciale, mozzarella, oven cured tomato, and a sunny side up egg. A delicious assembly altogether, but it was really the maple syrup that made all the difference. This was also the chef’s favourite pizza, and a popular brunch option. Salty, sweet, and savoury all rolled into one. My only critique is I wanted more runny egg to go around, only one slice and one person gets to have egg.

We also tried their new “Galaxy Pastrami Sandwich”. The pastrami is brined in their Galaxy IPA, hence the name. It is stacked between two thick slices of herbed focaccia, along with gruyere cheese and a mustard vinaigrette slaw. Served with a side of regular chips, and their in-house made beer pickles. It was a thick and delicious looking sandwich, but a little too dry for my tastes. I was left craving a creamy sauce, more mayonnaise, or even a gravy dip to dunk the sandwich into for moisture. The sides offered a change of taste and texture and helped in getting this down. I liked the pickles the most, but would have liked them sweeter for a better contrast. I did like the meat as is, they were quality you can taste. Similarly the crispy toasted bread would have been great as is with a slather of salted butter.

For some spice in any of the above, each seating had a bottle of their beer infused “Backcountry Brewing” hot sauce. It is prepared locally using their “Ridge Runner Pilsner”. Like their beers it gives you want you expect, without being overpowering.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A great spot to stop at when in Squamish great pizzas and beers coming together for a delicious lunch or brunch. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BACKCOUNTRY
405-1201 Commercial Way, Squamish BC, V8B 0R5
604-567-2739
backcountrybrewing.com

 

 

To learn more about the Vancouver Foodster Pizza Challenge, visit the link. And then try all the competitors to vote for your favourite.

Pizza Challenge

Firecrust: BBQ Fest, #pizzachallengeyvr

Today I found myself at “Firecrust” on Davie, just in time for dinner and the crowds that came in for an easy meal solution.

Right when you enter you are greeted by their build your own pizza bar. It runs down the length of the restaurant and ends at their specialty pizza oven. Here, you can customize any pie or salad for $11.95. Craft your own pizza by choosing your sauce, cheese, protein, and veggies. Or salad from the greens to the cheese, protein, veggies, and dressing. A choice made between 30 premium ingredient.

The possibilities were endless, but I was swayed by their “BBQ Fest” advert. I love a good themed menu, and even more so if it is only available during a limited time. This checked off all the boxes, so I found myself trying 3 out of the 4 pizza offerings on this menu.

And one of them happened to be the entry for this year’s Vancouver Foodster’s #pizzachallengeyvr. This is the “Bacon Mac & Cheese” pizza and it is exactly as it sounds. Macaroni and cheese with crispy bacon, topped with more shredded cheddar before it is baked. Served with a side of coleslaw. It was doubly comforting, two fan favourites served together as an easy handheld. But be warned the toppings are heavy, so easily fall off. Best eaten with knife and fork. I would have liked the the noodles a tad more firm and the cheese more stringy like pizza cheese. However, the bacon was perfection. Its crispy texture was great with the gooey and starchy mass of noodles. Overall a anytime snack, but best when craving carbs or the munchies.

The coleslaw had a nice flavour to it, something tangy and crunchy to change the flavour with. Though I liked it better with the pulled pork pizza, a combination we discovered when enjoying the pizza with the mound of slaw that topped it.

Though slaw on pizza does have it getting warm and melty quick. But it gave an otherwise one note: sweet and tangy BBQ-full pizza some freshness. This pie featured “Firecrust’s” own hickory BBQ sauce as its sauce base, then more of it found its way over plenty of pulled pork, caramelized onions, and shredded cheddar. It is all baked together and served with a side of mac and cheese, so you don’t miss out. I liked the sweet sauce on the pulled pork, but felt like I needed more to complete it. I ended up picking out all the onion, out of preference; there was a lot, almost 1:1 between it and the pork meat.

The mac and cheese was exactly like the one used on the pizza above. A little too mushy.

The apple pie pizza was a creative spin and very much so the way you want to end a BBQ dinner. Baked apples, cinnamon, and crushed graham crackers over a regular pizza crust. Its description read it being topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but we got whipped cream and caramel drizzle instead. Not that it really matters I guess, either would have melted quick under the warmth of the fresh to bake pizza. But the ice cream would have completed the apple pie feel more, and especially if they topped it with yellow cheddar chunks. That would really take this pie on a pizza idea full circle. Whereas like this, I found it lacking. I liked the idea, but wanted more of it. More graham cracker than just the chunks moulded with butter. Graham as the crust, or at least a sweet dough base to build this pie up on.

And to lighten up our decadent meal we also ordered a salad to share. Some freshness to balance out all the grease. The “South west salad” with kale, roasted chicken, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, corn, black beans, corn chips, shredded mozzarella, and a chipotle lime dressing. This was mostly a large serving of greens, you tossed up, but just couldn’t seem to mix everything evenly. The heavier ingredients fell to the bottom and there was far too much leafy greens to sift though to find them. I would have liked less and maybe a different green. A lighter lettuce or spring mix, the former would have also flowed better with the taco flavour too.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
An easy stop for some delicious, fast, and possibly healthy food, (so should you choose). Build your own pizza or take their menu’s advice. And for something fun, enjoy their “BBQ Fest” options, available now until April 28th, 2019. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

FIRECRUST
808 Davie Street, Vancouver BC, V6Z 2S2
778-379-9646
firecrustpizzeria.com

 

 

To learn more about the Vancouver Foodster Pizza Challenge, visit the link. And then try all the competitors to vote for your favourite.

Pizza Challenge

Mordimi Bite of Italy, #pizzachallengeyvr

I was once again trying out a new pizzeria, thanks to Vancouver Foodster, and me being one of the three judges for this year’s #pizzachallengeyvr. This one was only two months old. But as I would soon learn, owned and operated by a highly experienced and passionate husband and wife team. They are not new the pizza game, having ran a pizzeria for over two years before, and a coffee shop prior to that.

They currently call Hastings street their home. A little shop with a handful of seats and the operations out in the open, behind them. A counter with baked good for point and purchase, their stainless steel work space, and a chalkboard scrawling declaring that the “guy making your pizza is a pizzaiolo”.

The restaurant boasted an ever changing menu. Every Sunday they offer up a different brunch items like paninis, sandwiches, and frittatas. Pastas are available for lunch and included the likes of angle hair with ox tail and a carbonara with egg and pork cheek. Every Thursday the pasta of choice is gnocchi, every Friday it is a stuffed ravioli. All the chosen filling and ingredients are based on what our chef found fresh at the market that week, or what he himself felt like eating on the day. Similarly, the desserts get changed up daily, each, also hand made in house.

We made sure to reserve the ones we wanted first, lest they be purchased by the time we finished our meal. We were eyeing the doughnuts, or rather “bigné”, as the Italian way they were called. A tidbit we learned from our chef/host who informed us that “donuts” are the North American copy of the original Italian version (or debatably French version). Here, these doughy rounds are made from puff pastry.

The “bigné with yuzu cream” offered up a good change of taste with its fresh citrus flavour. It was filled full with cream and had a similarly flavoured topping crowning with blueberry and meringue bits.

The “Caramel cream bigné with almonds and peanuts” was my favourite. It was soft under your bite with the toasted nuts giving you crunch. It wasn’t too sweet, but the saltines of the peanut gave you that perfect balance of salty and sweet with the whipped caramel cream filling.

The “Pistachio cream and raspberry bigné” was a different experience. This was definitely a one biter, a little squeeze and all the cream came oozing out the sides. And at the middle of it, a nice sharp tang of fresh raspberry jelly. Given how great each of the above was, I can confidently recommend “Mordimi” as a spot worth travelling to, just for these desserts.

They also offer their take on a mille feuille with custard, a tiramisu cup, and a lemon meringue parfait.

As for savoury we first tried the “best pizza challenge” contender: “Boscaiola”, or “A walk in the Italian forest”. It was prepared in the traditional Italian fashion with organic flour. Yeast is not used to raise the dough, instead, it is allowed to rise naturally across 4 days. All the ingredients used are fresh and never frozen. All these practices make this pizza the healthiest in the competition, and as it is known in Italy: a healthy meal solution. Italian black truffle, potatoes, mushrooms, asiago cheese, and fior di latte. It was very light, you were able to make out the flavours of each ingredient, with the rosemary being most prominent. The potatoes weren’t heavy, but offered a good starch. Although out of preference, I did find it a little bland, having me look out for an oil drizzle or some chilli to give it a little life.

We also tried their “Mordimi Calzone”. It used the same pizza dough as above, just folded over and baked chewier. Here, the pizza dough was more like bread. A pocket of dough sealing chicken pesto, parmigiano, sun dried tomatoes, yellow tomato sauce, and fior di latte inside. I appreciated the large chunks of chicken breast meat. It was fully marinated in the tasty pesto sauce. The tomatoes offered bursts of freshness, and the light cheese an agent to bind them all.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
If you are looking for authentic Italian pizza from a discerning chef. A chef who cares about the quality of ingredients, and the tradition of pizza being one of the most healthiest foods available: come here and be sure to save room for dessert. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MORDIMI
2638 E Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V5K 1Z6
604-253-0765
mordimi.ca
To learn more about the Vancouver Foodster Pizza Challenge, visit the link. And then try all the competitors to vote for your favourite. http://vancouverfoodster.com/pizza-challenge/

Sopra Sotto, #pizzachallengeyvr

Today I was at the original location of “Sopra Sotto”, to visit yet another Vancouver Foodster Pizza Challenge contestant. With this one you have your choice of location between their two. You are invited to both, to try their entry and vote of your favourite in the “People’s Choice” category.

“Sopra’s” original location is on Commercial Drive, it features their fully stocked bar. Their second and newest location is in Burnaby, and this past week it celebrated its first year anniversary. This is a smaller restaurant, but other than square feet, it offers pretty much the same experience; even down to their eye catching wallpaper littered with colourful birds. Except the Burnaby location has a deep fryer and they take advantage of it, with a handful of variations to their menu. Deep fried street food like a battered calamari. I liked that this gave you reason to visit both locales.

But today I choose Commercial Drive location as our destination, as my guest has yet to visit either of the two; and I wanted her to have the original, flagship location experience.

Our dinner started with their appetizer special of the day. A burrata board with the fresh and creamy cheese dressed in olive oil and smoked balsamic. Served with lusciously thin prosciutto, and in house made herbed focaccia. This was a build your own ham and cheese sandwich, all grown up and delicious. This was an assembly of great ingredients that foreshadowed the quality of the food to follow.

The “Tagliatelle e Tartufo” came highly recommended. This is long and flat pasta made fresh in-house, served in a truffle sauce, featuring a variety of mushrooms and parmigiano. Oyster, protobello and shiitake; I appreciated the textures and distinct flavours of each mushroom in the mix. You also got the flavour of the promised truffle intermingled in the saucy cream. All together this made for a very elevated dish, one that paired well with the specialty pizza below.

And this was the main reason why I was here. Here, to try the “Contadina”. A fresh pizza with plenty of toppings to sift through. Taleggio cheese, smoked pancetta, cherry tomatoes, mixed mushrooms and green onions. Fire baked with a even blackening around the crust. You smelled the bake and all the charing of the toppings as it approached you. Salty with the pancetta, juicy with the tomatoes, and fresh with the spring onions. The latter was a first for me: the first time having green onion on a pizza. But it was the dough that I enjoyed the most, it made all the difference. I especially liked being able to cut the pizza down to size at our table. Each snip of these kitchen sheers heightened the already hands on experience.

 

To learn more about the Vancouver Foodster Pizza Challenge, visit the link. And then try all the competitors to vote for your favourite.

Pizza Challenge

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A beautiful setting with fresh plates and attentive staff that matches it modern feel. However, my next visit to “Sopra” will be at their Burnaby location for some deep fried goodness. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SOPRA SOTTO
1510 Commercial Drive, Vancouver BC, V5L 2Y7
604-251-7586
soprasottovancouver.co

Il Posto, #pizzachallengeyvr

This is another restaurant I would not otherwise know about if not for the Vancouver Foodster. As I continued to judge all the contestants of this year’s Pizza Challenge I found myself in Ladner, at the threshold of “Il Posto”. A beautiful building, symmetrical with red and teal trimmed windows.

The restaurant is modern with several spaces to enjoy their food at. The main dining area by their bar, a private room towards the back, and a little breakfast nook up front by the windows. We picked the latter to be able to get a look at the sidewalk and the currently closed patio up front.

”Il Posto” has been open for a little over a year now. They are located on a popular strip of Ladner. The street is often closed to host such events as the Delta Classic car show, the cycling competition, Tour de Delta; and the lower mainland’s largest farmer’s market in summer.

They have only been offering brunch since November, and today we were here to get a taste. But first we would accompany our food with some classic brunch time cocktails. The easy to down “Aperol Spritz” in a large glass. Aperol, Prosecco, soda, and orange. And a double Caesar with vodka, Clamato and spices. This was the classic recipe with olives and pickled asparagus as garnish. Though they do ask you if you like it spicer or with extra Worcester.

In general the service here is amazing. You felt the good energy walking in. The hostess is welcoming and vibrant. She and our server made small talk and jokes, you immediately felt comfortable in your seat. During our stay we would meet many faces and it was the same for each. The table next to ours was celebrating a birthday and their server surprised him with a personal sized tiramisu, a lit candle, and a song.

Our second round of drinks included their “Italian 75” made with gin, lemon, and Prosecco. It packed a punch like an adult lemonade. And the Bellini with Prosecco and peach was a lot lighter by comparison. This wasn’t the classic rendition. No frozen slush, but all the flavours you’d expect. Sweet like a fuzzy peach.

For food I considered ordering their waffle dish, but decided against it after hearing that they weren’t made in house. They were prepared locally and brought in as a sweet breakfast option. So instead I took our server’s recommendation and had their salmon Benedict.

“Wild smoked salmon Benny”. Smoked salmon, pickled red onion, caponata, fried capers, and hollandaise on an English muffin. I never had a mix of onions and red peppers on a benny before. It gave this a zesty fajita feel, but it wasn’t one I liked. I found it combative against the likes of the salmon, an already very pronounced flavour. I found myself removing one or the other. I would have liked either on the side as a change of taste. Although the fresh greens and herbed potatoes proved capable in that regard. In fact the potatoes were my favourite part of this order. The restaurant doesn’t have a deep fryer in house, the chef works off of a pizza oven. So these cubes of tasty potato were cook within it at high temperatures for a great crispy shell. They were well seasoned, and for the first time I didn’t reach for ketchup on my breakfast potatoes. I also liked the creaminess of the perfectly poached egg and its runny yolk, and the foamy hollandaise that was much lighter than others I have had.

We also tried one of the “stone oven skillets”, the heaviest of the three options that had “Two poached eggs” with red wine braised beef short rib, leeks, roasted red pepper, mushrooms, potato hash, and a mornay sauce (a white, light, cheese cream sauce). Utilizing the skillet kept our meal warmer for longer, a good thing as the oil and sauce congealed once cooled. By comparison to the above I found these potatoes saucy and soggy. They were a lot heavier with the tender strands of meat. The first few bites were good, but I found myself wanting a break from the flavour. Here, the house made focaccia was great, but there was not enough of it. I could have eaten a loaf as is, it was so well seasoned with coarse salt and herbs. It was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with its air bubbles.

I didn’t need any additional seasoning, but if you do, the restaurant offers up bottles of their house made chilli oil and/or a rosemary thyme oil. These are best use as a drizzle or a dip on one of their pizzas. Like the one I was here to try.

This is the “Fat Tony”. Its name comes from the starter dough that they use. A dough that is made and allowed to rest for 48 hours. I liked it, as it was much like the focaccia above. A thin crust dressed with red sauce, sliced meatballs, caramelized onion, caciocavallo, pecorino, basil, and oregano; then finished with a garlic focaccia crumb. I liked the presentation, the fresh and full basil leaves, and the round meatball that crowned it. Although when it came time to eat, I would have preferred the leaves chopped up and the meat ball better divvied up. You got two meat balls in total, the other one was already sliced up and shared amongst the 6 slices. They are perfectly prepared, moist and still a little pink. And they sliced like butter. At the core of it, this is a solid margherita pizza, but with some creative and dressed up elements. It is also a little sweeter due to the caramelized onions and the sweetness in the tomato sauce. The sauce gets drippy and things get messy, it is best to eat with your hands.

 

To learn more about the Vancouver Foodster Pizza Challenge, visit the link. And then try all the competitors to vote for your favourite to win the people’s choice award.

Pizza Challenge

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
If they were in Vancouver I could see myself returning and frequenting. It is a nice restaurant, but a far commute for a meal, from my home in Burnaby. I don’t know much about Ladner, but based on our experience and overhearing all the positive conversations of the customers around us, this is the place to be. In their food you could taste the farms that surrounds them. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

IL POSTO
4866 Delta Street, Delta BC, V4K 2T8
604-946-1300
ilpostoresto.com

Pizza Carano, #pizzachallengeyvr

My pizza judging duties brought me to “Pizza Carano”. And today I walked in to their restaurant, eager to try their entry for this year’s Vancouver Foodster Pizza Challenge. I really enjoy such events, without them I wouldn’t get the opportunity to try such unique places. In them, getting suggestions for stops I wouldn’t otherwise think to make, like “Pizza Carano”

Located in Fraserhood with a simple interior and exterior you wouldn’t expect great Italian thin crust pizza lies within. Share style tables and bar stools front their open kitchen. Their menu is printed over mirrors and specials are written on ceramic cutting boards. You grab a seat anywhere and the server is quick to greet you.

Their menu had me indecisive, there were so many interesting possibilities. When ordering I tend to gravitate towards the more creative combinations, flavours or elements I have never tried or expected. And there was plenty to consider here. “Italian gomae” with currants and pinenuts, a Hawaiian Pizza with roasted macadamia nuts, a white sauce pizza with ham and pistachio. We eventually managed to narrow our choice down to the following, with no regrets.

The “Marinated smoked olives” are a must. Both my guest and I are a fan of olives and have never had it smoked before. These were done in house and served in a mason jar of olive oil with lemon peel, rosemary, and chilli. You couldn’t miss the smokey flavour with its flavour peppery notes. We both have never had an olive so tasty. If you don’t finish your serving, you can just cap the jar and take the rest home. Not to mention, the oil is worth saving as well.

I also suggest doubling down on your olives through one of their classic martinis. A stiff drink with gin, dry vermouth, and one of their hickory smoked olives; sans the pit. The smoked olive transforms this cocktail, it helped in adding body to the drink and to cut into it with its sharp tang. I also recommend ordering extra olives, if you aren’t already ordering a jar. Every sip is best following a whole green olive.

Reading the menu, their “Spicy coconut kale” pizza really stood out for me. I thought about trying their pasta dish, their house risotto or even a salad; but kept coming back to this unique assembly on thin crust. Coconut cream, kale, peanut satay marinated mushrooms, fior di latte, coconut flakes, and chilli oil. The satay flavour was pronounced and delicious, bold peanut with a dull heat. The mushroom gave you some chewy substance, meaty for a fungi. And the kale ate like chips, offering some crunch; along with the crispy, slightly sweet coconut shards. This pizza had me eating my greens and craving for more soon after I left. I would definitely come back for more of this and to try their other pizzas.

I enjoyed their Italian – Neapolitan pizza with its thin base and plentiful crust. There is a lot of the latter, but utilizing the smoked olive oil above, you had a great drizzle to dip the excess bread into. Each pie is personal sized, with four large slices. For its size one might consider the $19-22 price point a little steep, but the quality and well thought out combinations are well worth the tag.

And lastly we had their feature pizza, the one I was here to try for the challenge. Made with saffron leek, bacon, chilli pepper, and dill. Yet again you could taste the quality of all the ingredients assembled together. The heat from the pepper, the saltiness of the bacon, the freshness of the leeks, and the dill as the wild card that brought it all together. It varied from bite to bite, keeping your interest from start to finish. You could and wanted to eat the whole thing. I found the amount of toppings just right, allowing you to taste the breading, whereas my guest wanted a little more toppings.

 

To learn more about the Vancouver Foodster Pizza Challenge, visit the link. And then try all the competitors to vote for your favourite to win the people’s choice award.

Pizza Challenge

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Not available by the slice, their pizza makes a great option for dinner. Bring a friend down and enjoy a pie or two with drinks and olives. I myself, will be sure to bring my picky partner back to try their margherita pizza for only $11. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PIZZA CARANO
4241 Fraser Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 4G1
604-877-1270
pizzacarano.com

AJ’s Brooklyn Pizza Joint, #pizzachallengeyvr

This year I had the honour of being one of three judges to taste and critique pizzas, in order to find the best of the all; on behalf of Vancouver Foodster.

Nine unique pizzas, starting with “AJ’s Brooklyn Pizza Joint”. This is a true blue New York pizza place, with the owner hailing from Brooklyn. He has since planted roots in Vancouver, and has carved out this bit of his hometown on East Broadway. In these walls plastered with black and white historic photos, and hung with home team tees with matching caps; you can order slices to go, and full pies that you can customize.

We grabbed one of their cherry red booths at the front and plopped down to a couple of beers. Mine, one of their house lagers from “Parallel 49”, and my guest a “Main Street” sour IPA. They were the perfect sip to follow all our salty and greasy pizzas. Salty and greasy in only the best of ways.

Today we would be trying their “Detroit style pizza”. A first for me, and possibly a first for the city. There is no other place that I can think of that offers pizza as thick and doughy as this. It looks like a deep, deep dish; a cross between this Sicilian style crust, and Chicago with the baked and slightly burnt cheese that coats it. It comes in two flavours, split between 8 rectangular pieces topped with their house made ground tomato sauce, (a sauce that is applied after the pizza is cooked), fine sea salt, dried oregano, mozzarella cheese, white cheddar cheese, granted Pecorino Romano cheese, and garlic oil.

One was zesty, with enough pepperoni cups to cover the entire surface; the other, a take on a margherita pizza with roasted rainbow tomatoes and fresh basil. I preferred the latter for its mild flavour and the ability to make out their tasty sauce. I am not a fan of pepperoni to begin with, so to have so much here overwhelmed me. This pizza launched with the start of the friendly competition, and will be available regularly going forward. Just ask for the “Detroit Red Top” when ordering.

Not that you need any more flavour for the above, but the bottle of “Mike’s Hot Honey,” infused with chillies, at each table is well worth trying. It is sweet and spicy, paring well if our pizza above and the meat balls below. Not to mention, they would be just as good with many more food and drinks outside of this pizzeria. This Brooklyn product is available for sale here by the bottle.

We also made sure to try their meatballs. There were new to the menu and available as is or on various pizzas, along with other toppings. Seeing as we had plenty of pizza to go through, we simply had the meatballs as a trio. These were the smoothest meatballs I have ever had. They were meaty, yet fluffy and airy like cake. Such a unique texture paired with their delicious sauce. The fresh marinara is what sets their balls apart. To them we added fresh arugula and baked mozzarella for $1 and $2 more.

To learn more about the Vancouver Foodster Pizza Challenge, visit the link and then try all the competitors and vote for your favourite!

http://vancouverfoodster.com/pizza-challenge/

 

AJ’s BROOKLYN PIZZA JOINT
325 East Broadway​​​​​​​​​​, Vancouver BC, V5T 1W5​
604-428-5805
ajsbrooklynpizzajoint.com

Cocktail and pizza making class at Rocky Mountain Flatbread

Getting crafty, cocktail and pizza making parties where you learn to create your own seasonal cocktails and the perfect pizza pie!

“Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co.” continues to give you reasons to return. More than just healthy meal solutions, they also host children’s pizza making parties. And for all those parents and caretakers that attend, but can’t fully participate, it is now your turn to be able to make your own pizza. And to celebrate this child-free activity, the night also comes with cocktails that you too can make yourself. What a great way to try something new and maybe learn something new in the process. Not to mention you get to enjoy the cocktails as you make your pizza, and then have it right out of the oven for dinner.

For $50 per person (plus taxes and gratuity) each party includes the following:

  • Party Nibbles – Locally Marinated Olives + Cheesy Flatbread & Dip.
  • Cocktail Making – Your cocktail host will guide you through how to craft 2 seasonal cocktails.
  • Pizza Making – Your pizza making host will guide you through rolling out your dough, spreading our house made organic tomato sauce, shrinking scrumptious Canadian cheeses & adding your favourite gourmet toppings.
  • To Finish – Platters of warm double chocolate brownies served with house made vanilla ice cream.

As the first run of this newly conceived event our rendition varied a little from the outline above.

Our party gathered at the Main Street location, spread across a long table. Here, we enjoyed a couple of appetizers to get our appetite going, and to give the stragglers time to arrive.

When fully assembled our gathering of 8 was split into two groups and our night began with the cocktail making portion. We tried our hand at two of their signature sips, getting a step by step lesson from one their restaurant’s bartenders. Most of us, like myself, unfamiliar with proper tools and technique, got the benefit of a crash course.

I liked the “Earl grey gin” cocktail the most with the use of their own house made tea mixture. It was like a ice tea, but spiked. Refreshing and easy to drink, and great with most plates.

The “Triple berry mojito” was muddled mint, black berries purée and rum. Another refreshing cocktail that paired well with all the fresh ingredients of our pizzas to come.

And as we double fisted our tasty cocktails creations we began the pizza making portion of our night. Everyone got their own round of dough to flatten and roll out over flour with a rolling pin. Majority of us formed traditional 10 inch flat circles; whereas I got a little creative, shaping my flat bread pizza into a heart.

From here our pizza making coach came around with sauce and topping options. We were advised to not go over four toppings or else we wouldn’t be able to taste the crust past the layers. Here, I would have loved to have all the ingredient options before me, to pick and choose what I wanted as a pleased. This, instead of having my options come around and what I wanted rationed out by the handful.

First, comes the sauce, our choice was between pesto or tomato. We were given the option to do both, and majority of us took the opportunity to do half-half.

Next came the first layer of cheese, a handful each to spread evenly over our pizza in the making.

Next came the cooked meat toppings like chicken, ham, bacon, pepperoni, and sausage; to name a few.

After, fruit and vegetable options like mushrooms, onion (sautéed and raw), grilled tomatoes, red peppers, mango, olive/, spinach and kale; to name a few.

Then a second round of cheeses of the soft variety.

A few of us did go over the four ingredient maximum, but every flat bread pizza turned out just as delicious as the next. Especially as each diner made theirs to their preference and if they didn’t like the combinations, they only had themselves to blame.

Then off into their specialty oven they go. This part is with help from the “Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co.” staff.

And as we waited for our dinner to bake up, we made a mocktail featuring ginger beer, which also served as a great aperitif.

Each pizza was then plated, sliced, and placed before the diner. As a finishing touch you had the opportunity to topped your oven baked pizza with some dry cheeses like goat and Parmesan, and leafy greens like arugula and basil.

Then we ate and continued to drink, enjoying the meal before us and the experience behind us. But our pizza and cocktail making class did not end until dessert was served. Their popular double chocolate brownie with house made vanilla ice cream was the perfect way to cap off the night.

What a fun new way to enjoy an interactive dinner. Where else can eat the spoils of your learned knowledge? Adult pizza parties with cocktail component only at “Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co.”.

 

ROCKY MOUNTAIN FLATBREAD CO.
4186 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 3P7
604-566-9779
rockymountainflatbread.ca

Sing Sing Beer Bar

Looking for an easy dinner on Main Street we found ourselves drawn in by the bright lights letting us know we could “drink beer here”. Their front window is as direct: the restaurant’s name on a neon beer bottle label, hovering over a sea of crushed up beer cans. And their sandwich board chimes in letting you know that you can also enjoy pho and pizza within.

The restaurant is brand new, crisp with new floor boards and tables that match in light birch, spacious with vaulted ceilings showcasing exposed wood beams. The room is set up like a beer hall with cafeteria tables, bar tops, and televised sporting matches. Although with the noise level you really can’t enjoy the latter. This is one of those places where you need to read lips to understand, and yell to talk. Plus you have to be in the bar area to get a decent view of any screen. Beer cans line the top of the actual bar. While you wait for a table, you can order here from all the options listed on papers, held in place with magnets, on back lit panels.

Seating is first come first serve, although there is a hostess by the door to greet you. She suggested grabbing a beer by the bar first and standing with it until a table cleared. Once you see a party start to leave and you dash over to claim their seat for yourself. I don’t like this style of self seating, because you end up hovering and rushing the party out before they are ready. Then you sit before the table has been cleaned.

Our meal began with us pushing left over food particles to the side with a folded menu. And there it sat until eventually, a waitress came by and pushed the rest of it on to the floor with a dirty rag. However, most of it landed on the bench next to my guest and the clothing she had over it. There aren’t any hooks for bags or jackets and it is either sit on it, have it over you, or beside you.

We were able to grab the corner of one of the large share tables and were given enough breathing room to sit and enjoy our meal without being shoulder to shoulder with the patrons next to us.

To start I ordered their signature cocktail, which is basically a spiked Vietnamese coffee. The “Sing sing ca phe” is available hot or chilled, I went with the former given the weather this evening. Bows and arrows coffee, suntory toki Japanese whiskey, sweetened condensed milk, fee brothers black walnut bitters, and cocoa nib syrup. It was as strong as I expected, but I would have liked it with more condense milk and for some of that listed chocolate flavouring to come through.

For food we tried both their pho and their pizza. The “Pho ga sing sing” smells like pho, but isn’t like any rice noodle dish with hot broth that I have ever had, and given the ingredient list it is probably the same for you too. Roast chicken, basil, sprouts, and quail eggs. The flavour went together, yet contradicted. The broth was light, yet heavy with an almost sour and tangy taste. It finished clean, yet was rich. It was a little too salty, but also packed full of varying flavours. But all together it was almost flat on its own, it need something else in between bites, another element, maybe more chicken slices and/or quail eggs to change the flavour and keep your interest. Even the traditional squeeze bottle of brown sauce would have helped. Overall this was was different and I enjoyed it, but it doesn’t need repeating. However, I would like quail eggs in any of my noodle soups in the future.

For pizza we went with the “Carne piccante” with brisket, bacon, and pepperoni. It is as cheesy as it smelled. Plenty of Parmesan to pair with the loaded sesame seed crust. The crust was a nice nod to their Vietnamese theme, paired with the meaty brisket chunks seasoned fully in familiar Vietnamese flavours. I know don’t if I like the price given how little pizza we got, but it at least tasted elevated. Meaty with a crunchy crust. Although at the end of the day, pizza for me is best chewy and doughy with more for less.

As for the service, we saw a rotation of servers walk by us, but we didn’t get the full service that you would from a restaurant that you didn’t have to seat yourself. Our server didn’t bring us water, nor did she offer any, and it was too hard to track someone down to ask for some in the end. Especially with a loud dining area, packed tight tables with narrow pathways in between each, and the set up of communal cutlery and menus that live on the table as permanent fixtures.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This place is different. Vietnamese restaurant, Beer hall, and pizza parlour all rolled into one. Giving diners who love all three the ability to have all three at once. They also serve as a safe space for those unfamiliar with Vietnamese flavours and pho; giving them the ability to taste and try, with plenty of beer to wash anything they don’t like down. A cool place to visit with a large group, but not advised for date night or a catch up session if you are planning to talk to one another. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SING SING
2718 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5T 3E8
604-336-9556
singsingbeerbar.com

Page 1 of 7

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén