The pairing of pizza and wine was one I have never seen advertised before, but it made sense. Both go well with one another, each with their full bodied flavour. And both can be enjoyed in either a casual or more formal setting. The latter was what we would be entertaining tonight. The restaurant was a larger space with wood floors and concrete walls, casual with an attempt at formality. Romantic with dim lighting and red bulbs, the bluesy sounds of a trumpet performing to jazz stilled the room, and the clang of knife and fork cutting into slices of pizza on a plate echoed from table to table.
The room smelled of pizza sauce, fresh marinara and zesty herbs. From the open kitchen you could see their process. Chefs in white cloaks and black caps stood in a line. The only thing separating them was a jagged piece of decorative glass and the cherry red glow of heat lamps. The obstructive light matched well the red tiles of the pizza oven, that anchored the kitchen.
I made mention that we were here for a birthday party, and the hostess was kind enough to offer what she thought was a “nicer” table, one by the window. Not soon after I was seated did our server arrive. I was here early and she suggested a smooth wine to sip as I waited for the others. I took her suggestion gladly. This followed attentive check-ins to ensure my wait was comfortable and that the wine she suggested was being enjoyed. It was.
The main menu included a fresh sheet add on. It advertised their participation in the “Best Pizza Challenge” between March 5-28. The list not only included a speck pizza (speck is smoked prosciutto) but polenta fries, antipasti, risotto, and a pasta option. They clearly offered more than just pizza. We made sure to try two dishes from this limited time release.
The “Polenta fries” were made with parmigiano reggiano and came with a spicy marinara sauce for dipping. The fries were crumbly, a natural property of polenta. But more so with the gritty but crispy breading that crusted each stick. Its flavour was light, bordering on plain. Although the dipping sauce was available for some additional flavour, seasoning the actual fries could have helped. The marinara would have been better served warm, you didn’t get any of the promised spicy heat, yet couldn’t escape its after taste. This was disappointing, it didn’t taste as good as it looked. Unsatisfying.
“Pizza Con Burrrata E Speck” with San marzano tomato, DOP speck, allepo pepper, baby heirloom pomodori, vincotto pearls, and basil oil. All their Neapolitan pizzas are made with centuries old techniques. They import ingredients and age the dough for 48 hours, to allow it to develop its own rich flavours. Each pie is shaped by hand and topped with quality ingredients. It is then cooked in a wood burning oven at 900 degrees. This effort and authenticity came through within my first bite. This was an amazing pizza from its one of a kind presentation to its equally unique taste. It was too heavy to eat with hands, loaded with too many ingredients a fork and knife were the best tools for the job. It was creamy with cheese, with just enough salt from the thinly sliced speck, and spicy from the chilli peppers hidden throughout.
For those wanting more spice, a shaker of chilli flakes and a jar of chilli oil were available to add some kick. It gave each dish another layer of flavour, and not just blinding heat.
The mushroom pizza was listed as a “Novo favourite”. It was made with truffled mushrooms, fontina, and chives. Naturally the earthy flavour of mushroom was most prominent note. Second to it was the light scent of the truffle oil. Together they sang in harmony, nothing was over powering. The thin crust was my favourite part.
“Spaghetti aglio e olio” with garlic, olive oil, and chilli flakes. The grilled shrimp was incredibly fragrant, you could smell its sweetness and taste the char as soon as the plate landed. The sauce was herbaceous, light, yet still creamy. A simple blend made with really good olive oil, and you could tell.
“Toasted hazelnut creme brûlée” made with frangelico ganache, served with rosemary and pine nut cookies, and a blood orange granita. My friend swore by this and it did not disappoint. Frangelico is hazelnut flavoured liquor. Its use along side the creamy burlee tasted like a high end Nutella mix, creamier and more velvety that any pudding I have ever had. I was hooked. The herb filled cookies were baked crisp to crumbs. They severed as a completely different flavour to run along side the rich custard. In opposition the grapefruit granita added a burst of citrus zest. Served chilled, it was bursting with sweetness and just a bit of tang. Refreshing like a slurpee or slush. Together this was a dessert to remember and one worth going back to relive.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This isn’t necessary a place I would think to visit for a romantic occasion, but rather for a meal between coworkers or a dinner with friends. A good pizza and pasta at a reasonable price. And all pizzas are not made equal, “Novo” is a good reminder of that. I enjoyed everything we had and would certainly plan a trip back in order to try more. Don’t deny your cravings.