This is why I don’t often wait for food. A blog post of impatiences and the wait list.
When you want pizza and delivery just doesn’t cut it, we braved a cold Vancouver night for some thin crust. This pallor has long been on my list of restaurants to try, but my impatient nature and my unwillingness to wait has often had me glossing over this place as an option. However tonight we were hungry enough and it was late enough that we thought to take a gamble. We drove past and were disappointed to see guests waiting outside and a gathering of bodies right at the entrance. But really, what were we expecting on a Saturday night? So we added ourselves to this cue with a estimated 15 minute wait. A sign on the door warned that this was a residential area, asking that us diners were considerate of their neighbours.
So we left our names and we stood our ground, insisting on a table, even when the bar opened up. There were actually two bars, the more traditional one facing a shelf of wine and spirit bottles and an espresso machine. The one I am referring to was a couple of stools under a counter that faced their impressive pizza oven. A dome shaped oven tiled in a baby blue with white detailing. In this closed off island two men dressed in grey buttoned up shirts, covered in flour were crafting all the pizza. Rolling dough, hand tossing toppings, and feeding each round into the oven to bake up. We eventually got a table where we could see the pizzas enter and exit the oven on paddles and pans, get transferred on to plates, and the drizzled heavily with olive oil.
Though while waiting for this table, as I mentioned earlier, my partner passed on all bar seating as he preferred not to face the two guys making the pizzas as he dined. I on the other hand thought it the optimal seat for any two individuals. Not only did you get to sit side by side with one another, but essential dine with a show. I guess I had my blogger/foodie hat on tight and my partner just wanted a romantic date night. So both bars eventually were seated with other patrons willing to claim them.
So there we stood with the other guests deeming this the pizza to try. Doing so by a tower of flour bags snacked to the height of an average female. Squeezed in tight, inches from a wood barrel sawed in half and repurposed as a hostess booth. All it needed was a plane of glass to give it a flat surface to rest their wait list on.
During this tight loiter we were quelled with the offering of samples. We were treated to a snack of meatballs sitting in tomato sauce. They were crispy on the outside and dry on the inside. They needed the sauce, but we were in no position to double dip. The courtesy was much appreciated, as our wait extended 30 minutes, 15 over the 15 minutes we were quoted, but that was on us; with my partner’s refusal to be seated at any of their bars. So there we stood waiting and watching other tables like a hawk. Everyone seemed to be ordering individual pizzas for themselves, and many more left happy with individual, unbranded pizza boxes of leftovers. With every passing tick, I was sincerely hoping the wait for a table and pizza would be worth our time.
As I stood I was able to observe the scene that engulfed me. They sold tomatoes by the can and sauces in bottles to take home. On the walls were references and reminders of their Italian heritage, or nods to the fact the specialized in pizza. An distressed wooden sign that read “doctor vigari”, Italian pennants and flags, and paintings of tranquil landscapes and calming seasides that had me longing to visit. And then almost in contrast to room’s charming country-feel, when you looked up the brass and glass chandeliers suspended above the foyer and on top of the pizza counter, caught your eye.
A painting of clown-like mimes in white linens sharing a pepperoni and cheese pie seemed to be their mascots. As one such clown even made his way on to a cutlery label. Napkin wrapped utensils held together by a sticker with the restaurant’s name and logo. The same black masked clown in white holding a green paddle and red circle representing a pizza.
We eventually continued our wait at the bar, succumbing to the need to sit and the greater want to drink. I ordered a glass of sparkling wine before a table cleared and we hopped at the chance to be seated at it. Our final resting place was in close quarters to our neighbours and in a drafty area, but at this point we were just happy to be able to order and eat facing one another do to so.
Seeing plates of it walk before us we too had to try the “Frittura Napoletana”, a sampling of fried vegetarian Neapolitan street fare. There was the option to have the serving for one or two. We shared one of each: a fried miniature disc of pizza dough, a breaded and fried gooey risotto ball, a breaded and fried mashed potato and herb pill, and a breaded and fried Mac and cheese square. All served with a healthy portion of tomato sauce for dipping. The sauce tasted like a sweet marinara, but wasn’t really necessary as each element was plenty flavourful on its own. The crunchy pizza dough was indented and filled with Parmesan crumbs and fresh basil. It was like a mini marinara pizza with an additional scoop of side sauce. With the risotto ball you were able to make out the texture of each individual grain of rice. Together they had a light flavour in contrast to the sharp cheddar in the Mac and cheese. The mashed potato was as expected, crispy with a whipped smooth centre.
When the pizza arrived we barely had room for it and our previous appetizer platter. Given its size, good thing we got just the one pizza to share. “Prosciutto e Funghi with tomato, fior di latte, prosciutto, and mushrooms”. It was a fairly tasty pie, but I found it too salty from the ham and quite soggy from the oil. But the ham had a nice flavour to it, like bacon-lite. The earthy mushrooms came out quite distinct with its deeper notes. The crisp and slightly charred crust was the best part. I was actually quite surprised that it and the whole pizza was served unsliced, though I guess it saves the staff some much needed time and you are meant to eat it like a person sized pizza. You are also meant to eat it with knife and fork, though it was quite hard to saw through it with dull butter knife.
We finished our meal with their “Trio of desserts”, which basically included all three of their “dolci” options. A made to order cinnamon and sugar donut coated in melted Nutella, a slice of tiramisu, and a rich chocolate cake.
The “Graffe con Nutella” was a full doughnut ring. It was a handmade Neapolitan fritter made to order and dusted with sugar, cinnamon, and drizzled over with Nutella. We could tell this was made to order by how warm it was through and through. As expected it was little heavy, but the whipped cream from the other desserts helped to even this out. The doughnut itself was fluffy in the centre, hidden under a shell of crispy crust. The grounds of sugar and cinnamon lent their grainy texture along with their sweetness.
This was only half a serving of tiramisu, which is one of the most classic and iconic Italian desserts, it is made in house daily. It is layers of coffee drenched lady fingers sandwiched between clouds fluffy mascarpone cream. For taste, you got the full affect of caramel with your coffee and cream.
A half order of “Torta Caprese”. A gluten free dessert originated from the isle of Capri. This is a rich chocolate cake made with roasted almonds and walnuts, and flavoured with a hint of orange. I was skeptical because it was advertised as being flourless and therefore gluten free. I typically find such a cake dry and chalky. I was right. Though the density of the real chocolate did help to alleviate some of this. Would be good with coffee or tea because it wasn’t that sweet. And I really didn’t get the above mention of orange other than in the slice on the mound of whipped cream.
It just needed some spumone ice cream to complete this plate and give it some freshness.
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.
If I want to have this again, the only way would be to line up for it again. Though they do also have a roaming food truck they serve out of. As for the sedimentary restaurant, I could see why they were so popular. A cozy setting in a secluded area, serving food that was well priced for quality of product. I guess their location, a block off Commercial Drive was helpful helpful in keeping prices low. And who doesn’t love a good oven baked pizza? Don’t deny your cravings.