On an invite, prolific blogger, Sherman of @shermansfoodadventures and myself took a cruise to Surrey’s Crescent Beach. Travelling for an authentic taste of Italy, by way of Natalino’s Pizza, and their traditional Roma style pizza.
If you didn’t know of the gem that was hidden within this Italian food court of sorts, you would simply drive on by. Their takeout window really doesn’t do them justice, as a destination for terrific pizza. Inside, they share the communal seating area with a coffee bar and ice cream shop that weren’t operating. So as the only ones dining in that day, we had the lay of the land. However, based on the walk through traffic, most of their business is definitely by way of take out anyways.
Before we dug into their pizzas, we were gifted the ability to taste the difference their quality ingredients made, by way of a charcuterie board of sorts. What sets Natalino’s apart is that their dough is done flatbread style, using sourdough. And although not straight forwardly gluten-free, it is fermented for 48-72 hours. Where this additional time helps to aid in easier digestion. A useful tidbit for those with a gluten intolerance; but don’t want it to be taken out on their love of pizza. Not only easy to digest, their naturally matured dough is also lighter and lower in fat, a healthy pizza crust that is still soft and chewy, if you can believe it. Said dough also contains more water, so that if/when it needs to be reheated, their pizzas don’t dry out.
All the ingredients they use is also fresh, nothing is canned, but jarred and preserved as needed. Majority of their toppings are either imported from the finest authentic Italian artisans or procured from local producers. The tomatoes are hand crushed, the pesto is made in house and specifically nut free, and the Parmigiano cheese is sourced from the Reggiano region of Italy.
Similarly, all the prosciutto they use is imported from Italy, made under strict quality controls.
And like in Rome, Natalino’s too serves their pizzas in rectangular sheets. But instead of slicing up pieces for individuals, calculated by weight; theirs is done in the one size out of necessity. Due to the need to have their pizzas fit in North American ovens, Natalino’s offers personal sized rectangular pizzas.
The following are all the pizzas we tried, in no specific order.
The Queen Margherita Pizza is a classic: authentic Italian tomato sauce, mozzarella, cherry tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. Tried and true this was my favourite pizza of the bunch. It was simple and clean, as properly told from the quality of ingredients featured above. The fragrant scent of the basil definitely came through on the taste for this one.
If you are going to order multiple pizzas (and I suggest that you do, as each is drastically different from one another), you want to try this one first to get an base idea of what they are about. This before you move your way through the more complex pizzas topping, with all their unique twists.
The King Pepperoni is Natalino’s elevation of the most famous pizza in North America. They do it with their scratch tomato sauce, Spanish chorizo salami, fresh mozzarella, lemon zest, and parsley. A little lemon goes a long way in this, it and the parsley do well to brighten up an otherwise heavier and greasier pizza (oily from the pepperoni). This pie is on the richer side, so like the other after it, you definitely won’t be able to finish a whole one your own.
No where near traditional, but my favourite pizza (in general), due to its salty and sweet combination is Hawaiian. And Natalino’s version ensures that there is a bit of sweet-and-sour in every bite. Tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, bacon, fresh pineapple, coconut flakes, green onions, and cilantro. This is a dressed up Hawaiian and more than just the basic pineapple and ham. They too have elevated this with the addition of green onion that adds a peppery freshness, the coconut that doesn’t add flavour but offers a varying texture. Overall I liked their grown up take on my childhood, and still favourite pizza toppings.
The Montanara is their signature pizza. It stands out with its truffle white sauce topped with mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, sausage, cherry tomatoes, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and basil.
You can make out the truffle in the sauce, but it wasn’t the initial flavour or even the star. Here, the truffle plays a great supporting role, best highlighting the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes, which helped to pull all the ingredients together with a good amount of tang and freshness.
The Santorini pizza promises you a trip to the Mediterranean with the likes of Feta Cheese, Kalamata Black Olives, Artichoke, Red Onions, Bell peppers, a dash of Oregano, Orange Zest, and a Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This was a mouthful and it ate like the meal it read like. It has all the classic Mediterranean flavours all wrapped into one dense and heavy pie. So many seasonings and spices battling one another, that once again we appreciated Natalino’s unexpected use citrus. Citrus, by way of the orange zest, in helping to highlight and wrangle its neighbouring flavours.
The Manila was a telling name. A pizza with both Asian and latin influences, much like the capital it was named after. Set to a spicy sauce and topped with mozzarella, pork belly, banana peppers, and cilantro. This one is for the meat lovers and the spice heroes. The pork belly was a little on the tougher side, but it kept its caramelized crunch. And despite the list of spicy ingredients, the pizza only had a dull heat that was easy to bear.
We also got to try their unique sourdough as the base to some Nutella spread with coconut flakes sprinkled over. This was interesting, but the processed chocolate spread did not do their dough justice. I would skip this dessert option and consider the one below instead, if you actually have room for it.
For dessert they offer a house made panna cotta. Don’t let the disposable container take away from the gourmet quality of this. You have your choose of strawberry, chocolate, or caramel sauce as topping. We choose the former most as the most refreshing of the syrups, to help end a heavier meal on the lighter side. Served in a container on the side, you can self regulate the amount you pour over, as the panna cotta isn’t sweet per say. It is an eggy cream that eats like fluffy air.
In closing, Natalino’s is good quality pizza that happens to be take out, but by no means would you consider it street food. Not to mention, the restaurant’s name sake and pizza chef from is from Rome, Italy. And he brings to Canada the authentic square Roman–style pizza, making Natalino’s the first and only Roman-style pizza parlour in British Columbia. This is good quality food, served by passionate people, worth driving out for and supporting. All in hopes that they one day they are able find a location in Vancouver, so that I can frequent them more often.
12211 Beecher St, Surrey, BC V4A 3A2