Recently, Vincent invited me to a tasting event at Novo Pizzeria with other bloggers and guests. Neapolitan pizzas seem to be popping up everywhere in Vancouver these days -- it's slated as one of the top 10 Vancouver food trends -- and I didn't even have a try yet! (Well actually I went to Verace a week after I RSVP'd this event, but that's for another post.) I decided to that I needed to give it a shot.
The other platter we had to start was the antipasta platter (not sure if this was large, $25 or small, $14). The prosciutto was pleasant though a bit too salty because I ran out of bread and I just ate a whole slice. (Don't judge.) I also tried a bit of the pickled onion (on the leftmost saucer) which was quite interesting -- sweet yet sour at the same time.
The golden beet salad ($13) was really interesting since I never tried a salad with hazelnuts -- it gave a nice crunch to the salad. The blackberry vinaigrette was very subtle and light. I wasn't a huge fan of the salad, but I needed my daily vegetables.
The highly anticipated Sicilian meat balls ($8) with currants, pine nuts, reggiano, and marinara finally came. Ronald raved about how these were the "most amazing meat balls" ever, but actually, I'm not a huge fan of meat balls or meat loaf. It was alright. The outside was a bit crisp due to browning but the inside was kind of mushy -- it kind of reminded me of bread crumbs that were moist. I thought the addition of pine nuts was interesting because I had never seen that before (though I rarely ever order meat balls anyway.) From now until January 31, 2012, you can mention this tweet at your meal for free meatballs.
Besides for pizza, Novo serves up a few pastas as well, including the sausage orecchiette ($16) swiss chard, fennel pollen, toasted bread crumbs. I don't know much about fennel pollen, but apparently it's really expensive locally, so Novo brings its fennel pollen up from California. Carmine showed us a jar and it was super tiny! I just checked online and it's about $19.95 for 1oz! Overall the pasta was good and had a really strong fennel taste to it. If you're a fan of that, you'll definitely like this.
From the beginning to the meal to now, I would say everything was alright. Not mind-blowingly amazing but good. Somehow, when we were ordering pizzas, we ended up ordering five. Although they are normally cut into six slices per pizza, they split them into eight, so we didn't have to fight over them. I haven't had American pizza in a long time, but I would say each one is about the same size as a small. (You be the judge from the picture above.)
All the pizzas are made with this wood-fired oven that Carmine showed us. The oven usually burns at 400+ °C so not a lot of time is required to cook the pizzas -- the shorter the time, the better. This leaves a thin and crisp outer crust and a soft and chewy interior. The dough is very simple and made from only caputo flour, water, and salt. I find that the shorter the ingredient list is, the harder it is to do well.
The burrata pizza ($18) was one of my favourites. It's very simple and doesn't have any tomato sauce on it -- just burrata, fiore di latte, olive oil, and basil. I think it really showcases the cheese and crust really well, and the olive oil was subtle yet fragrant.
wild mushroom benedict at Italian Kitchen although this, aroma-wise, was not as strong. Taste-wise though, as a lover of mushrooms, it was quite strong and delicious.
By the time I got to the margherita ($13), it was already cold and not delicious. I know, I know. I should've started out with this one, but it was so far away from me and I didn't want to be rude. I know lots of people use the margherita as the standard for checking if the pizzeria is good or not though. It didn't taste bad cold, but I feel like it would be much better if it were fresh.
We were lucky enough to have a few desserts to share! The first was the tiramisu which looked beautiful. Unfortunately, even the smooth whipped topping, I didn't like it because the lady fingers were over-drenched and soggy. They were quite crumbly as well, which I didn't like.
The vanilla bean panna cotta was my favourite dessert of the night. Not only does it look amazing, but it is so simple as well (like the pizza dough) -- made only with cream, milk, sugar, gelatin, and vanilla bean. It has a pudding-ish texture to it (think, mango pudding from Chinese restaurants), but it was creamy and smooth at the same time. The vanilla bean was very subtle, but I think it complimented it nicely.
The nutella calzone, which is made from a pizza crust filled with chocolate hazelnut spread and chopped hazelnuts, was not bad. Although I do enjoy Nutella once in a while, I thought it was a bit too much for my taste here -- great for those with a sweet tooth I guess. I absolutely loved the fresh whipped cream though, since I love whipped cream and it's not that often I get to have it fresh.
Overall, I like Novo -- it offers delicious pizzas which you can share. I do like these Neapolitan pizzas more so than the American ones just because the crust is so delicious (and less carbs)!
2118 Burrard Street