Pizza & More Pizza @ Novo Pizzeria

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.

For starters, we had the burrata cheese plate ($13) with arugula, oven dried tomatoes, and olive oil. After hearing our host rave about how the burrata cheese was amazing, we finally got a taste. As Novo Pizzeria owner Carmine Paradiso explained, the cows milk cheese is made from fresh mozzarella curds plunged into salted water, and then kneaded and pulled.  The burrata had a very light taste to it and was super creamy.  The bread I had with the cheese was unfortunately a little on the burnt side.

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.

For drinks, many of the ladies ordered the lavender limone ($9) with gin, lavender-vanilla syrup, lime, amaro montenegro, orange bitters.  I'm definitely the least experienced drinker out of the group (I'm a kid, really.), but I thought it was good.  The lavender taste was very subtle and the culinary lavender made the drink a bit prettier.

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. 

Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get a taste of the diavallo pizza ($16) hot capicola, onions, chili flakes because it was at the far end of the table... and someone had three slices! I think Vanfoodies mentioned this was a bit spicy.

The mushroom pizza ($17) with truffled mushrooms, fontina was the most flavourful of them all.  The strong taste of truffle oil reminded me of the 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.

The prosciutto and arugula pizza ($18) with prosciutto, arugula, reggiano, fiore di latte was alright.  Since the crust was so thin, the prosciutto was still quite salty.

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)!

Novo Pizzeria and Wine Bar
2118 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 736-2220
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I remember you said you schedule your posts for M/W/F. But don't you eat out way more than 3 times a week? Lol so how can you possibly stay on track? Wouldn't you get more and more behind?

@krispy: Yep, getting more and more and more behind. Actually I'm not that far behind, just finishing up my December ones. There's quite a bit for December what with all the lack of school/work.

Hey Janice, thanks for writing such a long review about Novo. Hopefully you had a good time with the others and enjoyed the whole Italian Feast experience. Next time I'll make sure I'll sit with you so we can actually catch up and chat

@Vincent: No worries, thank you for inviting me! There was so much food, it's hard to remember all the details. I tried to write what I could!

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