The latest food group to be featured in our ‘best of’ series is pizza.
Much like burgers and tacos before it, pizza is an almost universally appealing fare — albeit one that is slightly more segmented than the aforementioned other two food groups. There’s Neapolitan, Chicago, New York, Sicilian, Californian — the list goes on.
“There are many influences on pizza however, two main are: Napoletana Style — where the authentic pizza was born. A certification from Naples stipulates the exact ingredients to use in dough and toppings, stipulates the form of the pizza and the time cooked in the wood-fire oven, producing a certified soft, elastic, floppy base with delicious authentic, fragrant ingredients — and American Style — each big city of America created their own style of pizza with the influence of Italian immigrants many years ago,” Marco Cresciullo, of Pizzeria Spacca Napoli in Port Moody, explains. “Brooklyn style is my guilty pleasure.”
So, rather than crown one eatery as the champion of the latest vote, due to the fact that we were unable to segment the voting into individual pizza sub-categories, we decided to ask Cresciullo, as well as Dom Morra, a co-owner of one of the many reader favourite pizzerias, Via Tevere on Victoria Drive, to dish on what makes pizza so delectable, in general.
(Full disclosure: Via Tevere and Spacca Napoli were joined by Supreme Pizza on Victoria Drive and Pizzeria Farina on Main Street in jockeying for the top spot.)
“It’s a simple and perfect balance of dough, cheese and tomato sauce,” Morra explains of the universally appealing qualities of a good pie. “It’s quick and delicious when made with the right ingredients. It appeals to people of all ages.”
According to Cresciullo, a good pizza also comes from the heart.
“The passion to make it,” he explains. “Whether it’s the passion behind using the freshest and most authentic ingredients, or the skills behind the dough and the oven it’s cooked in, or the company it’s made with, the pizza will taste delicious.”
At both Via Tevere and Spacca Napoli, the teams cook up traditional Neapolitan pizza, which, to be considered truly authentic, has to follow the strict guidelines of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.
“Soft chewy crust, great tomatoes and Fior di latte with a variety of toppings,” Morra explains of the eatery’s specialty eats. “The pizza is cooked in a 900-degree, wood-fire oven to give it a slight char.”
While delicious Neopolitan-style pizzas have been proving very popular in recent years, the pizza category, in all its forms, has been a hot food group for many years.
“I think pizza in general is a trend right now,” Cresciullo says. “The fast-food industry and the growth of pizzerias are vast, with many different styles.”
But, according to Morra, the Naples-originated pizza style is more a way of life than it is about following a specific food trend.
“Some restaurants follow trends, putting new or unique toppings,” he says. “We like to stick to classic flavours that you would find in Naples and southern Italy. The flavours of our childhood summers in Naples and the way we like to eat our pizza.”
Perhaps it’s this simplicity that makes the most popular pizzas at Via Tevere, also the most uncomplicated.
“You can’t go wrong with a beautiful Margherita. But, if you need a little something extra, then the prosciutto and arugula is a popular choice,” Morra says of the two most popular pies. “The prosciutto adds a nice saltiness yet it’s crisp and fresh with the arugula.”
True to his word, when we dined at the intimate eatery to see what all the buzz was about, there was a steady stream of the classic pizza concoctions landing on tables.
“We’re always looking for new ways to spin classic flavours but, in the end, we like to keep it simple and traditional.”
At Spacca Napoli, customers also enjoy the simple eats, but there’s a more complicated compilation of pizza ingredients that has also proved popular with diners.
“The Alla Facciazza was my pizza (that won) the Best Vancouver Pizza 2017 award,” Cresciullo says. “A decadent, delicious pizza topped with 18-month aged prosciutto, house-made arugula pesto, porcini mushrooms, truffle cream, roasted pistachios and shaved Parmesan.”
But, what it all bubbles down to (sorry, I had to use a slight pizza pun somewhere), the key to any great pizza, regardless of it’s style, comes down to two easy elements.
“Simplicity and quality ingredients,” Morra says of the essentials to a perfect pizza.
It’s as easy as that.
30 top pizza joints as recommended by our readers
When we asked our readers to submit their recommendations for the best pizza shops in Metro Vancouver via social media and email, there were a few one-off suggestions — but, more often than not, there were several standouts that got repeat votes.
Metro residents, it turns out, really love their pizza.
So, without preference of particular pie style, here are the top 30 pizza-providing restaurants in and around the city. And, if you didn’t take part in our vote, well, then you’re not allowed to complain about the results.
But, you’re welcome to add your recommendations in the comments below.
AJ’s Brooklyn Pizza Joint (325 E Broadway, Vancouver)
Andreas Restaurant (153 16th St. W, North Vancouver)
Big Daddy’s Pizza, BBQ & Poutine (22709 Lougheed Hwy, Maple Ridge)
Bucky’s West Coast Pizzeria (15562 24 Ave, Surrey)
Clover Ridge Pizza (5989 168 St., Surrey)
Corduroy Pie Company (758 W 16th Ave., Vancouver)
Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria (6011 Hastings St., Burnaby)
Don’t Argue! Pizzeria (3240 Main St., Vancouver)
Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria (various locations)
Ignite Pizzeria (2588 Main St., Vancouver)
Lombardo’s Pizzeria & Ristorante (1641 Commercial Dr., Vancouver)
Me-n-Ed’s Pizza Parlors (various locations)
Mission City Pizza (32818 7th Ave, Mission)
Nat’s New York Pizzeria (2684 W Broadway, Vancouver)
Neighbour’s Restaurant & Pizza House (6493 Victoria Dr., Vancouver)
Nicli Antica Pizzeria (62 E Cordova St., Vancouver)
Nightengale (1017 W Hastings St., Vancouver)
Ocean Park Pizza (various locations)
Papa’s Gourmet Pizza Ltd (3030 Main St., Vancouver)
Pizzeria Farina (915 Main St., Vancouver)
Regazzi Pizza Co. (2996 E 22nd Ave, Vancouver)
San Remo Restaurant (3008 Flint St., Port Coquitlam)
Spacca Napoli Pizzeria (2801 Saint Johns St., Port Moody)
Steveston Pizza Company (3400 Moncton St. #100, Richmond,)
Supreme Pizza (6539 Victoria Dr., Vancouver)
Tomato Shack Pizza (10322 Whalley Blvd, Surrey)
Vesuvio Pizzeria (1196 Lansdowne Dr. #106, Coquitlam)
Via Tevere (1190 Victoria Dr., Vancouver)
Virtuous Pie (583 Main St., Vancouver)
Vegan Pizza House (2119 Kingsway, Vancouver)
Pizza 101: A crash course in pizza types
If you’re over the age of, well, 10, odds are, you’ve eaten your fair share of pizza in your lifetime. (And, if you haven’t: what are you waiting for?)
With said eating experience, it’s likely led you to the realization that there are many different types of pizza — and you may like some more than others.
“I like a crust that’s been through a bit of hell, surviving a blazing hot oven, exiting a little dishevelled with leopard-y char marks, some bubbling and some crispness to the outside and a bit of air bubbles and chew inside,” Mia Stainsby, a food writer for The Vancouver Sun says. “I’m not a thin-crust girl and I find Neapolitan style is too soft in the middle.”
Not sure which one’s which when it comes to pizza types?
Here’s a crash course in the five main types of pies, as outlined by Stainsby, who has admittedly eaten hundreds of pizza slices in her lifetime, meaning she know what’s she’s talking about when it comes to pies.
“To be authentic, they have to be made under the strict guidelines of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana regarding type of flour, tomatoes, cheese as well as its thickness, how long it’s baked and at what temperature it’s baked in a wood fire oven. It’s thin and soft in the middle and should be folded to eat.”
“It’s a deep-dish pizza with the crust coming up the side of a rectangular pan, allowing for height when it comes to adding toppings like tomato sauce, cheese, ground beef or sausage and sliced vegetables. It’s a pizza pie more than any other.”
“Usually, it’s a thin-crust pizza cut into wedges to eat as street food. It’s like a Neapolitan-style without following all the rules and standards.”
“In Sicily, it would be called sfincione or ‘thick sponge,’ and the base, usually rectangular, is like focaccia. It’s traditionally topped with onions, chopped anchovies, tomatoes and herbs and perhaps sprinkled with a Provolone-like cheese. If the pan is oiled well, the bottom develops a nice crisp crust.”
“Think Wolfgang Puck. He was one of the Californians who took the thin-crust pizza and tossed out Italian traditions of what should go atop pizza and they went rogue with creative ideas. Toppings tended to be local, healthy and fresh.”