I have been following the tread about the paucity, or lack of, good pizzerias in Vancouver. Well, during my lifetime the same could be said about Victoria. Pizza here has been of the doughy-crust-with-heaps-of-gooey-toppings variety. Until now.
Last weekend I was walking through the Cook St. Village when I spotted an attractive wood-panelled building housing Pizza Primastrada, among other businesses. Curiosity peaked, I stopped to look at the menu and immediately became excited by what I read. They claimed to make authentic, Neapolitan pizza in a wood-burning oven.
I knew I could not hold out for too long, so last night my wife and I and a friend of ours lined up for 20-30 minutes for a table at said pizzeria. It was worth the wait.
Pizzas here features simple toppings, with no more than 3 or 4 toppings on any given pizza. Eg. Marinara has tomato, garlic, and oregano. Napoletana has tomato, garlic, oregano, and anchovies.
The pizza is cooked in a wood-burning oven; we saw a stack of cherry next to the entrance. The website claims the pizzas are cooked at 850 degrees F. The website also informs me that they use the 00 flour that has been spoken of in the Vancouver pizza thread; fresh mozzarella (although not housemade), and the "world's finest tomatoes."
The crust is thin, has a good char and is blistered. It is not crispy but rather wonderfully chewy. I have had pizza in Naples and it had a slightly different texture. It was of a similar thickness and chewiness but had a bit more of a crispy exterior. I also had a slightly better crust earlier this year at a place called Humble Pie in Phoenix, but I must say that the crust at Pizza Primastrada was very good and certainly leagues better than any other pizza I have tried in Victoria.
We tried two pizzas: the Funghi, which boasts porcini cream, roasted mushrooms, roasted onions, thyme, mozzarella, and pecorino cheese; and the Salsiccia Piccante, which was topped with fennel sausage, tomatoes, mozzarella, and roasted bell peppers. Both were very flavourful and the toppings were laid on with appropriate restraint.
The Funghi had intense mushroom flavour; the piccante was moderately spicy, but I was very impressed with the fennel sausage the restaurant used.
We had two appetizers: melanzanna and tonna, which was a flatbread with tuna/eggplant antipasto; and insalata fresca, which was a combination of fresh fennel, mint, orange, and red onion. Both appetizers tasted very fresh; the salad had very crisp, clean flavours and was nicely presented.
Two pizzas, two appetizers, and a bottle of wine came to $77 ($90 with tip), which I thought was very reasonable.
I look forward to going back to Pizzeria Primastrada and trying the rest of their pies. For those Vancouverites hankering for real pizza, you may consider crossing the pond to size up the pies at this joint. While not the best pizza I have ever had, it is certainly miles above anything else I have tried on the West Coast.
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