After visiting the brand new Nicli Antica Pizzeria on Wednesday night I feel very happy to report that I have finally tasted the closest equivalent to the Platonic ideal of pizza that I believe I’ll ever have the good fortune to eat. I have to admit, pizza has never been one of my most-yearned for meals and I have always felt more ambivalent than excited when I know that it will be eaten in the near-future but, simply put: this is really, really delicious pizza and a game changer as far as any now imminent pizza cravings are concerned.
The restaurant, located in Gastown on E. Cordova St., impressed me immediately with its extremely friendly staff and consistently prompt service. Our server continued to arrive at our table at just the right moment and was very knowledgeable about the items on the menu and was also able to address any concerns about food preparation that we had. The menu features a small selection of appetizers and salads to begin your meal in addition to an extensive list of traditional wood-fired pizzas suited for both vegetarians and the more carnivorous.
I began my dinner with the Insalata Mista, a salad composed of mixed greens, a surprise whole head of roasted garlic, marinated roasted tomatoes, and a red wine vinaigrette. I did enjoy this salad, but I found the vinaigrette slightly bland, as if the oil to vinegar ratio was slightly too far in the oil’s favour. However, the superbly acidic tomatoes and the buttery smooth garlic were perfect foils to this small complaint and the salad was devoured entirely. I will add that the composition of the salad was very pretty and almost reminiscent of a sea shell in the manner that it had been placed carefully inside a large curving leaf of eggplant purple radicchio.
I felt that to match the emphasis on traditional preparation at Nicli Antica Pizzeria I would order a traditional pizza – the Margherita. Now, I want to immediately congratulate everyone and anyone who was involved with the creation of this pizza crust. The pizzas are baked for 90 seconds in a 905 degree wood-fired oven which produces an absolutely stunning textural contrast between the slightly-doughy and chewy inside and the crisp, attractively charred exterior. The pizza was topped with an authentic Pomodoro sauce, fior de latte, parmigiano, and basil. The fresh mozzarella was simultaneously oozy, elastic, and comfortingly mild; in other words perfection for a pizza topping. The tomato sauce also tasted distinctly fresh and in fact, I would venture to say that overall freshness of the ingredients were the common denominator that helped to make the pizza outstanding from any others that I have eaten throughout my lifetime.
It is always a pleasure to be greeted with sincere friendliness and welcome when you walk through the front doors of a restaurant on a cold evening in February. Such attention to customer care puts me at ease immediately and almost always sets the tone for the rest of the dining experience. Likewise, it is an absolute pleasure when the food matches the first impression. Luckily for my dining partner and I it was an extremely pleasurable meal from beginning to end.