Ever since we started having lab meetings at noon, our PI started getting pizzas from Mercante so that the people wouldn’t have to sit through the meeting hungry. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any photos of the pizzas in the middle of the meeting since 1) the lighting was usually terrible and 2) I didn’t want my fellow colleagues to question why I was taking photos. Thus, I decided to head over to the joint myself to write my review. The spot specializes in wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, although they do also have some pastas and other desserts. I had their Tortellini and an Al Pesto Pizza.
Desserst and drinks
This was in a cream sauce and is topped with parmesan. The pasta itself was a tad overcooked for me and didn’t appear to have much filling, and was a bit bland on its own. I did quite enjoy the sauce, which was creamy albeit a tad bit underseasoned.
Al Pesto Pizza ($12.50):
Al Pesto Pizza
This was topped with pesto, prosciutto, cheese, artichokes, and tomatoes. The crust wasn’t very crispy, although it was thin and flavourful. There was a good amount of topping. The pesto was very flavourful, albeit a bit on the salty side; I really enjoyed the tomatoes, which provided a great tanginess. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of the artichokes.
Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of the pasta at Mercante, I really did enjoy their pizzas. The prices are quite reasonable. While this is not the best pizza joint that I’ve been to, but definitely a good choice if you’re on campus.
I’ve had pasta several times at different Italian restaurants. On every occasion, the waiter could come with parmesan, shave some over the dish and leave on their own. The staff I encountered at Tratorria was a bit different however. The aforementioned restaurant belongs to the Glowbal franchise and has a couple of locations in Metro Vancouver; I had the opportunity to visit their Kits location. Of course, being the cheap Asian I am, I visited on a Tuesday where they have all their pastas for just $13. Being the even cheaper Asian that I am, I ordered the most expensive pastas: Truffled Spaghetti & Signature Meatballs and Crab & Lobster Ravioli (even though I don’t really care for seafood, but it’s normally $25 so I’m saving more money). Once the dishes came out, one of the waiters came to bring me parmesan. I expected him to just shave the amount he thinks is acceptable and leave, but no, he just kept on shaving. And shaving. And shaving. My spaghetti was soon covered in a soft layer of parmesan, and I noticed the waiter glancing at me (while still shaving), and it finally dawned on me that he was waiting for me to tell him when to stop (I can be quite slow). I quickly told him to stop.
Truffled Spaghetti & Signature Meatballs ($24.95, $13 on Tuesdays):
Truffled Spaghetti & Signature Meatballs
This came with three good-sized meatballs and a dollop of truffle cream. The spaghetti itself was perfectly cooked to my personal liking, being tender while still retaining a good chew. The cream provided great richness and had a wonderful fragrance. The meatballs appear to be made from beef, and were quite tender and juicy; unfortunately, I did find them to be a tad underseasoned and bland.
Crab & Lobster Ravioli ($24.95, $13 on Tuesdays):
Crab & Lobster Ravioli
This came in a creamy tomato sauce. Again, the ravioli was cooked to my liking and contained a generous amount of filling, which was flavourful and very savoury (I’m not even a big seafood fan, and I still really enjoyed it). The sauce was also very flavourful and rich. The portion was a bit on the smaller side (the dish came with half a dozen in total); personally, I wouldn’t have paid for the full price.
I quite enjoyed the pastas at Trattorria. The prices were a bit on the higher side during regular days, but a great bargain during Tuesdays. The service was very good: the food comes out quite quickly, and the waiter I had was great (and didn’t seem to get mad at me for making him shave all that parmesan, or if he did, at least he didn’t show it). Definitely check this place out (and if you’re cheap like me, go on Tuesdays).
I’ve really grown a greater appreciation for cheese over the number of years that I’ve been living in Canada. One cheese that I’ve heard quite a bit about but never had the opportunity to sample is burrata. That finally changed during my recent visit to Bufala. They are a pizza joint located on Blvd in Kerrisdale, just a couple of blocks away from 41st Avenue. They specializes in thin-crust Neapolitan-style pizzas, and also serve classic Italian appetizers and drinks. While I initially wanted their Meatballs, I really wanted to sample the Burrata, and ended up ordering that instead. I also had their Carbonara Pizza.
This was served with roasted acorn squash and toasted sourdough. This is the first time that I’ve had burrata, so I don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like. The cheese was quite creamy, although a bit bland. The squash was tender and sweet; I do wish that they could have cut it into smaller pieces however as it was a bit hard to eat with the bread. I really enjoyed the bread, which was nicely toasted.
Carbonara Pizza ($19):
This came topped with pecorino, pancetta, and an egg. The crust was nice and crispy, and not bland. Although there didn’t look like there was much topping, it was actually very flavourful. It wa a bit on the salty side: I actually quite enjoyed it, but I think that it might be a bit too much for others.
While the burrata at Bufala wasn’t mindblowing, I’m very glad to have been finally able to sample it. I also really enjoyed their pies, which are some of the better ones that I’ve had, although I do think that some people might find the toppings to be a bit too salty. Service-wise, the food was prepared relatively quickly and the staff are friendly, but not overly attentive. All in all, I do consider this to be one of the better pizza joints that I’ve tried, and I’d recommend visiting if you like Neapolitan-style pies.
A long time ago, when I was still in highschool, I went to Martinis for one of my friends’ birthdays. I had their Veal Parmesan on that occasion, and was completely taken aback when the dish ended up getting the better of me (I couldn’t finish it and I had an even bigger appetite then than I do now). Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one: all of my friends had trouble finishing their dishes, one of whom apparently got full on a calamari appetizer that we all shared and a side salad.
I decided to revisit this place recently. In spite of all the years that passed, the menu appears to have remained the same, consisting of a large selection of Italian/Greek/Mediterranean dishes and pizzas. They also have a menu of lunch specials. While I was tempted to reorder the Veal Parmesan to see whether I could conquer it this time, I was tempted by their lunch specials, and ended up ordering their Breaded Veal Cutlets. I also had their Chicken Tortellini Alfredo after hearing good reviews about the dish from other reviewers. The dishes were served with a side of daily soup and salad respectively; these dishes came out right away while the main dishes themselves took a bit longer (probably 20+ minutes) to arrive.
Chicken Tortellini Alfredo ($17):
Chicken Tortellini Alfredo
This consisted of spinach & cheese tortellini with chicken breast and red peppers, and is served with salad and garlic bread. The chicken was pretty tender for white meat and well seasoned, while the tortellini was well-cooked, being tender while still retaining some chew. I did find it to be a bit bland however, and the sauce, while creamy, was also a bit underseasoned for my taste. The salad was quite fresh and contained pieces of pineapple. I absolutely loved their garlic bread: they give you a thick slide that’s nicely toasted and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.
Lunch Breaded Veal Cutlets ($10.75):
Lunch Breaded Veal Cutlets
Daily soup (some kind of curry vegetable)
This was served with your choice of fries or salad (I had fries), and a daily soup. The portion for this was very impressive for the price: they give you two generous slices of veal. The meat itself had a nice crispy coating, although I did find it to be a tad underseasoned and slightly chewy/grisly in some parts. The fries were hot, fresh and crispy. The soup I had was some kind of curry vegetable with rice.
Although I wasn’t able to get revenge on the Veal Parmesan, I’m glad to have gotten their Lunch Breaded Veal Cutlets: the dish was quite tasty, and I thought that it was a great deal for the price and portion. I did find the main dishes to take a bit long to arrive, and the server I had, while attentive, was not the friendliest. In spite of the shortcomings however, I did really enjoy, I did still really enjoy my visit to Martinis, and would highly recommend checking it out.
My latest new obsession is gnocchi. Ever since having tried it at Basil Pasta Bar, I’ve seriously developed a love for this dish and will order it whenever its available on a menu. Thus, after seeing pictures of the Gnocchi Ai Quattro Formaggi from Marcello Pizzeria, a dish consisting of the aforementioned pasta baked in a four-cheese sauce, I knew that I had to check the place out. The restaurant is one of a number of casual Italian joints located on The Drive. They have a nice space inside, including an open kitchen where you can see their chefs making Neopolitan-style pizza. Since the latter appears to be their specialty (not to mention that I love pizza), I decided to also get a Medium Ai Due Formaggi Pizza in addition to the aforementioned Gnocchi Ai Quattro Formaggi.
Medium Ai Due Formaggi Pizza ($14.95):
Ai Due Formaggi Pizza
This contained tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, salame, baking cheese, and mushrooms. The texture of the crust was quite good, and was very crispy. There was a good amount of toppings at the centre, which were very flavourful. I particularly enjoyed the large blobs of cheese, which although messy to eat, was very rich and flavourful. The edges were less enjoyable however: I found the crust to be completely bland, as if they did not use any salt or other seasoning.
Gnocchi Ai Quattro Formaggi ($16.95):
Gnocchi Ai Quattro Formaggi
This contains gnocchi that is baked in a four-cheese sauce. The cheese sauce was very rich and creamy, and had a wonderful pungent flavour (I think they probably had gorgonzola as one of the cheeses). The gnocchi itself had a nice tender texture, and is well-seasoned and tasty on its own. The dish is served piping hot, so be a bit careful when eating: I actually burned my mouth a bit during my first few bites.
I visited Marcello Pizza for their gnocchi, and I was not disappointed. Their pizza is also fairly good, although I did struggle a bit with their strangely bland crust. The service could be improved however; while the staff were quite welcoming, they were a bit disorganized. I noticed them getting confused/mixed up by orders, and I did have to wait for almost 30 minutes to get my pizza. All in all, this isn’t a bad restaurant, but not one that I’d necessarily return to either.
Summary: Food: 3.5/5 Price: 3.5/5 Service: 3/5 Overall: 3.5/5 Recommendations: Gnocchi Ai Quattro Formaggi
I’m both a pervert and quite immature. Thus, when I saw some mildly erotic paintings on the bathroom doors of a restaurant, I really could not resist but take a few photos….
Wish I looked like this
Wouldn’t mind taking this home with me
This is either a universal bathroom or…
If you’re wondering where you can find these paintings, they are at Pacifico Pizza & Restaurante. The latter is an Italian joint with two locations, one on Davie and the other on Smithe. I visited their Smithe location during lunchtime, where they served lunch specials that comes with a choice of a salad or soup. I got their 10″ The Gorgon Pizzetta and their Gnocchi Rosa. Unfortunately, they were out of soup during the day that I visited, so I ended up going with their two salads (Caesar and Giardino; yes, I actually ate salads – two in fact).
10″ Specialty Pizzetta (The Gorgon, Caesar Salad, $15.95):
The pizzas that they serve at the Neapolitan wood-fired variety. I could really taste the gorgonzola, which had a nice strong pungent flavour (in a good way) as well as tanginess and richness. The salami also provided a great saltiness and spice, while the mushrooms had a great fragrance. The pizza crust was also very good, and was quite crispy, and nice and cruncy around the edges. The accompanying Caesar salad was standard, but fresh, and came in a fairly large bowl.
Gnocchi Rosa (Giardino Salad, $13.95):
The gnocchi was soft and slightly chewy, and had a nice savoury flavour to them. They were covered in a tangy, but creamy and flavourful tomato sauce. I was somewhat disappointed by the portion size however; it was quite small and more of a side dish for me than an actual meal. The Giardino salad was fresh, and came with a nice oily dressing.
Although I’m quite disappointed about being ‘forced’ to eat my arch nemesis (aka salad), I did quite enjoy the rest of their food. The prices that they have for their lunch specials are fairly reasonable (although I do find their pasta portions to be pretty small). The service seems to vary: the lady I got was a bit stiff and inattentive, but some of the other servers appear to be more friendly. All in all, I’d recommend checking this restaurant out for their erotic bathroom art tasty Italian food.
Summary: Food: 4/5 Price: 4/5 Service: 3.5/5 Overall: 4/5 Recommendations: The Gorgon Pizza, Gnocchi Rosa
My recent visit to Renzo’s Cafe was a bit of a bust (something that I should be used to by now): they did not have any of the gorgeous cakes that I’ve seen in the past and I had to resort to getting a goddamn gluten free vanilla cake (although to be honest, that didn’t taste too bad). During my visit to the place, I happened to pass by another cafe called Toscani Coffee Bar and decided to check the place out. They have a pretty good selection of various casual bites, including a few cakes. I got a White Chocolate Raspberry Biscotti, Tiramisu, and Limoncello Cake.
Food in the display case
Cakes and biscotti
Limoncello Cake and Tiramisu
White Chocolate Raspberry Biscotti ($3.50):
The cookie seemed to be a bit old, and had a slightly stale flavour and was not as crispy as I would have liked. It was still fairly tasty however, and had a nice fragrance, as well as a good flavour from the white chocolate icing. Strangely, I did not get any raspberry flavour however, even though I could clearly see a layer of it.
I love tiramisu, and this version did not disappoint. The cake was just light and soft, while the layers of cream/mousse were absolutely luscious. It had a great fragrance of coffee, and a wonderful balance between bitter and sweet. This may not traditional in that there were no ladyfingers, but it is delicious nonetheless.
Limoncello Cake ($5):
The cake was soft and light, and had a great tang from the layer of limoncello jelly. I enjoyed the white chocolate, which lent a nice fragrance and went well with the citrus. It did seem to be a bit old however, and tasted slightly stale.
I’m glad to have checked out Toscani Coffee Bar. The treats were all fairly enjoyable, although I did find some of the fare to be a bit old/stale. While this isn’t a place that I’d revisit, it is worth checking out if you happen to be near the area.
I love pizza in all its forms. I love thicker Greek-style pizza, and I love thinner, New York-style Pizza. I have never, however, tried neapolitan-style wood fire pizza before. This style of pizza appears to have gained quite some popularity over the past number of years, and there are quite a few places in Vancouver offering this variety. To sample my first neapolitan-style pizza, I decided to check out Sopra Sotto, a (relatively) newly opened Italian restaruant on The Drive. During my visit, I got their Porchetta E Friarelli Pizza, as well as Maccheroni Al Forno.
Porchetta E Friarelli Pizza ($18):
Pizza Slice (Bottom)
This came topped with porchetta, rabe, and mozzarella cheese. This was the first time that I’ve had Neapolitan-style pizza, so I’m certainly not an expert on the dish. I will have to admit, however, that I was a tad disappointed in the pizza. I found the crust to be a bit soggy, although the edges were quite crispy and light. More importantly however, I did find it to be a little bland. The porchetta is the standout of the dish: it was tender, juicy and well-seasoned, and was what made the pizza enjoyable.
Maccheroni Al Forno + Crispy Speck ($17 + $3):
Maccheroni Al Forno + Crispy Speck
Maccheroni Al Forno + Crispy Speck
The macaroni was al dente and just a tad too hard for my personal taste, although I think that it’s still fairly reasonable. I did like the thick creamy sauce and cheeses in the dish, as well as the mushrooms, which provided a nice flavour. Unfortunately though, the dish was just completely underseasoned to me, and was bland. Even with the addition of the speck, I found it to be too bland to be enjoyable. The portion was also very small, more like a side dish than a main.
My experience at Sopra Sotto was both good and bad. I was a bit underwhelmed by their food, which was underseasoned and bland; moreover, I found their pasta portion to be quite small and not worth the price. Their porchetta was very tasty however. More importantly though, I was very impressed by their service. I had a wonderful server (I think his name was Sean) who was incredibly friendly and welcoming, and was incredibly attentive in spite of attending to several tables. All in all, while I do think that the food can do with some improvement, the service has really left a great impression on me. I really hope that this place sticks around.
Summary: Food: 3/5 Price: 2.5/5 Service: 4.5/5 Overall: 3.5/5 Recommendations: Porchetta (they have an appetizer, a pizza, and apparently a sandwich during lunch time).
On most occasions when I visit a place, I order what appeals the most to me. There are some places however that have items so popular that I feel I’d be remiss not to try it. Case in point, during my visit to Italia Bakery, I felt that I had to get one of their Sicilian Cannolis, which was probably what they were best known for. They have a number of different flavours; I went with their hazelnut. I also got their Tiramisu, Caramel Sea Salt Puff, Fruit Cheese Cake, Diplomat Slice and Tre Gusti cake.
Cakes and Pastries
Sicilian Cannoli, Hazelnut ($4.99):
Sicilian Cannoli (Hazelnut)
Sicilian Cannoli (Hazelnut)
This was a fresh-made crispy shell filled with nutella-flavoured cream and coated with toasted almonds, as well as some icing sugar. The bottom shell had gone a bit soggy from the filling, but the top part was still crispy, although I did find it to be pretty bland. While it was creamy and did have a hazelnut flavour, I did find it to be quite bland, and a tad bit artificial-tasting (I don’t think they have any real hazelnuts in this, it was all just flavouring). This just wasn’t really my cup of tea.
Tiramisu Slice ($3.50):
This consisted of layers of cake sandwiching coffee-flavoured mousse/cream. The cake was extremely light and lucious, with a great fragrance of coffee and a perfect bittersweet flavour. While I do wish that it could have been soaked in syrup/liquor – I like my tiramisu to be borderline soggy – this was still very moist and absolutely delicious.
Caramel Sea Salt Puff ($3.50):
Caramel Sea Salt Puff
Caramel Sea Salt Puff
This was filled with custard and topped with a chocolate glaze as well as a drizzle of caramel and sea salt. The pastry was quite soft, flaky, and melted in my mouth while the custard was smooth, creamy and mildly sweet. The chocolate did not taste waxy, the caramel was thick and gooey, while the sea salt lent a nice contrast to the sweetness. This is definitely one of the better macarons that I’ve had.
2″ Fruit Cheese Cake ($3.50):
2″ Fruit Cheese Cake
2″ Fruit Cheese Cake
This came topped with seasonal fruit; I got blueberries on mine, which were fresh and glazed. This was a N.Y. Style Cheesecake, and was dense and creamy, with a great balance of sweetness and tang. The shortbread crust was also tender, although I did find it to be a tad dry. This was a simple, straightforward dessert that was done well.
Diplomat Slice ($3.50):
This consisted of two layers of puff pastry sandwiching custard, cream and sponge cake. The puff pastry has, of course, gotten quite soggy and was a little gummy. The custard, cream and cake however, were tasty and luscious.
Tre Gusti Slice ($3.50):
Tre Gusti Slice
Tre Gusti Slice
This consisted of vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut custards sandwiched in between sponge cake, and was topped with whipped cream and toasted almonds. The cake was soft, and although it was slightly dry, that was offset by the layers of custard. While the custards were tasty: luscious, smooth, and mildly sweet, I could not distinguish between the three types of flavours. I did really enjoy the almonds though, which were fresh and crunchy.
Although Italia Bakery are probably best known for their cannolis, I actually did not care for them at all. On the other hand, I did really enjoy their cream puffs and cakes. Their prices are also fairly reasonable, and the staff I encountered were quite friendly. All in all, I really enjoyed my visit; this is a great place to get some tasty Italian desserts.
They say a picture’s worth 1000 words. So here’s a picture:
In case you can’t tell what this is, it’s a slice of Mac and Cheese pizza. Yes, they have finally done it. They have combined two great dishes together to make something so incredible that I seriously cannot find the words to describe the feeling of ecstasy that coursed through me when I caught sight of this monstrosity. And by “they” I’m referring to Nat’s New York Pizzeria. They are a casual pizza/Italian joint with two locations in Vancouver. I’ve passed by their Broadway/Kits location a number of times (their other location is in Denman), and decided to finally check them out this week. While they are probably best known for their New York-style thin crust pizza, which they sell in large individual slices in addition to whole pies, I’ve heard great things about their sandwiches (heros), so I got an X Large Veal Cutlet Parmesan Hero on my first visit.
Pies by the slice
More pies by the slice
Veal Cutlet Parmesan Hero (X Large, $12.95):
Veal Cutlet Parmesan Hero (X Large)
The sandwich had a pretty generous amount of filling, which consisted of breaded veal, tomato sauce, mozzarella, as well as onions and peppers. It was a very messy sandwich; I used an embarassing amount of napkins while scarfing this down. The bread was quite soft and light. There was a good amount of veal present, which was tender and well-seasoned. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of tomato sauce and I didn’t really care too much for the one in this sandwich; it was quite thin and dripping everywhere. I do also wish that there was more cheese present; most of the mozzarella appears to be present on the edges and I seriously could not detect any parmesan. I had the X Large size (which I think is the same size as the large, except with more filling), and while I didn’t have much trouble finishing it all in one sitting, it was quite a large sandwich and very filling (and probably enough for two meals for someone with a smaller appetite).
Of course, I can’t review this place without trying their pies, so I returned the next day to get a few slices of their pizza. Now, having visited the day before and seen the available flavours, I had already planned on which varieties to get. That plan quickly went out of the window however when I saw the Mac and Cheese-topped pizza sitting in the display case, just beckoning to me. I had no choice. I just HAD to ge a slice of that. I also picked up a slice of their N.Y. Deli and BBQ Chicken. They warm the slices up for you in their oven, so you get them fresh and hot.
N.Y. Deli Pizza ($3.75):
This came topped with capicollo, ham, pepperoni and salami. I quite liked the crust on this pizza was thin and very crispy. There was a good amount of meat, which was nice and salty, as well as gooey cheese. It was a bit greasy, but I didn’t mind; I like greasy, fattening food. Maybe it’s just because I don’t have a good palate, but I honestly couldn’t distinguish between the different meats; they all tasted like pepperoni to me.
BBQ Chicken Pizza ($3.75):
This consisted of ranch, olive oil, sweet onion, bell pepper and Nat’s BBQ sauce (as well as, of course, chicken). Again, the crust was nice and crispy. The chicken was a bit dry but still tender. I quite liked the BBQ sauce, which was sweet with a nice smokey flavour.
Mac and Cheese Pizza (around $5.75):
Mac and Cheese Pizza
The only pizza you eat with a fork
Snack for later
This is the pièce de résistance. I don’t know if this is a special/limited-edition flavour; I haven’t seen the flavour being offered on their website and it wasn’t present when I visited the shop the day before. The piece came topped with a thick layer of mac and cheese, as well as tomato sauce and bits of ground beef. I did find the mac and cheese to be a bit bland and the pasta was overcooked and too soft. It was still quite tasty however, and very fun to eat (I had to use a fork on this). While the price of around $6 is a bit steep, the slice is absolutely massive (probably 2x bigger than their already large regular slices), and is probably enough to feed a person with a normal appetite. Now, even though I had already scarfed down the aforementioned N.Y. Deli and BBQ Chicken pizza, I could have still finished the Mac and Cheese. However, just because I COULD didn’t mean that I SHOULD, and since I did already get a bit of a stomach ache from devouring an entire X Large hero the day before, I decided not to take my chances, and ended up taking half of the pizza to-go to enjoy as a “snack” for later.
The Mac and Cheese pizza at Nat’s New York Pizzeria has been worth the visit alone. It may not be the greatest thing that I’ve ever eaten, but seriously, how often do you get to eat a mac and cheese pizza? The rest of the food is also quite good, and the prices are fairly reasonable if you factor in their larger portions. Overall, be sure to check this out if you enjoy pizza or other greasy but tasty Italian-American fast-food.
Summary: Food: 3.5/5 Price: 3.5/5 Service: N/A Overall: 3.5/5 Recommendations: Hero, Pizza (BBQ Chicken, Mac and Cheese if it’s available)