If there was one secret to great food, it’s passion. When someone really cares about the food they are serving, it shines through.
This was my first time trying Neapolitan pizza. It’s a thin crust pizza cooked in an old-fashioned wood burning stove that heats up to almost 600 Celsius, for 60 to 90 seconds. This is done to produce a crust that is crispy on the outside yet still moist and chewy.
“Simplicity is beautiful” rings true at Novo.
The restaurant has a comfortable lounge-like atmosphere to it. The look is modern/hip but not excessively so. Only minutes away from Downtown, it’s an appropriate hang out for yuppies.
The kitchen has an open design, which is a great way for them to show off the large stove in the back for those that are curious for a look.
Although I’m more of a pubs and dives type of fella, I’m not turned off by the look and feel of this place.
What went in
The feast began with two filled antipasto dishes. The bread took centre stage. It was thinly sliced, brushed with olive oil, and then grilled to perfection. Just look at how amazing it is!
The caramelized whole onions were sweet and “different” (the fig looking thing if you are wondering). The tapenade has a nice spicy kick to it, very tasty with the bread. We were also served some very special Burrata cheese. It’s an Italian cheese made with mozzarella and cream, giving it a very light flavour, with a rich and soft texture.
That was followed with a beet salad. Sweet, sweet beets topped with spring mix, roasted nuts, and feta cheese (I think, wasn’t able to taste any). It wasn’t anything extraordinary, but a nice combination of quality ingredients nonetheless.
Oh the meatballs… forgetaboutit. The meat is tender and moist; the richness is cut down nicely by the red currants mixed in and the marinara sauce; the pine nuts add a whole other dimension in terms of taste and texture. I could eat this all day long. Restaurants everywhere can learn a thing or two from these amazing meaty balls.
And it was time for the main show, the pizzas. We were served five different types that night. Let’s start from the one I liked the most to the one I enjoyed the least. Keep in mind, even the “worst” of the five wasn’t terrible by my usual standards, but someone has to come last.
Mushroom/Funghi – It’s hard to explain why I thought the ingredients came together so well, but it just did. I am a sucker for mushrooms, and there’s a nice variety of them on this pie. I also thought this was best seasoned of the bunch.
Margherita – I have no doubt that they nailed this dish. Named after the Queen Margherita of Italy, this is what started pizza as we know it. With only marinara, fresh basil, and mozzarella, it’s simple yet elegant. This pizza was how I had imagined what Neapolitan pizza tastes like. However it didn’t quite have the same “bite” as the Mushroom.
Diavallo – Made with hot capicola, onions, and chilli flakes, this was a spicy pizza. It wasn’t anything I can’t take, but the heat carried through and dominated the dish. The seasoning was spot on but it did require some heat tolerance.
Burrata – Remember the cheese I talked about earlier? One that’s rich in texture yet light in taste? Well they made a pizza with that. I enjoy things with a nice balance (like the meat balls). Richness should be balanced out with something else. As great as the cheese was, this pizza was way too light on the palate. It didn’t taste much like anything.
Prosciutto & Arugula – This was the only pizza that was left over at the end. So that should say a thing or two about it. I honestly didn’t get it. If you look at the picture, it looks like a random pile of stuff laid on dough. And it didn’t taste much more than that. The flavours didn’t merge, unlike the Mushroom.
The dough for all these pizzas was simply amazing. The owner was nice enough to give us a quick tour of the kitchen area and show off his oven. Once again, simplicity is beautiful. The dough is made with only flour, yeast, salt, and water. It’s placed inside the oven for a maximum of 90 seconds, turning only once to cook both sides. The result… you really have to taste for yourself. There’s nothing quite like it.
We also had a plate of Sausage Orecchiette. The owner was quite excited over one of the ingredients in the dish, fennel pollen, a very rare spice from California. It seemed sweeter and a bit stronger than fennel seed. I quite liked it, and wouldn’t mind getting my hands on some myself. The pasta itself was just a tad dry, maybe sat a bit too long before service.
And we weren’t even done… desserts! Thank you for making it this far, I’ll be brief. You should give the Panna Cotta and the the Nutella Calzone (yes it was as awesome as it sounds, and extra points for creativity) a try. The Tiramisu was average, could be spared.
What came out
This was a dinner by invitation. The prices hovered around mid to high 10’s for the mains. It’s not cheap by casual dining standards but then again I live in Surrey. For the area, the food, and the experience, it’s fair to say the least.
The staff was attentive and easy going. We were “special guests”, but I saw other customers being treated the same way.
I’ve mentioned this before: I really enjoy restaurants that give you an exotic dining experience. I walked away this day feeling like I’ve learned, and tasted, something new. And the fact that it was delicious was the cherry on top.
(Max Score: 10; Base Score: 5)
What went in (+/-2, 0) = 1.5
What came out (+/-1, 0) = 0
Service (+/-1, 0) = 1
Mr.’s Bonus (+/-1) = 1
Total Score – 8.5/10
2118 Burrard Street