Walking through Gastown yesterday, I took another look inside the Nicli Antica Pizzeria construction site and found it effectively complete. The staff were training on the POS and they’d lit a fire in the oven. All seemed set, even the tables (complete with silverware, candles and linen napkins). “Come back later and we’ll make you a pizza” said the owner, Bill McCaig. I’d been looking forward to trying Nicli since we broke the news last April that they’d be bringing authentic Neapolitan pizza to Vancouver, so after picking up my kids from school we ran back down, thrilled to have the chance to be the first Vancouverites to give it a shot (my boys know pizza). I even took along a camera, as you can see from the video above and the shots below.
It was the best pizza I’d ever had in Vancouver, which was exactly what I was expecting it to be. To most pizza nuts, that’s not saying much, as it’s the first local pizzeria (to my knowledge) that has actually tried to mimic Naples’ finest contribution to society since the six string guitar. The thin crust was slightly springy, eminently foldable and blistering around the edges. The peeled plum tomato sauce glistened with olive oil and tasted true. The torn globs of mozzarella had lost their firmness and the basil was fresh and decoratively arranged. The hardwood that they’re using in the Acunto oven is birch, and the temperature is so high that all my pie needed was a 60-70 second blast treatment. When it came out it exhaled zephyrs of smoke.
In short, it was a perfect margherita. It’s definitely on par with those sold at Prima Strada in Victoria and Pizzeria Libretto in Toronto, and better than the pies I remember at Terroni. To put that in a more local perspective, it makes Marcello’s look like Dominos. Take a look at the video of my pizza being made and try not to eat your computer monitor…
They are doing a dry run for friends and family over the weekend and then easing into their opening next week.