Back in May we published a short piece on Tofino’s Basic Goodness, a Neapolitan-style pizzeria slated for the new building at 551 Campbell Street (on the main drag between Shelter and Wolf In The Fog). As luck would have it this week, we were camping on the beach nearby just as owners Heather Heron and Marco de Conciliis were busily setting up for their first service. We gave them a shout and they kindly invited us down. Some background from our last story on the project:
Both Heather and Marco are recent arrivals to Tofino, having recently left the United States and long careers in fashion and design. Heather – a Canadian by birth with family history in Tofino – operated her own product and interior design firm in Los Angeles for 20 years, her work being featured in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Wallpaper and The New York Times. Marco – a graduate from The Pizza Italian Academy in Italy who trained under a master Pizzaiolo in his hometown of Naples – spent the last 30 years working internationally for Ford Models as the face of campaigns for Calvin Klein, Versace, Guess, and Armani.
Anyway, we popped in. Marco’s son (and very competent pizzaiolo) Leonardo had their wood-fired oven up to temperature and was kind enough to tease us with a Quattro Formaggi, a perfect Margherita, and a pie loaded down with prosciutto and arugula. Delicious stuff. As you can see in the photos, there’s consistent char-pimpling around the outer edges of the thin crust without over-inflation. What you can’t see, however, is the dough’s texture and chew. Both were exactly as they should be: light, smooth, foldable (for “libretto”) and quick to cave on the tooth. To my knowledge, Tofino has never had pizza this good or this proper. I wasn’t there when they finally opened their doors to the public last night, but I’m guessing there was happiness on all sides.
The space itself is a simple one with a great view of the water and Meares Island beyond — possibly the best view in the province for any restaurant that serves good pizza (with the exception of Miradoro in Oliver). It’s all of 1,066 sqft with 20+ bright yellow seats at six white tables over polished concrete floors, a short bar of four stools and a wraparound patio of communal benches and a few tables. The menu sees 8 traditional pizzas complemented by 2 salads and a single dessert: Marco’s tiramisu (which, I’m told, is the bee’s very knees). For drinks, they pull shots of espresso, pour from an all-Italian wine list, crack a few local beers (eg. Arrowsmith, Tofino, Four Winds) and keep a few local spirits on hand just in case. The greens they use are all from the island, as are the meats (from Picnic Charcuterie just down the street). Opening hours are noon until the dough runs out (closed Tuesdays). Take a look…
photos by Michelle Sproule