DINER | The Top 10 Pizzerias In Vancouver #4: Victoria Drive’s Charming “Via Tevere”

December 1, 2013 

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Neapolitan brothers Dom and Frank grew up in East Van with the dream of one day opening a pizzeria – yada yada yada. The story of Via Tevere will charm the hell out of pretty much anyone, because it’s real and true and awesome, but the stars of the show here aren’t the people, it’s the gorgeous centrepiece wood-burning oven and the VPN-certified authentic pizzas that it produces.

The pies here kick ass as much as the little mustard yellow Fiat that’s perennially parked out front. Baked at 900 degrees for a little over a minute (never more than 90 seconds), they toe the line of perfection with beautiful crust blisters and a dreamy San Marzano sauce, arriving uncut at the table so as to maintain the integrity and temperature of the centre.

Faves include the prosciutto with fresh arugula and the Napoletana with tomatoes, fior di latte cheese, anchovies, and fresh basil. Bonus: superb, almost always celebratory atmosphere.

1190 Victoria Drive | Vancouver, BC | 604-336-1803 | www.viateverepizzeria.com

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GOODS: East Van Ghost Sign On The Side Of “Via Tevere” Restored By Local Artists

Via Tevere is located at 1190 Victoria Drive in Vancouver, British Columbia | 604.336.1803 | www.viateverepizzeria.com

Via Tevere is located at 1190 Victoria Drive in Vancouver, British Columbia | 604.336.1803 | www.viateverepizzeria.com

The GOODS from Via Tevere

Vancouver, BC | The efforts of a pizzeria, a heritage group and a team of artists have restored a unique, 80-year-old painted advertisement on the side of a former grocery store in Vancouver’s Grandview neighbourhood.

In 2011, new owners began renovations at an old building located at 1190 Victoria Drive. While attempting to convert the lower commercial floor into what is now Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana, they removed an old layer of stucco, exposing a sign advertising Shelly’s Bakery, a company from a lifetime ago.

Once very common on commercial buildings, painted advertisements have become extremely rare, usually falling victim to weather, repainting or demolition. Within days, word spread throughout the neighbourhood, photos were taken and the sign was even spotlighted on the evening news by Mike McCardel. The owners, contemplating on what to do with the sign, were approached by the Grandview Heritage Group. The owners agreed that the sign was an important piece of Vancouver history and elected to save it. The sign was framed off while the balance of the building received a makeover.

Despite attempts by the owners to preserve it, the old sign deteriorated quickly, and by spring 2013 was in desperate need of restoration, having become almost illegible. A plan was made to restore the sign, the goal of which was to keep it looking old rather than repaint it like a new sign, however restoration could only be done with financial support. Once the plan was made, the owners of Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana, along with the Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grants program, came forward with the support required. Shortly thereafter, artists Michael Kluckner, Victoria Oginski and Penny Street used the dry springtime weather to subtly repaint the mural, using techniques that Oginski developed in a career of mural painting and film and theatre work. The painting added just enough new colour on top of the old, weathered design to bring it back to life. The sign was then sealed with a final clear coat of epoxy to ensure the paint was protected from both the elements and vandalism for another generation.

William Curtis Shelly did a lot more with his career than simply run his namesake bakery, which was a huge operation for its day, with hundreds of employees and branches in New Westminster and North Vancouver as well as the head office at the northwest corner of 10th and Ash. He also built the first highway and ski chalet on Grouse Mountain in the 1920s, chaired the Park Board and was provincial minister of finance from 1928-32. The house in Shaughnessy at 1563 Matthews, where he lived for the final two decades of his life before his death in 1951, is now the American consulate.

How old is the sign? Based on surviving photographs of Shelly’s 4X advertisements that date from about 1940, the sign’s design is at least as old as 1935. Whether it was touched up later seems unlikely as the company updated its typography and the “happy baker” image in 1939. The sign was probably more or less forgotten during the Second World War years and then covered with stucco when the store was modernized, maybe about 1950. The Shelly’s 4X brand itself disappeared from store shelves in the 1950s.

The current location of Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana is the old Victoria Drive Confectionery, built in 1922 and most recently the home of Doctor Vigari studios, now situated on Commercial Drive. The renovation and design of the interior and exterior space reflect the history of the building, the surrounding neighbourhood and the owners’ Neapolitan heritage. Read more

WELCOME: East Van Pizzeria “Via Tevere” Has Joined The Growing Scout Community

We’ve invited East Van’s delicious Via Tevere to join our GOODS section as a fine restaurant addition to the neighbourhood. They are now proud members of Scout, and as such we will be posting their news in addition to hosting a page for them on our awesome, curated list of independent goodnesses. We’d like to take this chance to thank them for their support, and for making Vancouver a better place for pizza.

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ALL THE LOCAL “GOODS”

Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana

DETAILS

1190 Victoria Drive, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5L 4G5
Telephone: 604.336.1803
Web: www.viateverepizzeria.com | Twitter | Facebook
Owners: Domenic Morra & Frank Morra

GALLERY

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About Via Tevere

It began in a small palazzo on Via Tevere—a street in the heart of Naples where our father and his four sisters were raised. Throughout childhood and to this day, we have spent countless summers on Via Tevere, where we quickly learned about the importance of food in the Neapolitan way of life. Of the utmost significance is the iconic pizza, which has become the symbol of Naples.

Pizza Napoletana is lauded for its rustic simplicity, its traditional wood-fire cooking method and its celebration of Neapolitan ingredients. Our goal is to honour our family heritage and the tradition of pizza-making by serving up la vera pizza Napoletana—the true Neapolitan pizza.

Via Tevere is a family business, opened by two Italian brothers, with Neapolitan roots, who grew up in East Vancouver. It has always been Dom and Frank’s passion to open a restaurant that pays homage to their favourite Neapolitan food. Their father grew up in Naples and the family still owns an apartment on Via Tevere where one aunt still lives and they still visit as often as possible. The majority of their dad’s other family (sisters, nieces and nephews) all still live in Naples.

Dom and Frank’s goal was to open a restaurant that was true to Neapolitan pizza. Frank went to California to study the art of Neapolitan pizza making and was certified under the Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN) association. They imported a high quality woodfire oven that was hand crafted in Naples that uses only hardwood (as per VPN standards). You can definitely taste the difference between a pizza cooked in a woodfire oven and that which was cooked in a gas fired copycat. It has a smoky flavour that adds depth to the pizza.

True Neapolitan pizzas are made with double zero flour, San Marzano tomatoes from the Campania region, and fior di latte (milky fresh mozzarella). In Naples (as well as according to VPN guidelines), basil is placed on top of the pizza prior to cooking. The dough must be hand stretched with no added mechanical support (no rolling pin or stretcher) and must be cooked in a woodfire oven.

True Neapolitan pizza will have minimal toppings for a balance of flavour, the originals being the Margherita and the Marinara. Our ingredients and toppings are typical of a classic Neapolitan pizzeria.

The pizzas will come to the table uncut to preserve the toppings and in keeping with VPN standards. Customers can choose to eat it any way they desire, but Neapolitans generally cut it into quarters and then fold the quarter in half, thus keeping all of the sauce and toppings within. The crust is expected to be slightly chewy and slightly soft in the centre.

VPN certification ensures and protects the authenticity and traditional cooking method of Neapolitan pizza. Certified pizzerias need to go through the application process in addition to an inspection process to ensure authenticity. This is done by ensuring the pizzeria has the proper equipment (dough mixer, Carrera Marble prep top, woodfire oven), as well as proper dough- making, stretching, topping and cooking techniques.

Most of the locals in the area already know about the history of the building, but Dom and Frank also wanted to capture this tradition, and the tradition of their family, within the restaurant as well. Their goal was to create a warm, rustic space that people felt comfortable sitting in and a place where it felt more like a family gathering than an upscale restaurant.

Accolades

Voted as one of top three pizzerias in the Westender Best of the city Dining 2012

Listed as one of Vancouver’s Best Cheap Eats in Vancouver Magazine

August 22, 2012 – Richard Wolak (Vanfoodster) considers the salsiccia and rapini pizza from Via Tevere to be one of the top 10 dishes to eat before the summer ends!

August 19, 2012 Miss Foodie came in and said that Via Tevere is “as close to the real deal Neapolitan experience as one could get here short of going to Naples“

August 16, 2012 – Amy of Greedy Guts says she will “ definitely be making a return trip to Via Tevere.“

August 13, 2012 – Grace of GraceCheung604 loves the “little pockets” of “charred goodness of the crust“

June 13, 2012 – Shinyandbright thinks the margherita con salame is a “winner of a pizza”

June 1, 2012 – Anya Levykh of EatMagazine says, “You can’t ask for more “vera” than this“

June 1, 2012 – Rebecca Philps considers Via Tevere one of “Vancouver’s Best Cheap Eats” for 2012 in Vancouver Magazine

May 20, 2012 – Raul of hummingbird604 considers Via Tevere “one of the best” pizzerias he has tried recently and says the pizza was “delightful and filling“

May 16, 2012 – Mia Stainsby, restaurant critic for the Vancouver Sun says, “Via Tevere pizzas are addictive“

May 4, 2012 – Alexandra Gill, restaurant critic for the Globe and Mail calls Via Tevere a “rustic pizzeria with warm shabby-chic décor” that “exudes old-world charm and mouth-watering aromas“

April 30, 2012 – Sherman of Sherman’s Food Adventures came by and said, “Via Tevere was well worth the wait not only for the pizza, but for the great service and vibe as well”.

April 5, 2012 – Vanfoodster thinks the crust “was perfect from the texture to the appearance, both on the bottom and top”

March 24, 2012 – Fmed of Wisemonkeysblog says Via Tevere pizzas are “true to the Neapolitan form”