Gastown’s pioneering Nicli Antica Pizzeria – Vancouver’s first purveyor of Vera Pizza Napoletana-certified pies – is opening a second location, this time at 3142 Highland Blvd in North Vancouver’s Edgemont Village. If you aren’t familiar with the VPN distinction, East Van’s Via Tevere, Burnaby’s Cotto and Victoria’s Prima Strada are – to my knowledge – the only other VPN-certified pizzerias in the province, which is to say that they all meticulously follow the strict rules that govern the proper construction of Neapolitan-style pizzas. Domino’s, this ain’t!
Nicli owner Bill McCaig – now the BC Trustee for the VPN Association – secured the 2,000 sqft address about a week ago and invited me in for a look yesterday afternoon. I gotta say it was hard to imagine the tight-looking space as a restaurant because it’s carpeted and cluttered with drywalled-off offices. It’s all being removed, of course. The new building – some five years old – was built using a lot of reclaimed wood, especially (and artfully) in the high ceilings, so it will be interesting to see what the finished product will look like.
The full restaurant conversion will see a complete kitchen installation (including a wood-burning oven as per VPM specifications) and tables and chairs for 55-60 people. The plan is to have it ready for launch in March of 2018.
The new Nicli will have a slightly expanded menu than the one we’re used to at the Gastown original. In addition to all the excellent pizza we can expect to see a larger appetizer section, plus panzerotti, calzone and a daily pasta. They’ll also be doing take-out and delivery, which – I imagine – will be considerable cause for local rejoicing.
We’ll return for another peek during construction, but in the meantime have a look at the raw space and try to imagine the smell of the burning hardwood alongside the aromatic amalgam of “00” Caputo flour, San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil and fat, melting coins of DOP mozzarella cheese.