Remembering the Gastown Restaurant That Elevated Vancouver’s Pizza Game

The ever-evolving Restaurant Graveyard series looks back at the countless, long-shuttered establishments that helped to propel Vancouver’s food and drink forward. Full A-Z with maps and photos here. May they never be forgotten!

Located at 62 East Cordova St. on the eastern edge of Gastown and launched in the winter of 2011 by first-timer Bill McCaig, Nicli was BC’s first ever pizzeria to be certified by Italy’s ‘Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana’, meaning it followed the rules governing the preparation of authentic Neapolitan pizza to the letter (ie. using a wood-burning oven, “00” Caputo flour, San Marzano tomatoes, proper mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, etc.). The results were game-changing, the basic pies being celebrated as pimply-crusted revelations of bright and true flavours. Even if Vancouver diners were unused to cutting their own pizzas with special scissors, the undeniable deliciousness of the product accelerated a trend toward pizza authenticity that would be followed by several other restaurants and appreciated by a dining public more accustomed to the American fast food style. The brick-walled space was arguably too cavernous for a simple, 40-seat pizzeria concept, but it was popular enough to last for nearly a decade. McCaig even opened a second location on the North Shore (which he has since sold). The pandemic ultimately proved too much for the original operation, with the shutdowns and general deterioration of the neighbourhood making reopening a non-starter.

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