Pizza Prima Strada – Victoria, BC


Pizzeria Prima Strada
105 230 Cook Street
Victoria, BC
(250) 590-8595

I lamented about my city’s rather pathetic pizza scene here on Foodsophy recently and how I have to travel quite a distance to get a good slice. My quest for good pizza has taken me to Pizzeria Prima Strada in Victoria a three hour ferry trip away from Vancouver.

How I wish we had a place like this in Vancouver: a pizzeria that takes that extra step to make you a good pie.

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Prima Strada bakes their pies in an imported Italian wood-fired clay brick oven. Wood-fired ovens are slowly becoming extinct in urban areas due to fire and air quality concerns. City inspectors have instituted a virtual moratorium on their construction in Vancouver. (For example – Gastown’s Incendio, which burned down last year replaced their wood oven with a gas-fired model when they re-opened.)

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Prima Strada is striving for a true Neapolitan pizza – a style of pizza so glorified that it has been codified by the certification agency  Vera Pizza Napoletana.

According to the VPN, a “real” Pizza Napoletana calls for a hot (about 800F) wood-fired brick or clay oven, the use of San Marzano plum tomatoes, real fior di latte or buffula mozzarella cheese,  and fine-milled tipo 00 or 0 white high-gluten wheat flour. The dough has to be leavened with a sourdough starter or regular brewers’ yeast and it should be hand stretched without mechanical aids like rolling pins or sheeters.

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Prima Strada follows all the guidelines set by the VPN Association, but they seem to have chosen not to be certified. (There is an on-going debate regarding the value of VPN certification in the pizza world).

Prima Strada’s dough contains only water, flour, sourdough starter, and salt. A counter to the other locally-sourced ingredients, Prima Strada imports Caputo Tipo 00 flour from Italy to make their dough. (Ironically, the wheat used to make the flour could very well have come from Canada.) The dough is slowly risen in the cooler which enhances its workability and imparts a tart complexity to the flavour. The pizzaiolos that I have talked to have told me that the finely milled Tipo 00 is the ideal flour if you have a blazing hot oven.

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Prima Strada’s cheese is from Natural Pastures one of only a handful of organic buffallo mozzarella cheese makers in North America and one of only two in Canada. Natural Pastures gets their water buffalo milk Fairburn Farms (Cowichan Bay) which raises the only water buffalo herd in Canada.

The tomato sauce is very simple – it tastes only of tomatoes, olive oil and salt.  Their Funghi (my favourite here) uses a Porcini Cream sauce. Their salumi is house made or specially made for them by Choux Choux Charcuterie.

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The ovens at Prima Strada run at around 875F. The hearth floor is probably at around 750-800F. At these temperatures, the pizza cooks in less than two minutes. The resultant crust is egg-shell crispy on the outside and tender in the crumb. It is marked by a charred pattern called “leoparding” – small black spots where bubbles in the dough have been blackened by the heat.

The pies are a pleasure to eat – fragrant and addicting and definitely tasting of Naples.

Addendum (Dec 12)

I should expand a bit on the online reports of “sogginess” of this pizza. Anyone who has had real Napoletana pizza in Naples (eg at Da Michele, Ciro, Di Matteo, et al.) will tell you that the pizza there is actually “soggy” by our standards. This is part of the reason why the pizza there is eaten with a knife and fork. It is often folded first to contain the sauce. There is a misconception that a Napoletan pizza is thin and crispy overall…yes the crust is indeed thin and crispy in parts, but the center is always soft and “soggy.” So soft in fact, that you can roll it or fold it with ease. A common way of eating it there is folded into a portafolio - Italian for “wallet” or “briefcase”.

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17 thoughts on “Pizza Prima Strada – Victoria, BC

  1. The pies are in the $11-$16 range. The Funghi is $16, Margherita $14, Marinara is $11. Very reasonable for the quality.

  2. I had them one time I went over to visit family. They’re indeed very good. I also ordered the Funghi and found it to be the best of the 3 my group got.

    Unfortunately my family in Victoria prefer a more… crappy pizza :(. When they saw the pizza’s from prima strada, it was a complete disappointment for them. Before even taking 1 bite, my mom was furious. “So few ingredients! So small! So expensive!” *sigh*

    If they deliver and I offer to pay, MAYBE I can convince her to try it again.

    • Ouch! I feel for you Mike. There’s nothing wrong with liking other styles, but to be furious? That’s too bad they don’t appreciate it. If you ever need someone to share good pizza with you, im sure there are more than a few takers here at Foodosophy!

    • I too feel your pain. A Napoletana pizza cooks so quickly in the oven that the amount of topping needs to be sparse. Too much topping and your pizza ends up being raw and soupy on top.

      I have read the online reviews on this place and other than some service issues (which we haven’t experienced) – most of the comments were about the amount of toppings and “soggy” crust.

      I do caution you on delivery – I find that this style of pizza needs to be eaten immediately out of the oven. But if that is the only way your mom will have it again then so be it.

  3. GREAT looking Pizza.
    I drive to Edmonton once in a while and always stop at a Pizza joint there to get this authentic taste of Italy.

    It just frustrates me how we can agree on 14.00 for a Margherita being inexpensive, when you could buy a similar pie in Europe for 5.00 to 6.00 Euros.

    • Yes…discounting exchange rates, GOOD pizza in this country is very pricey.

      However, I should note that eating sushi in Europe is like eating at (the very expensive) Tojo’s everyday. I was once taken out to sushi in London and I am still suffering from sticker shock. I was also taken to the “best” Chinese restaurant in Stockholm where the food was sub-par by Vancouver standards and I too am still suffering from sticker shock many years later.

  4. I should expand a bit on the online reports of “sogginess” of this pizza. Anyone who has had real Napoletana pizza in Naples (eg at Da Michele, Ciro, Di Matteo, et al.) will tell you that the pizza there is actually “soggy” by our standards. This is part of the reason why the pizza there is eaten with a knife and fork. It is often folded first to contain the sauce. There is a misconception that a Napoletan pizza is thin and crispy overall…yes the crust is indeed thin and crispy in parts, but the center is always soft and “soggy.” I should perhaps add this to the main text.

    • Authentic Napoletana pizza is soggy, but this is one area im not sure staying true to authenticism is a good thing. I definitely prefer a crisp crust with underlying “chew”. Other than “we’ve always done it that way”, does anyone know what the rationale for the soggy crust is?

      • I think it is a multitude of factors:

        It has very thin crust at the center – so it doesn’t have much of a “sponge” to absorb excess moisture.

        The sauce style is generally “uncooked” and thus has more moisture.

        The cooking times are very quick – not enough time to drive off the moisture in the toppings.

        Here in North America, the more common Neapolitan-American hybrid style is probably more to your liking. I like that style too (more on that on a subsequent post).

  5. Soggy crust results from a lower than optimal oven floor temperature as well as non uniform temperature in the floor. The construction of the oven floor under the cooking surface also plays an important role. If the temperature of the cooking surface is suboptimal as often happens once the oven is fired and heated and then used for cooking, the temperature will slowly decline leaving more moisture in the dough.

    Of greater importance,I believe, is the construction of the oven floor beneath the cooking surface. This layer needs to have some degree of porosity as well as rigidity and to a lesser extent, some ability to retain heat. This layer together with the refractory clay of the cooking surface, functions as to wick moisture away from under the cooking pie crust. This is what allows the crust to cook quickly and evenly, delivering a nice crusty crust.

    Most wood fired ovens will have the cooking tile placed directly on a concrete subfloor, or worse will have those tiles bonded directly to the subfloor with a bonding agent such as mortar. This unfortunately impedes the wicking away of moisture from the cooking surface. Ideally a cooking surface subfloor will consist of a good layer of sand, alone, or with a further more rigid porous layer consisting of expanded clay/cement/vermiculite onto which the cooking surface tiles are placed without any mortar.

    This, I believe, is the secret to getting a consistent dry pie crust, as far as oven construction is concerned. Other factors are tied to management of the oven temps as well as the thickness of the crust and toppings. Lastly, making good pizza is an art, so…

  6. All of this talk of soggy crust is misdirected. We have eaten at Prima Strata enough to post a comment: The edge or perimeter on the pizza needs to be crispy/crunchy and it IS at Prima Strata. As long as the whole bottom of the pizza is properly cooked with “char” marks, it is OK for the middle of the pizza that contains the toppings to be moist on top. I would not use the word “soggy” to describe the pizza. Oh by the way, they do a damn good job there.

  7. Pingback: Pizza props – BLOG Pizzeria Prima Strada - Authentic Neapolitan Pizza – Victoria BC

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