316 Virginia Street
There are definitely folks out there who take their pizza seriously. It’s no joking matter to them. From the in-depth discussions about the best kinds of flour to use, the optimal oven environments and of course the ideal toppings to make the perfect pie, the discussion will never result in everyone agreeing on one definitive pizza as the “best”. At foodosophy, we’ve certainly not been shy about expressing our thoughts and sharing our experiences at various pizzerias around North America as can be seen here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Wow, that was a lot. And not all of them either.
Now from the Tom Douglas empire comes a boldly named enterprise that would apparently be an apt gathering spot for interesting gourmands willing and able to discuss all things pizza. Serious Pie. Just adore that name. On this visit to Seattle, we had this particular address programmed into our minds but by shear chance, we walked right past the other location in South Lake Union, after checking out the nearby Tesla car showroom. But keeping with our agenda, we hoofed it back to Virginia Street as we weren’t quite hungry yet after our late morning meal back at Toulouse Petit.
700 Main St.
A year ago this week I was in London, UK. So fitting that I should visit a gastropub that has taken that city’s name in its title. Nestled in a restored corner space of a brick building on the southern edge of Chinatown along Main Street, this still relatively new establishment seems to have a carved out a niche for itself with a loyal and locally residing customer base, judging by how busy and loud it got during the course of my stay. Large, spacious, things to do like some pool tables, video games and big screens to watch sports, it has none of that commercially produced feel of say a Boston Pizza, but rather feel just like the work of some folks who wanted to create a place to hang out, have some suds and meet up with friends for some pub grub. My kind of joint…
The London Pub while first and foremost a watering hole, did have some food on the menu to peruse from and with nothing in my stomach after a long day of work, we figured something to munch on would be good. Looking to split something more substantial the the listing of smaller appetizers shown, we opted to try one of their pizza’s, 11-inch I believe. The barbecue chicken seemed to be the most appealing and substantial of the lot, so that’s what we ordered from the personable young lass who was assigned to our table with the high stools. Fairly chewy and softer textured dough and on the sweeter side with the sauce, gourmet pizza it is not, but for someone who was in need of some sustenance, it fit the bill just fine. Size-wise, more than enough for the pair of us.
O-toro previously wrote about this now five-location strong pizzeria based in Edmonton known as Famoso that is trumpeting some true ingredients that go into a classic Neapolitan pie. So on my recent visit to the Alberta capital, I knew I had to give it a try myself, as there is no sign of it coming to the west coast any time soon, and I don’t have immediate plans to visit Calgary (where they have one of their five locations).
As it was on the city’s south side and thus closest to the airport that still is way too far for my liking from the city’s downtown core, the South Edmonton Common location was visited for this lunchtime meal. [I did manage to see the location for the one downtown later during my stay]. It was quite busy for a mid-week day, although I’m sure the pending holidays had something to do with it, but the access to this shopping area wasn’t as bad as it ended up being days later (and of course for Boxing Day). First impressions were positive. Bright, clean, with a nice buzz about the place. The centralized glass display that housed many of the desserts and drinks anchored the room, with the pizza cooks working in the open towards the back where I could also spot the wood burning oven. Everything fit the “fast casual” claim they spout out in their marketing.
Chihuahua’s Mexican Food & Pizza
881 Carnarvon Street
New Westminster, BC
After my recent satisfying experience at La Taqueria, I wanted to continue my quest of discovering the very best of tacos in the greater Vancouver area. On a complete whim, I was in New Westminster and passed by a place that I remembered as being Mexican (as far as the signage goes) and slowly crept by in my car until I found it once again. Without any information other than my faded memory of the store front, my decision to stop and walk inside was based on the silhouettes of several people eating inside that came into my eye. Had it been empty, I might have been less inclined to stop. Do you ever do that? Base entering a restaurant upon how busy the place is? Love to hear from you in the comments box if so/if not, and why/why not…
The moment I stepped inside, I had a good vibe. All of the folks inside were Latino, and the female served burst out with a “hola!” upon seeing me. I knew I was just going for take away so headed straight to the front counter, that was fronted by a large heating case apparently for pizzas – of which there were none on display as the folks ahead of me took away a box that probably contained the last few pieces. As I took in the small menu sheet that was taped up on the glass which listed all of the available offerings, a fellow came in asking when the next pizza would be ready – six minutes called out the male employee – and headed back out for a smoke only to return some time later. The whole pizza thing made me lose some hope that I’d be getting a true Mexican experience. But I guess there is nothing you can do when you try to be more than one kind of eatery, serving what appears to be the native Canadian crowd who wants cheap, fast food, and those who have the cultural ties to that part of the world and probably come here for a taste of home.
2355 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA
Whenever I am in a city with great pizza, I make sure to eat as much of it as I can while I am there. San Francisco has a great pizza scene and I managed to eat at Pizzeria Delfina and A16 on this trip. (I note that Foodosophy member almatonne recently covered Pizzeria Delfina here.)
The pizza here is a thing of beauty – leopard-spotted from the intense heat of their wood fired oven. I had the baby octopus and clam pizza tonight. The crust was near perfect (though not quite as perfect as the crust at Pizzeria Delfina) and the toppings were well seasoned and well balanced.
Pizzeria Delfina – two locations
3611 18th St, San Francisco, CA. (415) 437-6800
2406 California St, San Francisco, CA. (415) 440-1189
[Note: Foodosopher's previous post on Pizzeria Delfina here]
The San Francisco Bay Area is usually considered one of the top cities in the country to eat pizza. Of the many well-regarded pizza places (A16, Piccolo, Pizzaiolo, Tony’s, Pizzetta 211, Dopo, et al.) Pizzeria Delfina is considered amongst the best, with a style that is typically described as Napoletana-inspired.
On my visits to this building which also houses Nao Sushi, I had often seen Anatolia’s Gate to be a busy place with customers inside, including many who visually seemed to have ethnic ties to the Arabic world – always a good sign when those who probably know best are eating inside. Promising myself I’d come back to visit, I did a while ago and got a take away dinner to go. With less than thirty minutes before closing time, the trio of employees who were still there were quite accommodating as I took my time perusing the menu full of Middle Eastern delights. I was happy to see the wood burning oven out front was still churning out a warm glow, but just to be sure I asked if the full menu was still available, and I was told that indeed it was. Perfect!
However, broken up into the following sections, there was a lot to choose from within each:
a) Cold Starters & Salads
b) Hot Starters, Wraps
c) Kabob Sofrasi
d) Steaks, Oven Dishes
e) Gourmet Pizzas & Sweets
Sharing between two people, I could expand on the selections somewhat, more so than if I was eating for one.
623 E Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Before we get into my pizza trip to Phoenix, let me introduce myself.
I’m currently a barista in Alberta and finished a Bachelor of Arts last spring. I’ve been working in the food industry for the last 11 years, but only started appreciating real food when I began working in the specialty coffee industry three-and-a-half years ago. Being a part of the coffee industry has been an excellent opportunity for palate training: there are over 1,000 chemicals in roasted coffee, making for a very complex and diverse drink. No two cups of coffee or two pulls of espresso are the same; the quest for the perfect extraction lead many baristi to lose sleep, become over-caffeinated and obsessive. One major upside is that any good barista will become concerned about everything she consumes. It is through this process that I really began to care about the food I eat. By no means do I claim to be a culinary expert; I’m just a food-lover, like every other contributor on foodosophy. I care about where my food comes from and hope that the person who prepared it cares even more. I also believe that when someone focuses on one thing and decides to put everything he or she has into it, the results will come through. This is obviously true in the food industry and I intend to experience as much of that passion around the world as I possibly can.
3611 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
There’s a movement going on all around us. I call it the gentrification of fast food. First burgers. Now pizza. Almattone argues with me that it’s “fancification”, not gentrification. Whatever you want to call it, it’s happening. Staple fast food is turning into haute cuisine.
In a recent Rachel Ray Magazine special, Ed Levine and Adam Kuban created a “March Madness” bracket for pizzerias around the US. Pitting East against West, South-Southwest against Mid-west, they identified some of the top pizzerias and dared to compared. As a sports fan who also loves pizza, i found this to be a fantastically fun exercise. One of several Bay Area competitors was Pizzeria Delfina.
Pizzeria Delfina was founded by Craig and Anne Stoll of the extremely popular Delfina Restaurant next door. The winner of the 2008 James Beard award for Best Chef in the West, Craig Stoll was inspired to create Pizzeria Delfina based on the pizzerias of NYC, and Naples. What he has done is brought his expertise and love of quality ingredients to the neighbourhood pizza joint. And the neighbourhood loves it. Between the Bi-rite and Tartine Bakery, this is a veritable stretch of culinary goodness.
Papa Dave’s Pizza
820 20th St
New Westminster, BC
[To begin this particular post, let me first note that I was fumbling around with one of my cameras and my cell phone, and ate some of my meal in the restaurant itself as well I took the leftovers home. Hence, the "variation" in the images below.]
In a tiny commercial building that houses a Vietnamese restaurant (to be written up in a future post), a sandwich shop and a Filipino grocery, a fourth business claims residence as a pizzeria. With a less than unique namesake (I guess “John” was already taken), Papa Dave’s churns out pizzas, lasagnas and other easy fast food meals in this part of town bordering the edge of southeast Burnaby and the western side of New West. Well, make that rather a very enthusiastic and friendly three-generation, East Indian family that is in charge of the actual cooking.
Hoping to just grab a slice or two for a quick meal, I discovered that there were no hot, ready-made pizzas/slices sitting in some warming display case, as is found in many a pizza joint in town. Alas, I asked how long it would take for them to make me a full pie instead, and since there was no wait I smacked down some cash for what turned out to be an eight-piecer. The 12″ pizza was from the “top of the line’ section of their menu, and was a shrimp pizza loaded with mushrooms, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, pineapple and what was dubbed “Papa Dave’s three cheese blend”. Yes, a unique mixture. And when it comes to weird eats, I’m often game.
Nat’s New York Pizzeria
2684 W Broadway
This is just a hunch but I have this feeling that right up there with posts on sushi, pizza is a very close second here on foodosophy. Both in terms of the number of entries and also the variety of locations that its been consumed by our writing staff.
I thought I’d contribute more to this food item, though I am not as knowledgeable as the likes of foodosopher and gastronomydomine, with a write up on a place that I’ve often passed by but had never gone into, until recently…
Nat’s New York Pizzeria has two locations, one downtown and the other in Kits. As the box notes, they offer pizza by the slice, eat in and take out options, as well as delivery. The West Broadway location which I visited, was decorated quite enthusiastically in various kinds of New York-themed paraphernalia. Also spotted were many pictures of people (staff?) on fishing trips showing off their catches over the years. Clearly, there is a comfort level here in decorating to their tastes/liking. For me, it seemed a bit tacky and artificially-New Yorkified (that a word?).
153 Beale Street
Memphis, TN 38103
When you think Beale Street, most people think Blues. BB King. Smoky dive bars, neon lights. In actual fact, it is crowded with tourist bars, clubs, and a lot of tourists. Except for the Black Diamond.
We didn’t plan on coming here. Our plan was to go to Dyer’s for some fried burgers. But they were closed. And an impromptu torrential downpour meant we had to seek shelter, especially when caught without an umbrella – a bad decision in Memphis in general. We found a place that was close, and not overly crowded. “Black Diamond” written in neon. Sure, why not.
Plastic chairs and dirty tables. Locals who didn’t appreciate their space being invaded. Smoking indoors (ack!). There were no blues, but there was football. And beer. Cold beer.
People would expect places like the Black Diamond to have bad service – well surprisingly enough, it was quite good. The server was friendly, and efficient. And he brought beer, menus, and took our orders. No complaints.
Pizzeria Prima Strada
105 230 Cook Street
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.
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.)
2664 Gladys Ave
Vancouver’s lack of decent pizza is well known amongst the city’s foodie circles. It’s hard to explain the dearth of a good slice. After all, the city is known for its vibrant food scene…and one would think that some of this energy would have rubbed off on pizza. Sure there are a few bright spots, but compared to a city of similar size like Portland OR, the Vancouver pizza scene is a wasteland.
The typical Vancouver pizza slice is greasy; the crust thick, cakey and doughy; and the toppings are institutional-grade (think “cheese” and “salami”).
Ah Beetz is a pizzeria about an hour’s drive away in Abbotsford. It has some underground cred: Vancouver Pizza fanatics have been known to drive this way just to get a decent slice of NY style pizza.
Pizza Bob’s Classic Pie
2610 Kensington Rd NW
Is there anything in North American food culture as easily identifiable as a take out pizza box? Some might say those cute Chinese food delivery boxes, but I think that’s more of a media creation and you more often than not instead get such food packed in those white Styrofoam containers or those flimsy metallic trays where you crimp the edges over top a cardboard lid to seal things shut.
Compared to those pizza boxes that have a simple stenciled image of the shop’s name on it (which are appealing in their own way for their old school look), Pizza Bob’s Classic Pie instead had a full fledged artistic logo which I found mildly amusing. What the heck an alligator has to do with a pizza, while riding atop a sports car is beyond my understanding though…
Being a neighbourhood joint near my friend’s home in West Hillhurst, Pizza Bob’s is a place where we’ve ordered or picked up a pie to share in the past. I suppose its more a matter of convenience and comfortable routine that we fall into, but when you’re not particularly looking to dine out, portable pizza fits the bill. If you’ve ever been outside this establishment (located next to a 7-11 convenience store), your first inclination is to think this is a local pub and not a place that serves pizza. With a small outdoor patio area often populated by folks enjoying their suds, and a heavy wooden door leading inside to a dated and dark space inside, its not the most inviting place you’d pick to eat in.