Taste Naples and Die: Top 5 Places to Indulge in Heavenly ‘Za

left: Novo's Margherita pizza. right: Nicli Antica Prosciutto and basil pizza. Photos by Anya Levykh

The old Italian saying “See Naples and die” had a double meaning: 1) See Naples and die figuratively at its beauty, and 2) See Naples and you will likely die from the plague that swept through the city several times during the Renaissance. Naples, however, overcame its deadly reputation and became a killer in another area: pizza. The Verace Napoletana pizza pie has become a thing of legend and awe, espousing the liberal use of San Marzano tomatoes, Type 00 (meaning extra-fine) Caputo flour, fior di latte (fresh mozzarella), and the occasional basil leaf. Sure, some other toppings—grana padano, sardines, salsiccia—occasionally grace the bubbly crust as well, but, in Italy, pizza is all about the dough. If the crust ain’t there, fuggedaboudit.


Here in Vancouver, people have historically been dying from the lack of quality pies. Rewind three years ago, and exciting pizza options were mainly limited to stuffed crust, pineapple and chicken wings. Today, you can’t throw around some Type 00 without hitting a pizzeria that sells authentic Neapolitan or Emilia-Romagna thin-crust pizzas, all baked in wood-burning ovens at high temperatures. Here are my top five picks—both new and old—for heavenly pies you likely won’t find through delivery.


Nicli Antica Pizzeria

It’s a clean, bright room with a deep, dark oven that fires at 900°F to cook each pizza for around 90 seconds. This is in keeping with the guidelines laid down by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, which has certified Nicli’s pizzas as the genuine article. The Margherita—the classic benchmark by which all authentic pies are measured—is garnished with the requisite fior di latte  and large fresh basil leaves, but also gets a sprinkling of grana padano to liven things up.

Pizza to try: the Capocolla, with cured pork shoulder, grana padano, garlic, marjoram and chili oil.

Hours: 11:30am to midnight daily, no reservations, dine-in only

62 East Cordova St. | 604.669.6985 | www.nicli-antica-pizzeria.ca


Novo Pizzeria & Wine Bar

Bringing a little bit of Naples to Kitsilano, this dapper room is turning out some fantastic crusts from their applewood-fuelled oven, as well as some great burrata and Sicilian meatballs. A recent visit saw us trying the Margherita—stunningly simple—and some sublime buffalo ricotta.

Pizza to try: Prosciutto and arugula with parmigiano reggiano and fior di latte.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 11:30-3pm; dinner nightly from 5pm

2118 Burrard St. | 604.736.2220 | www.novopizzeria.com



These aren’t “Verace” pizzas, as the restaurant focuses more on the cuisine of the Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont regions. What does that mean? The crusts are still pretty thin (I’ve seen paper that’s thicker), although they are a little more crisp and the texture has a satisfying chew to it. As for the toppings, they are sourced locally but inspired by Italian grandmas the world over, so think housemade salumi, local fresh cheeses and herbs straight from the farmers’ market across the street.

Pizza to try: The BiancoVerde, with white base, spinach, fontina, mushrooms and olive oil.

Hours: Daily 11:30-2:30 and 5pm to late, reservations only for groups of eight or more.

1020 Main St. | 604.484.6018 | www.campagnolorestaurant.ca


Pizzeria Barbarella

It’s Naples meets New York at this East Side joint just west of Fraser. The menu is small, but it’s all about the wood-burning love. And not only are the pies just dreamy, the vines and hops list is also worth a shout-out or two. At least three B.C. craft brews are on tap at any given time, with a dozen or so bottled to round out the mix. Wines are well chosen and great value, like the sparkling Lambrusco you can sip for $6.50 a glass. As for the pies, the Margherita is pumped up with aged mozza and parmigiano reggiano to give that extra hit of gooey cheese over razor-thin crust that cries out “SO not sharing!”

Pizza to try: Funghi, with béchamel sauce instead of tomato, roasted criminis, parmigiano, and white truffle oil. Ahhh…

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 5pm-10pm

654 East Broadway | 604.210.6111 | www.pizzeriabarbarella.com


Via Tevere

You can’t ask for more “vera” than this. This family-run pizza joint recently opened just off Commercial Drive and has its roots in Naples (on Via Tevere, natch). The focus is all about preserving tradition and serving up beautiful, hand-stretched crusts with bubbling more extravagant than il Duomo di San Gennaro and authentic toppings that only require a good glass of wine to make them perfect. Bonus: the Margherita comes in a mini size for the bambini.

Pizza to try: Napoletana, with anchovies, basil and fior di latte.

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, from 5pm, no reservations.

1190 Victoria Drive | 604.336.1803 | www.viateverepizzeria.com


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Anya Levykh was born on the shores of the Black Sea, in what was formerly the USSR. The cold, Communist winters were too much for her family, and, before she was four feet tall, they had left for warmer climes in the south of ...

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