Sunday, November 20, 2011

Davisville Village: Viva Napoli cares about pizza!

Back in August of this year, I applauded a new pizzeria restaurant in Davisille Village at 679 Mount Pleasant. Since then I've been a regular patron and the pizza has always been outstanding!

I know pizza dough is a personal thing. I've had some folks say its not crispy enough. I was there again for a late lunch today and I'm still very much in love! I hate when the crust is so thin and crispy it breaks into pieces and the pizza toppings are strewn all over my plate. The edge of the pizza was cripy and the crust moist in order to retain the deliciously fresh items selected to complement the homemade tomato sauce and fior di latte Mozzarella.

When Viva Napoli first opened, it was impossible to get in and maybe some people stopped trying. But no more, if you're in the mood for excellent pizza...drop by! I think the initial novelty has passed somewhat and although they are very busy, I've never had a problem getting a table in about 5-10 mins. And by the way, the service is always excellent, you can tell the pride everyone takes in their work from Giustino (the owner) to everyone on staff. So I'm re-running my review from August below...and I encourage you to drop by Viva Napoli!

August 7, 2011: I love Italian food. But this new trend towards thin-crust pizza has left me wanting and rarely ordering pizza anymore! Thin-crust pizza that offers little less than cardboard tasting dough and a sprinkle of toppings is not for me.

In steps "VIVA NAPOLI" and pizza is back on my "to do" list! At long last a restaurant on Mt Pleasant, in the heart of Davisville Village (679 Mount Pleasant) that serves an authentic Neapolitan pizza! Is it any wonder the place is jammed packed every night? Viva Napoli opens at 5:30 and at 6:15 when I walk in, there is already a line up for their succulent authentic Neapolitan pizza!

Owned and operated by the Iorio family (Giustino's family has been in Davisville for ages), this is a family owned restaurant with his wife and their two young adult kids working the floor while Giustino is working in the kitchen. And what a kitchen! All in white with the back wall all glass overlooking a wall of outdoor greenery. Patrons can see what's going on in the open concept kitchen in the back. Here everything is white, clean, efficient and everyone is very busy.

Once seated, my charming Italian server suggests a glass of fine Greco di Tufo wine! Now I'm hooked, I must go to the LCBO and find this amazing white wine from the Campania wine region. It has an amazing full body taste that is usually found in reds! Its rich and thick with flavour and just rolls in your mouth teasing your taste buds to drink more (so I did!). Btw: they serve their wine in real wine glasses..when I get a perfectly chilled glass of white wine I want it served in a wine glass with a stem so as to keep it nice that way as long as possible.

At Viva Napoli the stovetop, range and fryer barely seem used! The antipasto is served fresh and otherwise it's all about the pizzas and their delectable fresh toppings. The mound of cheese is sliced delicately and carefully (it seems only fresh fior di latte Mozzarella is used here and it tastes amazing on the pizza). All the heavy lifting in this kitchen is done by the Pizza Maestro in front of his wood oven!

Il Maestro is concentrated on preparing the pizzas, placing and replacing them in different directions in the gargantuan wood oven so as to not overcook them. The story is that they had to tear down a wall to get the 7,500 pound contraption inside the restaurant. He moves the pizzas around, playing a symphony with them, caring for each pizza lovingly! Each one is painstakingly prepared with loving attention to detail. This isn't your traditional commercial pizza joint. And so those who come in to order take-out know that this pizza is well worth the little extra wait time! At Viva Napoli, it's clear that it's all about the love of Napoli..and the love of pizza..and the authenticity of the craft.

I had the most amazing pizza with ham/artichoke/black olives (think it was the Capriccioso but can't swear to the spelling). This thin-crust pizza isn't afraid to offer taste and sustenance. The toppings are generous and almost (but not quite) too heavy for the thin crust. The pizza crust was crisp and the toppings were done just right (you know it's done just right when there's a little pool of juices from the medley of toppings when it's served). The sauce was aromatic with the smell of tomatoes and herbes and with the fior di latte cheese, it was perfect. Bottom line, that pizza was the best I've had in years!

So my parting out folks, there's a new Italian in Davisville Village...get ready to fall in love!

PS: A selection of 23 pizzas ($10-$25) are currently offered, antipasto and a few desserts. There is talk of expanding the menu to include pastas and other signature dishes from Naples. There are no reservations, so get there early or be willing to wait a bit. But believe me, you won't regret it. I am sure to see you there soon.