Office Daddy, Leng Lei, Playboy and I usually go for lunch once or twice a week. I never get to pick as it is the bossier ones that decide. This time around, Office Daddy said he wanted to see his friend Benny at La Luna Rossa for pizza. Leng Lui and Superman were excited, as they were craving pizza. My cries for pho went unnoticed.
Leng Lui looked up La Luna Rossa but didn’t see pizza on the menu. She pouted and threatened not to go. Office Daddy just laughed and directed Playboy, who was driving, to the restaurant. “Don’t worry office kids, you’ll get your pizza.”
Office Daddy walked into La Luna Rossa and said to Benny, the owner of La Luna “Benny, we’re going to eat pizza now at your wife’s place!” We exited Benny’s restaurant, bewildered, and then Office Daddy led us to a pizzeria two doors past La Luna to Azzurri.
Azzurri is small café, with only a handful of tables. Azzurri is owned and operated by Benny’s wife, mama Terry Ricioppo, and their two sons. We met one of the sons, Faustino Ricioppo. Office Daddy kept pronouncing his name as “Fatso”. Faustino tried to correct him but gave up after a couple of tries.
The pizza oven was flown in from Napoli. The gas brick oven apparently takes two years to cure. All the 12 inch pizzas are made with Caputo “00” flour. The tables were filled by 12:30pm, and our crew were the only non-Italians in the joint.
The pizzas are so outstanding and I’m putting Azzurri on Hitting the Sauce’s list of favourite restaurants in Calgary. We tried the Fiori del Verde ($7), a Margherita ($13) and the 10 pizza ($20).
The quality of the pizzas and even the simple salad stood out. The mixed greens tasted like it was just plucked from the garden, tossed with a house vinaigrette.
The margherita is made with San Marzano D.O.P tomatoes, mozzarella fior di latte, basil, sea salt, and extra virgin olive oil. I had no idea such simple ingredients could taste so good. The basil on top of the pizza was so fresh, the tomato sauce was tangy. Underneath the cheese was another layer of basil. The thickness of the dough was just right, and crisp, just the way I like it.
The 10 is made with San Marzano D.O.P tomatoes, mozzarella fior di latte, prosciutto di Parma D.O.P, arugula, cherry tomatoes, and parmigiano reggiano. I could see the owner shaving slices of the meat and the cheese just before serving the pizza. You can taste the quality of the ingredients and the love goes into these pies.
The tiramisu here is killer, better than Mercato’s version. A little mint is soaked into the butterfingers. There is a sweetness to the custard and the orange liquor gave it that needed booziness. Leng Lei was ticked off we didn’t order one each. Don’t make the mistake we did and share. This s#$* is amazing.
Thanks Office Daddy for taking us to this gem. Though you pissed us off on our way there because you were so secretive, we still adore you as our office guardian.