Italian · Pizza · Restaurants

Noble Pie Pizza – Round two

My beloved Jaime is in town! I haven’t seen my vegetarian friend since COVID. I suggested Noble Pie Pizza for our dinner date, as I know she appreciates a good pizza. For this post, let’s listen to “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd.

We ordered the Marinated Olives ($8) and a glass of the Venturini Baldini Lambrusco rosé ($13) to start. The green olive was our favourite of the bunch because the flesh was buttery and juicy. I loved the flavours of the fennel, citrus and rosemary in the marinade. 

We ordered three pizzas in the new dine-in 13″ size – the Sweet Cheesus ($19), Brooklyn White ($19), and the Magic Pie ($19). We purposely ordered too much food, as we wanted to try everything. So much food was left over that we took an entire pie home. 

The Sweet Cheesus was the simplest of the trio. Jaime thought this was more of a dessert than a savoury main because of the honey. The pizza was saucy and cheesy; the two prominent flavours were honey and Sicilian oregano. I can see this pizza being popular with kids. I learned this at my last family reunion, as my nephews and nieces would only eat cheese pizza. 

Jaime’s favourite was the Brooklyn White. Man, this is one tasty pizza! The rich, heady flavours of the caramelized onions and sesame seeds were prominent. The ricotta was creamy and paired well with garlic, parsley, and cheeses. I would get this again. 

I would also order the Magic Pie again. Miss Foodie recommended this secret menu item. She never steers me wrong. The fennel sausage was fatty (in a good way) and spicy, with a hint of licorice. The cream, basil, and fresh mozzarella made this gloriously decadent. 

Jaime mentioned that New Yorkers eat their pizza slices folded in half. I tried this method and found one benefit – the crust enveloped all the saucy goodness. However, I’m not 100% sold on “To Fold or Not to Fold,” but I’m willing to try this methodology again.

I can’t wait to see more of Jaime in the future, now with COVID restrictions on the decrease. Perhaps our next visit can be to Italy, her favourite travel destination. 

Pizza

Actually Pretty Good – Pizza

On Monday, L had a long day. I didn’t want to cook when I came home, so I told him I was taking him out for dinner. We wanted some place close, so I suggested Actually Pretty Good in Bankview. For this post, let’s listen to “Manic Monday” by The Bangles.

On the day we visited, all pizzas were on special for $15. The restaurant was packed, so we purchased tall cans of Cabin Brewing Company Supersaturation NEPA ($7), Eighty-Eight Brewing Co. Tiffany Rosé Saison ($7) and chilled out on the bench outside. We landed a patio seat in about ten minutes. Personally, I think restaurants with a queue should encourage drinking around their vicinity, as it takes the bite out of waiting.

Outside the restaurant, the music was more of a whisper. Even though we were in the parking lot, the makeshift patio worked. I noticed the hanging flower baskets emitted a sweet fragrance. L pointed out the lights strung up in the trees. The owners created a nice space.


We ordered two pizzas, the Full Nelson ($25, Monday $15) and the Capricciosa ($24, Monday $15). The first pizza to come out was the Full Nelson. The dough was light and crisp, with a clean taste. The crust was puffy with crispy air pockets. The pizza was creamy from the four kinds of cheeses and white sauce and salty from the minced-up prosciutto. The honey added a pleasing touch of sweetness.

The Capricciosa was the heavier of the two pies. This pizza was loaded with fior di latte and juicy from the artichokes, green olives, and cubed chili smoked ham. The sundried tomatoes added a tart brightness to the whole flavour profile.

There’s a lot to like about Actually Pretty Good. The beers are reasonably priced, the staff are friendly and hardworking, and the pizza is a wicked deal on Mondays. We had four pieces left over, and when reheated in our air fryer two days later, it was just as good as when we ate it fresh out of the oven. Hitting the Sauce gives Actually Pretty Good two phat thumbs up.

Italian · Pizza · Restaurants

Noble Pie Pizza

The Executive has the best after-work life. In the last month, she’s been to Vintage, Donna Mac, Pat and Betty, Wise and Wright and PD3 by Blake. I love hearing her recaps so much that it inspired me to try a new restaurant. Let’s listen to “Smooth Criminal” by Micheal Jackson. 

Based on what I’ve read, Noble Pie Pizza has an excellent reputation with its customers. I’ve always wanted to go, but the no reservation policy deterred me. On Thursday night, I told L we had to go. He agreed and said if there were a wait, he would be okay with it. Lucky for us, there were still spots at the bar. 

You access Nobel Pizza through the back alley by Metrovino Wines and the Cookbook Shop. When we walked in, I noticed four chefs lined up side-by-side, each intensely focused on their work. I could tell right away we were in good hands. The restaurant is small but spacious, as the tables aren’t crammed together like most popular spots. The room is dimly lit, with a funky vibe. I mentioned to L that the music wasn’t generic. He nodded and said, more importantly, it was at an appropriate volume. Noble Pizza seems popular with families, as parents and their kids occupy most of the booths. 

When I saw the wine list, I knew I had to bring my friends here for girls’ night. I ordered a glass of the Venturini Baldini Lambrusco rosé ($13). Our server gave me an extra big pour because he was near the end of the bottle. His unexpected generosity gave me a burst of giddiness. The sparkling rosé was fresh and light. 

We shared the Noble Caesar Salad ($15). This salad is pure joy. I was shocked to see the mountain of parmigiano reggiano piled on top of the lettuce. I asked our server if we could get extra cheese. She looked alarmed and then smiled when she realized I was joking. The romaine lettuce was crisp and cool. I prefer Noble’s Caesar to Una’s, because the former has a softer, fluffier texture, and the proportion of garlicky anchovy sauce to lettuce was spot on, so each piece of lettuce was glossy from the dressing. The toasted panko added a subtle crunch.

We ordered an 18-inch Half Roni / Half Extra Fancy ($37) pizza. Holy Cheesus, what a beauty! The crust was glorious – the edges billowed out, creating beautiful air pockets. The dough was crisp and light. The last time I had a pizza of this calibre was at Savino Pizzeria and Rocket Pie

The pepperoni in the roni was rich, salty, and still sizzling. I thought the oregano and pop of garlic in the tomato sauce were pleasantly pungent. The tissue of the bread was chewy. What was music to my ears was the blistering sound of the crunch and crackle of the crust as we chomped throughout our meal.

I enjoyed the fancy pizza the most because of the meaty pieces of roasted mushrooms and the crunch of the red onions. If you don’t like spicy food, ask to omit the jalapeños. I bragged to L that the jalapeños weren’t spicy, and then I bit into one with some seeds.  

To quell my tingling tongue, I asked for a glass of red wine that was full-bodied and not heavy with tannins. Our server recommended Monte Bernardi Italia ti Adoro ($13). The wine was so damn smooth that it should be criminal. 

The slices were massive. I could only eat two while L ate three. We had leftovers, enough for L’s breakfast and lunch. We are planning our second visit, where L wants to try the Sweet Cheezus pie. This place has it all! Fantastic wine, excellent service and some mind-blowing quality pizza. Hitting the Sauce gives Noble Pie Pizza two phat thumbs up.

Pizza

Una Pizzeria

Since L’s been away, Bex.oxo has helped me with pet sitting, as my dog gets extra anxious when his dad is gone. On Tuesday, I received a text from her that my little boy had an unfortunate incident involving my new white couch. I told Bex.oxo not to worry about the crime scene, as I would deal with it when I returned. She didn’t listen to me and took care of the problem. I immediately called my mother-in-law, who was only too happy to take Brut to her house until L was back home. Let’s hear ” Wipe Out” by the Surfaris for this post. 

On Thursday, I told Bex.oxo that I was taking her out for dinner. We decided on Una Pizzeria in West Springs, as we both like the food, and I could make online reservations. If I’m going out for dinner, I’ll generally avoid any restaurant unless I can get a reservation. 

I asked Bex.oxo if she had any food restrictions. She told me to order whatever, and she would pick out any ingredient doesn’t like. I love how low maintenance she is. We ordered a glass of wine (Francis Coppola, $15, house sauvignon blanc, $9), Kale Caesar ($20), Gnocchi Bianca ($23), Veggie Pizza ($18), and Roasted Cauliflower ($16). 

Our server did an excellent job spacing out all the dishes. I enjoyed the leisurely pace as it allowed us to take our time to enjoy all the different dishes at their optimal temperature.

The first dish we tried was the roasted cauliflower. I never eat cauliflower at home because it tastes like rubber to me. To make cauliflower taste this good, you have to have a strong sauce game. Una nailed it. We enjoyed the combination of rich, hot buttery brown sauce, the cool tahini crème fraîche, sweet dates, and fresh herbs. Bex.oxo noted that the addition of fresh dill and the sweetness of dates gave this dish the perfect balance of lightness and decadence.  

I’m a fan of Una’s organic local kale salad. The kale tasted like it was massaged with olive oil and lemon. My favourite part of this salad is the fine dusting of crunchy panko, sharp shards of pecorino romano and the still warm, salty, crumbly bacon. 

Oh my Cod, the gnocchi bianca was worth the calories. Each gnocchi was hot and super soft, dosed in a thick garlic cream and grana padano. I loved the complex flavour from the house-made bacon, as it added another layer of umami. I would get this again.

Currently, the pizza I liked best at Una is the veggie. Bex.oxo thought the feta went well with the roasted red peppers, sundried tomato puree, and honey. What she appreciates about the pizza at Una is the care put into all the ingredients. Like the finely slivered crunchy onions, the quality of the cheeses, and the sweetness of the peppers. I enjoyed the hot, stringy cheese and the puffy crust with the crisp edges and the crunchy bottom. The only thing that would enhance this pizza would be a side of garlicky aioli, which I didn’t see on the menu. Bex.oxo told me her favourite pizza is the Tiki, which I’ll have to try when we return.

As we were eating, I noticed an accumulation of mushrooms piling on her plate. Bex.oxo says she doesn’t like shrooms, and it’s a texture thing. I’m glad I didn’t order the mushroom pizza. I like the cremini mushrooms at Una, as they have a firm, meaty texture with a robust, earthy flavour.

I made Bex.oxo order dessert. She was so full that she could only have a taste. Our server came back with a lid. How adorable is that? I’m a big fan of Una, there’s more than just pizza, and I found all our dishes enjoyable. Hitting the Sauce gives Una two phat thumbs up.

Beer · Pizza · Pubs

Richmond Pub

I was texting my brother Jacuzzi about a series of unfortunate events. He must have noticed the melodramatic tone in my messages because he immediately ordered me to go out for dinner. I told L and he agreed with Jacuzzi. As always, they are correct. For this post, let’s listen to “Cherry Bomb” by Joan Jett.

L was in the mood for pizza. I suggested Richmond Pub because their pizza rivals Spiros, Hanni’s and Inglewood Pizza. On the night we went, a 12″ pizza and a 60 oz beer were on special for $30. For drinks, we picked Duke Lager, an easy-drinking American-style beer. For pizza, we went for the gut filling Rocky Balboa.

I also ordered hot wings ($14.50). Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the wings and beer because my photography was worse than usual. If a picture is worth a thousand words, my photos that night would be worth only a sentence fragment.

The menu states Richmond Pub only uses fresh wings. I thought the wings were great – the skin was crispy and the meat was white and plump. The hot sauce was pleasantly tangy and spicy.

The pizza is heavily layered with pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, red onion, and blanketed with a thick layer of gooey cheese. The tomato sauce was bright and zingy. The crust was crunchy and thick enough to stand up to the ratio of meat and cheese.

Thanks, L and Jacuzzi – it turns out all I needed was a night out. Hitting the Sauce gives Richmond Pub’s pizza two phat thumbs up.

Pizza · Vancouver/Richmond

L.A. Chicken and Steveston Pizza

On Boxing Day, L and I had dinner at our family friend’s house. We originally planned to meet up for a double date at Cocoru but decided to meet at her house instead. For this post, let’s listen to “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynrd.

Celia told me she was ordering from Steveston Pizza, a restaurant well-known for its extravagant seafood pizzas. I told her I would bring takeout from L.A. Chicken, the O.G. for fried chicken in Richmond.

When I arrived at L.A. Chicken, there was already a long line-up. The small shop is managed by the owner and his wife. He would ring up an order, run to the kitchen to pack up the food, then hustle back to the register to take the following order. What struck me was how patient, and appreciative each customer was throughout this process. The majority of customers looked like regulars, and each would respectfully nod, thank the owner profusely for being open, and leave a tip in appreciation for his hard work. When it was my turn to order, I could see the visible stress on his face and the whites of his eyes as he glanced at the growing line. He looked like he was having a panic attack.


When I arrived at Celia’s house, I mentioned the owner looked like he was having a meltdown. She laughed and mentioned she’s eaten at L.A. Chicken for years and the owner always looks liike that, even in the middle of the day when the business is quieter. She equated the owner to the Soup Nazi in Seinfield and said he is a maestro when it comes to fried chicken. I disagreed and thought it was his wife who was the unsung hero, as I saw her cooking up all the chicken.

I laid out my 10-piece spread ($34.99) with half spicy, half regular fried chicken, gravy, fries and nuggets ($8.99). I read the spicy chicken has a crunchier batter than the regular chicken. Celia ordered an Earth Pizza ($28), Pepperoni ($20) and a Fiume Pizza ($32).


I only tried the Fiume Pizza because I can’t resist seafood. This pizza was piled high with enormous pieces of crunchy pesto shrimp. The smoked salmon and creamy white sauce were so flavourful and each bite was bursting full of shrimpy goodness.

Fried Chicken


The spicy chicken wasn’t very spicy. The seasoning was subtle, and the batter was extra crunchy. What made this chicken stand out from the other fast food joints was the juiciness and plumpness of the brined chicken. I liked the ratio of the meat to batter too. I find Korean chicken is more batter and sauce than meat. I also found the meat quality at L.A. chicken better than Popeye’s or KFC. L.A. Chicken makes good homestyle fried chicken.


The chicken nuggets were covered in a crunchy, crumbly breading. The meat was springier than McDonald’s nuggets and didn’t deflate or harden as the meat cooled. The fries were average and nothing special.

When I came home I told my mother Celia over-ordered. My mother asked me why Celia ordered so much food. I said I didn’t know. Celia had so much food leftover, she said she would ask her mother over for lunch. The following day, Celia’s mother called my mother and told her that her daughter made her come over to finish up the pizza. Hot gossip travels fast. Thanks, Celia for a lovely night.

Bakery · Bars/Lounges · Cheap Eats · Curry · Fast Food · Happy Hour · Italian · Mexican · Patio · Pizza

First Street Market – Pure Street Food, Saffron Street, Moose and Poncho

On Sunday, L and I checked First Street Market. I’ve heard favourable things about all the vendors – particularly the places I’ve never tried such as Actually Pretty Good, La Mano, and Friends with Benedicts. However, on this visit, I came specifically for Pure Street Food and Moose and Poncho, two restaurants I’ve frequented in the past. For this review, let’s listen to “All These Things That I’ve Done” by The Killers.

We grabbed a spot at the First Street Bar, just in time for the tail end of happy hour (4:00-6:00 p.m.). I ordered a glass of the Vinho Verde (HH $5, Regular $7, HH Bottle $25, Regular $35) and L chose the Snake Lake Pilsner (HH $5, Regular $7).

The Portuguese white wine was served ice cold. I found this wine bright with strong tropical notes. Other than First Street Market Bar, I don’t know anywhere else in the city where you can get a drinkable bottle of wine for only $35. Where was this place when I was in school?

At Pure Street Food I ordered the Bun Bo Sate ($12) and a Fire Chicken w/ Melted Cheese Sesame Donut ($6) for L. The broth was thick, rich and beefy. The slices of beef shank, brisket and beef rib were flavourful and tender. The noodles had a nice bounce to them.

I took a bite of the sesame donut. The flavour of the crispy sesame shell was prominent. L thought the fire chicken was delicious and not painfully spicy like he experienced in Korea.

L ordered four tacos ($6 each): Carnitas (confit pork) and Suadero (lime-marinated confit beef). Both the pork and beef tacos were tasty. I found the seasoning and quality of the meats delectable. I also liked how the flavour of the cilantro wasn’t overpowering. I mentioned to L that I wish he ordered some salsas ($3.50 each) to go with the tacos, as Moose and Poncho make some wicked dips. He said he didn’t see that option when he ordered and the staff never mentioned there were additional sauces he could have purchased. L thought the tacos didn’t need any more sauce than the one he was provided.

I was still hungry, so I ordered a Masala Dosa ($13) from Saffron Street. I remembered seeing Miss Foodie rave about this vendor. As always, she is correct. The crepe was light and delicate, fragrant with the smell of coconut. The potato filling was soft and creamy. I enjoyed alternating each crispy bite into the lentil stew, tomato and coconut chutney. I would order this again.


First Street Market reminds me of the food halls in Toronto, but more intimate and modern. I appreciate the concept – chef-driven, high-quality fast food paired with a bar offering inexpensive drinks. I look forward to my next visit! Hitting the Sauce gives First Street Market two phat thumbs up.

Italian · Pizza

Inglewood Pizza

It was G-Mah’s 75th birthday! To celebrate the occasion, L and I hosted a pizza party at our house. So, for this post, let’s listen to “16 Candles” by The Crests.

Lately, we’ve been ordering from Inglewood Pizza (Killarney location). We’ve enjoyed each pizza, except for the donair pizza, which we both found too sweet. For this occasion, we ordered four large pizzas.

Based on our sample survey (n=7), two pizzas stood out. The All-Meat ($27.15) and Greek Souvlaki ($27.15). The All-Meat pizza was layered with five types of meat: pepperoni, ham, beef, salami, and Italian sausage. Though the pizza was loaded with meats, the proportion of meat and cheese to dough was balanced.

The toppings in the Greek Souvlaki pizza are bountiful, topped with fresh tomatoes, red onion, grilled chicken breast with lemon, oregano, garlic and feta. I liked how each ingredient tasted light and fresh.

The other two pizzas we ordered are similar to each other. The only difference between the Villagers Choice ($26.65) and Town Special ($25.90) is the former contains ham on top of pepperoni, mushrooms, and green peppers.

L and my in-laws are die-hard fans of Hanni’s, but they mentioned Inglewood Pizza was just as good or even better. Personally, I prefer Inglewood Pizza’s crust over Hanni’s. Inglewood’s crust is lighter, and it has a more pleasing flavour.

Both Inglewood Pizza and Hanni’s are heavy-handed with the mozzarella. I prefer Inglewood’s creamier, saltier mozzarella. Inglewood Pizza’s tomato sauce is tangy, whereas Hanni’s has a unique sauce, which I find zesty and aromatic. Hanni’s specialty pizzas have even more cheese and toppings than Inglewood, so if you want a gut-busting pizza, go to Hanni’s.

Pro tip – Buy a large or extra large pizza and get the second one for 50% off. With our discount, the Town Special was $12.95 (regular $25.90), and the Villager was $13.33 (regular $26.65). Four large pizzas are enough for 8-10 guests. We had so much pizza leftover, that even after sending five slices home with G-Mah, I froze eight slices for future dinners.

Pizza

Savino Pizzeria – Visit #2

On Friday night, I was craving Neopolitan pizza. There are three places I frequent – Rocket Pie, Azzurri Pizzeria and Savino Pizzeria. I like to rotate between these pizzerias because they each make their own distinct Naples-style pizza. I picked Savino, as it was long overdue for a repeat visit. For this post, let’s listen to “Just Like A Woman” by Bob Dylan.

I ordered three personal size pizzas to share with L: Pizza Margherita ($12), The New Yorker ($12) and Classic Pepperoni ($14). I purposely ordered the simplest pizzas because I wanted to experience the food as my father did when he first visited Naples. Ludwig often reminisces how shocked he was to find that pizza in Italy was so dissimilar from what he grew up with in his predominantly Italian neighbourhood in Vancouver, BC.

Ludwig is one the better orators I know. I’d rank him after Mayor Naheed Nenshi and mayoral candidate Jyoti Gondek. When Ludwig tells this story, fifty years after his trip to Naples, he face still lights up with absolute bewilderment. His tone is dramatic and one of astonishment. “The pizzas were thin, with barely anything on it. A little tomato sauce, a little cheese, and that was it! It was delicious, yes, but I thought to myself, what is this? Where are the green peppers? The pepperoni and mushrooms? The thick layer of cheese and sauce?”

I can grasp the concept that pizzas differ by region and culture, so I dig what Savino is creating. The fresh, light flavour of the tomato sauce in the Margherita pizza popped out. I love how the thin crust contrasted against the softness of the fior’di latte mozzarella and tomato sauce. The fresh basil was fantastic. The taste of the herb was better than the four varieties I grow in my own garden. The crust was light and chewy, evenly charred throughout.

The New Yorker was tasty as hell. Though there are so few ingredients on the pizza, the tang of tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and cheese was intense. The cheese topping was crunchy. I was surprised that even though the crust and toppings were so minimal, there was still so much flavour. I thought the New Yorker was the most unique pizza I’ve tried. I would get this again.

The classic pepperoni was L’s favourite of the three pizzas. There was ample pepperoni, and each piece was crispy and fatty. L thought the crust highlighted the deliciousness of the pepperoni. This one is a winner – a real flavour bomb.

I’m making my way through the entire menu. We live near Savino, so our pizzas are still hot when we arrive home. If you live further away, I’d suggest you enjoy dinner in your car or a nearby park, so you eat the pizza at the optimal freshness. One thing to note – if you expect to get stuffed and have leftovers with one pizza (like I do at Hanni’s Pizza), Savino might not be for you. This style of pizza is quality over quantity. Hitting the Sauce gives this neighbourhood gem two phat thumbs up.

Italian · Pizza

Rocket Pie – Crust me, this is a good one

Grohl is in town. He has a much higher standard than I do when it comes to food. I told L we had to take him to places that we know are awesome, otherwise we will have to listen to him dramatically complain how his current city is so much better than Calgary’s restaurant scene. L suggested we take him to Rocket Pie in Canmore. In light of Stampede, let’s listen to “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash.

We were hungry after our hike, so we selected three pizzas – the Margherita ($18), Formaggi ($25 + $5 prosciutto) and the Mortadella ($24). For beverages, we ordered pints of Misty Mountain Hops ($8.50) and Dat Juice ($8.50).

Grohl said that if you want to know if a pizza place is any good, you should try the margherita pizza. Well, if a margherita is the litmus test of a stellar pizza, Rocket Pizza passes with flying colours. What I liked about this pizza is how the three ingredients stood out. The fior de latte is soft and stretchy with just the right amount of saltiness. The smell of the torn basil leaves is strong and fragrant. The crushed tomato sauce is bright and tangy. Simplicity at its best.

The formaggi pizza with prosciutto is a killer combination of sweet and salty. The saltiness of the prosciutto accentuated the sweetness of the honey and sharpness of the gorgonzola cheese. L said the addition of the prosciutto is worth more than five dollars.

The mortadella pizza is the most unique pizza I’ve tried in a while. L and Grohl noticed the scent of lemon zest. I thought the candied pistachios paired well with the mortadella because the sweet nuttiness popped against the cool fatty slices of meat. The layers of mortadella also helped to balanced out the fluffier, heavier sections of the crust.

The crust at Rocket Pie is something special. There’s this pleasing tastiness to it that makes you want to munch slowly to savour the flavour. I thought it was interesting that texture of the pizza crust varied by each pie, perhaps due to the toppings.

The formaggi pizza provided the crispiest crunch. The dough is thinner and the honey was almost caramelized right into the cheeses. I noticed the crust on the margherita is more blistered than the other pies. I love the papery texture on the spots of blackened dough. Compared to the other two pies, the crust in the mortadella pizza is the thickest and fluffiest.

Miss Foodie recommended Rocket Pizza to me and I’m going to use her other recommendations for our meals with Grohl. She’s been a long-time fan of Han’s in Chinatown. Grohl loves spicy Chinese food, and if Miss Foodie approves, I know Grohl will be enjoy the food too. I should start tipping Miss Foodie for her restaurant recommendations because her picks are pure gold.