Oh Pizza Libretto, how do I love thee? Let me count how many times I have eaten in your hallowed halls in the last month...
Okay, maybe I don't really want to see an actual count seeing that I have just come from enjoying a wonderful lunch at this establishment. We can start with the fact that my pants are presently all too tight and go from there. I have finally wised up and now I don't order myself a pizza every time anymore. I share a pizza with the boys or they each get one and I have a little slice of each and then I indulge in something else. Sometimes it's the spicy meatballs - all velvet textured and covered in a spicy bomba that actually gives the prerequisite kick that allows it to call itself spicy. I hate ordering something that claims to be spicy only to find myself asking for a bowl of chili flakes after the first bite but these little balls of meaty love deliver.
Sometimes it's the arugula salad with pear and walnuts in all of it's refreshing, peppery deliciousness. If I feel like I need a bit more heft, I might go with the porchetta that sits on a nice little toast that is covered in chinotto bbq sauce that I would happily brush my teeth with, more peppery arugula, some little pickled onions and some chili for my always appreciated kick of heat. If I am feeling like I really need to go light, I go for the carpaccio - sliced so thin that the first time I saw it I thought they were beet slices cut on a mandolin - it was dark and it was a couple seats over and I am old and I don't always see all that well. The meat is tender and buttery and melts in your mouth and I really love the pesto like herby oil. Its weird to say that raw beef is the lightest dish to choose but it really is.
The Kid likes the calamari and luckily, he usually shares.
|the buttermilk calamri with romesco sauce|
Don't get me started on the pizzas. Oh okay, I will start on the pizzas.
Their crust is so chewy and thin, with little burnt bits here and there and so much flavour. Too many thin crust pizzas are either soggy or almost like matzo crackers or , in the worst case, cardboard but this crust manages to stay real soft with great chew - it helps that they cook it at 800F for only 90 seconds I guess.
They could serve up just the naked crust like a naan and I would eat it dipped in their addictive flavoured chili oil as an app but all of the toppings are so fabulous, why would you do that? You know what? You are right. Forget I ever suggested it.
Between the three of us we have ate our way through the pizza menu. The first time we went , Shack and I split a Margherita D.O.P because, to me anyway, that is the base line. It's like going for dim sum and not starting with har gow and sui mai - if they can't do those two things well, there is no point ordering more treats frankly. Clearly, we were thrilled with our margherita or I wouldn't be writing this little review.
My next favourite is the Nudja Sausage with this spicy sausage, garlic, oregano, basil, mozzarella and stracciatella cheese. Again, the advertised spicy sausage IS spicy and everything just works. I have also had the House Made Sausage pizza and although tasty, I much prefer the Nudja, although nobody seems to really know how to pronounce it and each server has put his or her own spin on the word. I am happy to just point and grunt.
Shack seems to favour the Cremeni Mushroom pizza and the kid sticks with the Margherita DOP because he doesn't see the need to mess with simple perfection and he does have a point. The only pizza I wouldn't order again was the eggplant pizza. It had no tomato sauce and the eggplant itself was kind of dry so the overall effect was a dry pizza without a ton of zip or flavour.
All of the other pizzas on the list are delicious and I would happily eat any of them.
The wine list is nice and not too expensive and I have enjoyed the different house cocktails I have tried. A really nice touch is the bottomless glass bottle of carbonated water for a few dollars. It's so nice to be able to drink as much as I want without the sting of seeing 3 bottles of Mineral water at $7 bucks a pop and realizing that I could have paid for my entire lunch with the money we spent on fizzy water.
Yes, if you go in the evening between, say, 7 to 9:30, you are going to wait a while for a table. The good news is that Pizza Libretto now takes reservations so if you plan ahead a bit, you can still eat there at a good time on a good night. It's never all that crowded at lunch as long as you don't go right at noon and with the great $15 special for salad, a margherita DOP and a bit of dessert, it's almost a better time to try it out anyway. We have had really great service every time and it got us through a very tough couple of weeks when my father in law was dying and we just didn't have the energy to think about food - it was one of the only places we all felt like eating at during that time as well, which says a lot about the quality of the food, the atmosphere and general comfort level of a place which manages to be hip and trendy and cosy and neighbourhoody all at the same time.
Now, if only the restaurant would also provide me with a few new pairs of pants to tide me over while I attempt to adapt my new, ramped up exercise regime to accommodate all of this pizza.
550 Danforth Rd