May 07, 2010

Local Flavours: Pizzeria Libretto

Italy is never far from my heart - or my stomach.  I had an amazing Italian mamma with a sleight of hand and no recipe in sight.  Gnocchi, lasagna, cabbage rolls (a nod to her Istrian ancestry), muzzeto, polenta - she made it all effortlessly and we ate it thoughtlessly, thinking that everyone ate the same way.  A favourite was her weekend pizza, the dough slightly thick and chewy, homemade tomato sauce adding a delicious sweetness. 

It wasn't until years later, on my first trip to Italy, that I discovered another kind of pizza - the thin crackly crusted variety a la Napoli.  It wasn't long before wood burning pizza seemed to make an appearance everywhere that a wood-burning oven could be squeezed into a restaurant corner, most famously at Spago in Beverly Hills. 

Like any transplanted dish, the further the distance, the greater the risk of loss of authenticity.  That's why I love Pizzeria Libretto.  Chef Rocco Agostino and proprietor Max Rimaldi are committed to creating a truly genuine pizza of Neapolitan proportions.  That commitment meant an investment in a 5000lb. oven shipped from Italy, and made by a third generation oven maker from Naples.  It's a thing of beauty: the opening quite small to preserve heat, continually fed by wood to maintain the 900 degree heat required to make a beautiful pizza in 90 seconds.  
The real deal

The wood not only feeds the oven; it adds a warm and rustic touch to the restaurant
While the menu is primarily focused on pizza, there is a carefully edited selection of antipasti, including amazing warm olives, and a salumi menu offering fare from local chefs. 
Pizza is the star of the show at Libretto
I can remember the first time I had pizza with fresh greens on top.  It was at a roadside osteria in Italy, where my cousins and our family had stopped after a day in the mountains.  I remember thinking how absolutely fantastic that the mix of fresh and baked was, and Pizzeria Libretto's version does Italy proud.
Whipping up one of dozens of pizzas that will consumed by hungry and happy patrons
 The Ontario Prosciutto & Arugula: tomato, garlic, oregano, basil, and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano

Buon Appetito!

Pizzeria Libretto
Toronto, Ontario
(416) 532-800

Open daily from 12 noon to 11 pm
No reservations