Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Love for Pizzeria Libretto

If you know me in real life, you should know the following: 1) One of my favorite restaurants in Toronto is Pizzeria Libretto, 2) I must order the Duck Confit pizza when I'm there, 3) I must also order a charcuterie plate when I'm there, and finally  4) This is the only restaurant where I have never ordered dessert or felt the urge to order dessert (I've been there 4 times), because I'm just that satisfied with my main meal - this is extremely rare. If you didn't know all that, that's okay, you've learned something new about me today =)

Pizzeria Libretto is located in a funky / hip Portuguese neighborhood at the intersection of Ossington and Dundas. The restaurant often gets rave reviews from magazines; it was placed 8th in enRoute's Top 10 Restaurants in Canada for 2009.  I'm pretty sure that Pizzeria Libretto is mentioned in many so-and-so's "top lists" but I just don't have time to find them all for you here.  

Before I go on posting pictures, I have to thank my foodie friend Cindy for introducing me to this place. Although she moved to Toronto from Calgary only a year ago, she has shown me so many cool places to go eat (including Black Hoof). Actually I think she's the one who turned me into the foodie that I am today! Before meeting her, I wouldv'e never imagined having my own food blog.

So what's so cool about Pizzeria Libretto? First of all, it has the distinction of having imported Toronto's first real Neapolitan pizza oven! It's a 2,000-kilogram stone behemoth that burns wood and can heat up to 900 degrees F, producing a thin, crispy, blistered crust, with bubbles of charred dough here and there. All pizzas are done within 90 seconds in the oven; it was specifically hand built for the restaurant by a 3rd generation pizza oven maker in Naples. Pretty impressive, huh?

Secondly, I love the atmosphere there. It is fun, bright, loud, and lively - not pretentious or uptight at all. Cindy and I even chatted up with a couple sitting next to us at the bar once. Everyone dining there just gives off a really happy vibe. I don't think I'm explaining this well need to go there to understand and experience it yourself .

Before we get to the pizzas, lets talk appetizers! Each time I go, I must order the charcuterie there - their current selection of salumi is extraordinary:
  • Grant's (Black Hoof)
  • Mark's (Cowbell)
  • Mama's (House-made)
  • Rocco's Duck Prosciutto (House-made)
  • Niagara Prosciutto

This is the Grand Tasting, where all meats mentioned on the list are served with condiments. The condiments are paired really well.

My second favorite appetizer is the bruschetta, topped with the chef's daily creations. Each piece is different, and who knows, you may never get the same toppings there ever again! When the waiter brings over the bruschetta, he/she would explain what each piece is, but I never remember what they are afterwards because I get distracted and wish he/she would just go away so I can eat them ASAP.

I actually had the "Buttermilk Calamari" as an appetizer too the first time I was at the restaurant, but I don't think I took a picture of it. I wasn't much of a foodie back then because nowadays, I would even take pictures of complimentary bread.  Anyway, I remember the calamari was quite delicious too, and definitely unlike other dry, over-fried, over-battered, calamari appetizers at some other places.

Now...on to the pizzas! 

Duck Confit, Bosc pear, Panna, Ontario Fiore Di Latte Mozzarrella. 

House-made sausage, Caramelized onion, Ontario Fiore Di Latte Mozzarella, Chili oil

Hot peppers, Tomato, House-made sausage, Ontario Fiore Di Latte Mozzarella

Vedura (season local green), Goat cheese, Black olives, Ontario Fiore Di Latte Mozzarella

I love pizzas. I mean, I really do. I can devour probably 3 to 4 slices of pizza within minutes. Whether or not its from Pizza Pizza, Pizza Hut, Mama's Pizza, I love it all the same (okay, maybe not all the same, I alter my standards/expectations respectively). But the pizzas at Pizzeria Libretto is something else - they are on a whole different and higher, much higher, level. The unique toppings they use, the fresh cheeses / meats they feature daily, the thin yet crispy crust which can only result from pizzas baked in that special wood burning oven , the sauce made  from fresh tomatoes brought in daily - all these factors make their pizza so...DIVINE. And because it is just that divine, I slow myself down considerably (usually a very hard to thing to do) to enjoy every bite of it (even using a knife and fork!) instead of gulping it down like a mad woman who hasn't seen food in a week.  I know, I know, I shouldn't be comparing take-out pizza to pizza from a pizzeria like Libretto...but I felt I needed to make that point just so you know how serious I am about this place =)

So, go already! A warning though, Pizzeria Libretto doesn't take reservations, and it can get extremely packed there even on week nights. Make sure you go early if you don't want to wait. I usually go around 5pm. If you do go, let me know after what you think. And if you think their pizzas are not as good as I claim them to be, tell me another place with better pizza. I won't be hurt haha, I promise, because at the end of the day, all I want is to eat good food! ^_^

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