Over the past year, the authentic Italian pizza scene in Vancouver has really taken off. There have been about half a dozen new thin-crust pizzerias that have surfaced with another couple more set to open in the coming months. Located in Gastown, Nicli Antica Pizzeria was the first authentic Neapolitan-style pizzeria to open up and the only pizzeria in Vancouver currently to be certified with the Associazion Verace Pizza Napoletana. In order to maintain the Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN) status, the restaurant has to adhere to the strict guidelines of the Associazion Verace Pizza Napoletana. This is not the first restaurant I’d been to that had the VPN certification. Several years back when Ristorante Pulcinella first opened in Calgary, it too had the VPN certification. I’m not sure what has happened but Ristorante Pulcinella is no longer listed as a member of the Associazion Verace Pizza Napoletana. In any case, out of all the new Neapolitan-style pizzerias that have popped up, I decided that I wanted to check out Nicli on my recent trip to Vancouver as I wanted to see what authentic Neapolitan-style pizza was all about since I had tried Ristorante Pulcinella several years ago during my pre-foodie days.
My friend C and I wanted a light lunch and decided to share the Prosciutto e Rucola ($19). This pizza was topped with pomodoro sauce, parmigiano, fior di latte, prosciutto crudo, and arugula. What makes the pizzas at Nicli authentic Neapolitan is that they are formed by hand and cooked in a 900 F wood-fired oven for about 90 seconds. This helps to create a light and fluffy, yet crunchy cornicione (crust) with blacked blisters and a slightly soft thin center. This pizza was indeed delicious! The center was thin and soft with the cheese perfectly melted as authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas should be. The blistered crust was light and crispy with a bit of chewiness. We were given two bottles of infused olive oils to garnish our pizza with – one was a chili-infused olive oil and the other rosemary-infused olive oil. My favourite was the rosemary-infused olive oil as I found it really helped to enhance the flavours in the pizza.
There is no doubt this pizza was well executed. The crust was perfectly crispy and chewy and has the leoparding (leopard-spotting) that the pizza aficionados look for in a well-made pie. The ingredients were definitely really fresh. Overall, this was definitely one of the better thin-crust pizzas that I’ve had in Vancouver. I wouldn’t say this is necessarily the most memorable thin-crust pizza that I’ve ever had but I think it’s more of a personal preference as I don’t think that authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas are necessarily my favourite. I think I’m more of a fan of the Neapolitan-inspired pizzas such as those from Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco or Apizza Scholls in Portland, Oregon. For those that seek out truly authentic Neapolitan-style pizza, Nicli Pizzeria would be the place to hit.
Nicli Antica Pizzeria
62 East Cordova