Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Brunch at Verace pizzeria

assortment of flavoured olive oils - great for dipping your pizza crusts!!
Another brunch date with one of my bestest :)

I LOVE cafe nervosa from Toronto.  More specifically, the prociutto e rucola from cafe nervosa.  In my search of those neapolitan style pizzas ("style" because I don't exactly dig authenticity) in Vancouver, I have stumbled upon Verace pizzeria.  They've got their own stone oven and located just steps away from stadium Chinatown skytrain stationn, it was a perfect spot for our little brunch! 

Mista Insalate (Sm - $6.75, Lg - $12.75) - Mixed greens, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes and roasted peppers tossed with balsamic vinaigrette, topped with pancetta crisp - 4/5
We arrived on a Thursday early afternoon around 1:30 pm and the place was pretty empty - only 2 tables were occupied and by the time we left the restaurant, it was completely empty.  After we were greeted and seated by the friendly server (who also appeared to be the manager), we asked for water and were given option of either still or sparkling - both for free!  Both Helen and I are not big fans of sparkling water so we opted for still but if you are a sparkling fan and have always hesitated to order in restaurants because some places can charge up to $6~$7 / 750mL, this is your chance! (my Cheap Chinese mind set is talking right now, anyhow...)

I already knew what I wanted to order and Helen made up her mind pretty quickly too.  We both wanted salad so we also decided to order a salad to start.

First to arrive was the Insalate Mista.  It was a HUGE salad with plethora of fresh butter and romaine lettuce, red and yellow peppers and cherry tomatoes.  The zesty and savoury pickled artichoke heart went nice with the crunchy leaves and the garlicky and tangy vinaigrette. I liked the idea of using pancetta crisp instead of crispy bacon because this version was less oily (possibly because it was dried then salt cured).  Over all it was a zesty salad but was really refreshing.  We both enjoyed it very much.                                                                                 

Prosciutto e Rucola - $17.25 - Plum tomato sauce, fior di latte mozzarella topped with prosciutto, fresh arugula, grana padano and evoo - 3/5
      Next up was my prosciutto e rucola.  When I was presented with the dish, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of arugula they piled up on to this pizza since arugula is one of my favourite green leafy veggies!  I just love its peppery, nutty flavour. (who am I kidding, what leafy veggies do I NOT like....?)  The crust looked great with the leoparding and it held up to the moisture from the sauce and everything else above.
After I dug in, indeed the crust was light yet chewy.  The sauce was more tangy than zesty, possibly due to the nature of the plum tomatoes (or added sugar during the sauce making) but when combined with the savoury prosciutto and nutty arugula, the flavours were well balanced and the tanginess really cut through the richness from the fat of prosciutto pieces as well as the creamy mozzarella and grana padano cheeses. 
However, I was not very happy with the prosciutto.  It could have been that we went on a bad day and that particular batch of prosciutto happened to be made from a pig with extremely stringy fat or they use lower quality prosciutto ( I really REALLY hope it's the former) - the prosciutto pieces were SO stringy and tough to chew that I had to spit most of it out, it was almost inedible.  Sadly, this place was not comparable to Cafe Nervosa's Prosciutto e Rucola.  Not just because of its rubber like prosciutto, but also the flavour.  I guess it's not always "more the better" even when it comes to veggies!  I found the flavour of arugula over powering everything else on that pizza and, please... use Parmigiano-Reggiano instead of grana padano?... It really would make a difference!
Funghi - $17.50 - Mushroom cream, cipollini balsamic onions, mixed crimini, portabella, and oyster mushrooms.  Topped with oregano, grana padano and evoo - 4.5/5

Our last pizza was Funghi, Helen's order.  
What a surprise!  This pizza was literally a flavour explosion of earthy crimini and portabella mushrooms.  The mushroom cream was garlicky and the balsamic cipollini onions were sweet and savoury and slightly tangy.  The slight bitterness of oregano was perfect to balance out all the creamy, earthy, richness of the toppings.  - 0.5 point for grana padano instead of  Parmigiano-Reggiano.  For the price of this pizza, it shouldn't be a problem to use parmigiano instead!  The flavour is richer and more complex!  

The flavoured olive oils were wonderful to dip the pizza crust.  I actually liked the garlic one the most!  The original was not bad either, but I just couldn't pick up too much red chili pepper from the chili pepper one so... that was my least favourite. 

Over all, we both enjoyed our dining experience here and we'd definitely come back for more yummies!!  (just no more prosciutto e rucola)

Final Verdict:

Food - 3.5/5
Service - 4/5 - friendly and tentative service!
Ambiance - 3.5/5 - depends on the occasion, not exactly a romantic spot (located right beside T&T supermarket so you tell me....? but still quite nice/ spacious)


Pick up your "groupon now" deal ($10 for $20) before you head in!!

Verace Pizzeria Napoletana and Enoteca on Urbanspoon

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