Thursday, January 26, 2012

Restaurant Review: Lunch at Pizzeria Libretto Danforth

marinara pizza

It's no secret I love pizza.

After mac & cheese it's high up there on the comfort food list for me.

My favorite type of pizza is true Neapolitan, with San Marzano tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, cooked in a blazing hot wood-fire oven, I mean is there anything better than that?

Here in Toronto we are lucky enough to have a few places that do amazing pizza. And lucky for me two of them are in the East End.  One of our faves has been Queen Margherita Pizza. But just recently the Neapolitan Pizza that has kept West End bellies in a carb and cheese induced coma, Pizzeria Libretto, opened an East End location.

I had lunch with a friend today and convinced her that Libretto on the Danforth was where we should go. The boy and I went a few weeks ago and while we took advantage of their prix fixe lunch we added all kinds of things and had a couple beers, which completely  negated the good deal, though it was quite delicious.

Today I decided to do the prix fixe as written on the menu, because $15 for a delicious lunch and three courses is hard to beat and I also wanted to see if I was as satisfied after this meal as I was after the one with the specialty pizza and the beers.

So here's the deal with the lunch prix fixe for $15 you get a choice of the crostini or salad, the margherita or marinara pizza and a scoop of gelato or biscotti.  Not too shabby for lunch right?

First off, what's great about this is that the marinara pizza has no cheese, so it's perfect for vegans or folks who don't eat dairy, which included my lunch companion today.  She chose not to do the prix fixe, but did get the marinara pizza and made short order of it which I can only assume means it was delicious.

But on to my journey with the prix fixe. I started with the crostini which was avocado mixed with buffalo ricotta topped with speck, arugula and tomato confit.   Now I'll start with saying it was delicious, I inhaled it.  I did.  But I was a bit bummed because last time I was in the crostini option was roasted eggplant, tomatoes, olives and maybe capers topped with fresh white anchovies.  It was insanity.  It was so savory and delicious I literally dreamed about it. It was half the reason I wanted to go back.  Sadly they didn't have it today.  I guess it's not fair to sadly, since I completely enjoyed my crostini it was delicious and flavorful with the creamy ricotta avocado mixture, the smokey speck, peppery arugula and sweet tomato confit it was delicious.  Having now tried two versions of their crostini, I feel comfortable saying you won't go wrong whatever the combination is.

pizza margherita

I ordered the Margherita pizza.  It's a classic, one you can never go wrong with.  My good friend Mama Shack always orders the Margherita her first time at a new pizza place, because she feels it's the best indication of what to expect front he rest of their pizzas.  I have to say I don't usually ascribe to this (and didn't on my first trip to Libretto) but it makes sense.

Pretending I hadn't tried another pizza on another trip, if this pizza is the bar with which all of their other pizzas have to meet or exceed, I may move into Pizzeria Libretto.  Little blacked bubbles on the crust, just melted mozzarella, with slightly charred basil leaves, sauce that tastes of the summers best tomatoes all on a soft perfectly cooked crust.  It was heavenly.  Topped with their house made chili oil elevated it into another stratosphere.  I'm not a chili oil or hot pepper person on pizza, but this oil is more full of chili flavor that heat and I'm a bit in love with it. When you dine here, try your pizza straight and then try it with the chili oil, you will not be disappointed.

For dolci (dessert) I chose the biscotti because I knew they'd be good to share.  They were perfectly crisp and not too sweet, quite honestly the perfect end to the meal.  I half with I had asked if they had vin santo to dunk in to complete my trip back to Italy for some authentic food.

If it wasn't already clear, my $15 meal, $20 with tax and tip couldn't have been more satisfying and filling. I didn't feel lie I missed anything by not upgrading my pizza for $5 or having a pint of Moretti.  I have to say this might be one of the best lunch deals in town.  I'm sure there are cheaper lunch deals, but for the quantity and quality of food I challenge you to show me something better.

Pizzeria Libretto
550 Danforth Ave

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