Admit it. Pizza has lost a little romance over the years. Now the food of choice for college students cramming for finals and kids’ soccer game after-parties, very few pizzerias stick to the original recipes and techniques pioneered in Naples back in the 18th Century, which yielded pies with light crusts and just a few fresh toppings. But there is one spot that does it the old fashioned way, lovingly handcrafting delicious pies night after night. Pizzeria Libretto takes its pizza quite seriously, so grab your sweetheart and drop by on your next date night in Toronto to savor a pie more than 200 years in the making.
Even if you do arrive early to this cozy eatery on Ossington Avenue, there’s a good chance you’ll have to wait for a table–it’s that popular. While you wait, check out the restaurant’s modern industrial fashion, with exposed brick walls, rough-hewn wooden tables, visible beams, and hanging stainless steel light fixtures that give it a bit of a factory feel. What really catches your eye, though, are the two pizza ovens–imported from Naples, naturally–that sit right in the open so you can see the dough bubble as it bakes. Pizza Magazine’s 2013 chef of the year Rocco Agostino’s 900-degree wood-burning ovens blast pizzas into readiness in only 90 seconds, so you won’t have long to wait for your dinner.
Proper Neapolitan pizza has a golden, chewy crust, blistered and slightly charred, with a fragrant mix of garlic, basil, and oregano amid the tomatoes and cheese. Libretto should know: It proudly follows the guidelines of the Associazione Vera Pizza Napolitana, which has a mandate from the Italian government to designate true Neapolitan pizzas.
When you order, go straight to the Ontario prosciutto pizza, which is artistically decorated with thinly-sliced prosciutto, perfectly melted mozzarella, and a generous helping of basil. The rich basil scent is intoxicating when it arrives at your table, but you’re equally distracted by your date’s pick, the Libretto Margherita. Its crushed tomato adds sweetness and acidity to the white pools of Buffalo mozzarella and grana padano cheese–a delicious Italian cheese with a grainy texture–on top, and you eagerly snag a bite as soon as the cheese cools a bit. The wine list is full of intriguing Italian bottles, so you go for a Montepulciano — its dark, cherry-and-blackberry notes complement complement the savory flavours of the pizza beautifully.
Hold off on stuffing yourself completely, though — Pizzeria Libretto’s desserts are too good to pass up. Order the chocolate amaretto budino, and try out your sweetheart’s buttermilk panna cotta. Don’t forget to box up the leftover pizza on your way out. Now that you’ve had truly authentic Neapolitan pizza, nothing else will taste quite the same.