Nicli Antica Pizzeria
62 East Cordova Street Vancouver, BC V6A 1K2 (604) 669-6985
Tastiness Factor: 5/5
Locavore Approved? YES- although their flour and some of their staples are imported from Europe for authenticity sake, many of their meats are made in-house from local meats and they offer seasonal items made with local ingredients
After my recent trip to St. John's to visit my parents, they are now returning the favor and paying me a visit here in Vanny (so great to have them!!!).
My mother is a huge pizza fan and my parents go to their local St. John's favorite pizza joint, Pi, on an almost weekly basis. They have also visited the new Piatto Pizzaria in St. John's which has been awared the Verra Pizza Napoletana.
Because they are such pizza fans, I knew that I had to take them to Nicli to try their delicious pies. My husband have been there multiple times and have never been let down (see my review on Urbanspoon from last year).
The outside of Nicli is quite unassuming but the inside is very "clean" looking with mostly white decor. Very sharp. It is a very friendly space, always abuzz with many happy pizza-eating diners. How can you not be bursting with excitement while eating pizza this good???
At the very back of the restaurant is the open kitchen that houses the star of the show, their 900 degree wood fire pizza oven that cooks pizzas in just 90 seconds.
The kitchen is also home to a lovely little herb garden, guaranteeing the very freshest basil and arugula you can get. Love it!!!
Because we had learned on previous visits that there is often a wait to be seated (no resos allowed), we had planned in advance to go to the nearby Irish Heather Pub to get a drink. Before doing so, we dropped over to Nicli to get our names on the list. I was excited to learn of their new texting service, wherby you give them your cell number and they text when your table is ready. Not only that, but they send you an inital link via text that you ca use to see the status of your table and how many are ahead of you to be seated. Genius!
Service is friendly and unpretentious. Our server was knowledgeable about the ingredients and was obviously passionate about the food they produced. She was very helpful with menu selection.
Now onto the best part, the food:)
We shared two appies for the table. The first was the Antipasti Misto, a selection of house-made and imported meats and cheeses, veg and bread. It changes up nightly based on what is fresh and seasonal. They also add special meats and cheeses that are imported from Italy. On this particular rendition, there was a lovely fontina cheese, Italian and French salamis, house-pickled mushrooms, roasted red peppers, artichoke and anchovy, served with a side of bread. A great sharing appie to suit all tastes. The parts are all very simple and therefore perfect executed was a must- and these guys nailed it.
The second starter we shared was the Insalata, made simply with crisp romaine and and fresh tomatoes, and dressed with olive oil and balsamic. Again, simple yet delicious.
Now onto the pizzas. Their crust is quite unique. Crispy and charred on the edges, soft and doughy in the middle. It is served uncut and meant to be eaten with your hands (the chewy center makes it quite a challenge to cut!). The pizzas are served straight out of the oven so the crust maintains its intended consistency.
The special pizza tonight was their usual Diavolo (pomodoro, fior de latte, sopresetta, basil and chili oil) with the addition of roasted red pepper. My father and husband both opted for this one. They loved the spicy meat and the added kick of the chili oil.
My mom chose the Margherita (pomodoro, grana padano, fior de latte and basil) from the Classic part of the menu. Great ingredients, plain and simple.
Finally, I chose the Pesto from the Contemporary section (pesto, olives, capers, tomatoes, fior de latte) and topped it with that beautiful fresh arugula picked right from the plant in the kitchen (yummmm….). I loved the pesto as a base, especially with the saltiness of the capers and olives in top. I did not leave one bite.
Although there have been many new pizza joints open after Nicli's initial success, one can argue that Nicli is still in the #1 spot. Others may rival them based on pies alone (Farina, Novo), they still have the bext overall package- great atmosphere, top-notch service and mouth-watering starters to round out the menu.
Thanks for showing my parents such great Vancouver hospitality!