- The Entree:
- The Atmosphere:
- The Service:
Feeling hungry? Are you down for some late night pizza? Yes please! The chatter and hype surrounding Little Italy’s hottest pizza joint was getting too loud to ignore and I soon gave in to finally trying Pizzeria Libretto. Located out in Little Italy at the intersection of Ossington and Dundas West, this small restaurant was quite troublesome to get to but delivered an overall great experience. Pizzeria Libretto served Neapolitan pizza – its website claiming to “be loyal to what real pizza is”. Libretto cooks its pizzas at 900 degrees Farenheit, or 480 degrees Centigrade, in a wood-burning oven hand crafted from Naples, Italy. This extreme heat level delivers a fresh thin-crust pizza ready in 90 seconds flat. I was a bit sceptical at first because just a few weeks ago, I tried Neapolitan pizza at another restaurant in Toronto and it was put together in a sloppy manner where the crust and outer edges were cooked, but the centre of the pizza was runny and a bit slimy, likely due to poorly-controlled cooking temperatures. Fingers were crossed this time around for Pizzeria Libretto – it is after all, certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association in Italy. Just to check this out, I went to the VPN website and indeed Libretto was on the list of members. I also skimmed the website and noted that there is an extensive qualification process and examinations to be approved, and members are subject to regulations and obligations set by the organization. Quite intense, if you ask me…
221 Ossington Avenue
Toronto, ON M6J 2Z8
Moving along, we arrived at the restaurant at 9:30pm in hopes that the young and hip crowd of Little Italy would refrain from eating too many calories and carbohydrates later at night. Wrong. Libretto was packed with people. We left our name and number so when a table cleared up, our phone would ring. This method of lining up your customers is commendable – it reduced the congestion in the actual restaurant, considering the restaurant was quite small, and also allowed people to cross the street for a quick coffee instead of physically waiting in line. Two birds with one stone! Our 30-minute wait ended up only being 15 minutes and we happily returned to our table near the open kitchen. The first impression of Libretto was stylish, trendy, and friendly – from the bartenders to the servers, everyone was uniformed with a branded black t-shirt and a smile. The clientele was mainly young, urban professionals aged 20 – early 40’s I’d say. People were genuinely entrenched in their conversations, eating their pizza and having a great time. The vibe was energetic and genuine.
Our server greeted us with a bottle of still water, and she continued to check up on us every 5 minutes or so. The website claimed Libretto only served purified Toronto water and carbonated filtered water, nothing from a plastic bottle. This tiny gesture to remain green and environmentally friendly put a smile on my face. It’s good to know that as I stuffed my face with pizza and pepperoni, Mother Nature was not getting stuffed in the face with a plastic bottle. Good work, Libretto! (Totally random facts – the kitchen grease is recycled as biodiesel fuel, and the restaurant is powered by wind and water!) After a while of soaking in the atmosphere, we finally decided on two pizzas: the Daily Special and the Duck Confit.
As we waited 90 seconds for our pizza to come, we were provided with complimentary bread with olive oil and vinegar. I appreciate a restaurant that serves delicious bread prior to the main meal, and Libretto did not disappoint. The bread was fresh and lightly-processed, delivering a chewy crust and crumb. I love my bread.
The VPN pizzas did indeed come as a quick turn-around; I barely finished my bread! I started off with the Daily Special. The pizza was true to its name, aesthetically served with a delicious thin crust and generous portions. Ingredients included pineapple, hot peppers, basil, mozzarella cheese, chilli, spinach and speck. My favourite element was the hot peppers that added a kick to each bite! The saltiness of the speck, sweetness from the pineapple, and spiciness of the peppers all combined into an incredible swirl of flavours in one bite. It felt like a party in my mouth… literally. It may be a bit much for people who prefer a more toned-down pizza, because this Daily Special was very “in your face”. Taking in each bite was like chewing a piece of gum – each bite released even more flavour than before. After I swallowed the pizza, the leftover bits and pieces on my tongue was enough for me to sit back and enjoy. Amazing!
Our Duck Confit, a popular choice amongst regular customers, fared differently and contrasted widely with the Daily Special. The colouring was simple, featuring shades of brown and white. Nothing fancy for a white mozzarella pizza. The duck meat was coupled with slices of bosc pear, which would have made a fantastic lightly-flavoured subtle pizza. However I found the pizza slightly overcooked, with the duck being dry possibly attributable to the intense heat from the 900 degree Fahrenheit oven. In any case, the thin and light flavour of the toppings allowed the underlying taste of dough to seep through. This would be the perfect pizza for someone looking for a simple, less-bold dish. No matter what pizza you are looking for – the bold or the simple – Libretto’s dough is top notch.
Pizzeria Libretto lived up to its hype. Aside from the fantastic pizza (that truly deserves the VPN certification), I commend the atmosphere and vibe. The wall of throwback vintage photos hanging from the walls, the wall tiles, plus the fancy string lights hanging from the ceilings combined to form a charming place for Saturday night catch-up with friends and family. Regular customers and new visitors obviously agree with me as people from all over the city pour in even at 10:30pm to snag a bite of a Libretto pizza before closing time at 11:00pm. This is an obvious indication that Libretto lives up to its hype, and continues to draw the crowds. As long as it keeps doing what it’s doing, I, along with everyone else, will keep coming back for more real Neapolitan pizza!
The Damage: $45 after tax and tip