Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pizzeria Libretto

221 Ossington Avenue
Toronto, ON
M6J 2Z8
(416) 532-8000; follow on Twitter @PizzaLibretto
Chef: Rocco Agostino
Appetizers $5-10; pizzas $10-18; 4-course summer prix fixe $25

Was it the best pizza I've ever had in my life before? No. Was it one of the most freshest tasting for a great price? Yes.

I was skeptical about Libretto. All the raving and the moaning and the oohs and ahhs. I get it. It's good. But the no-reservation policy? The line-up for an hour? Not so good. But the wine helped. And in the end, it was worth the wait. I generally liked the place though. Communal dining tables, chalkboard menus, huge open wood-fire burning oven in the back for zapping the pizzas to a perfect 90-second blistering Napalese-style finish. Yes. I liked. My only problem was the noise level -- way, way loud. Not the place to go if you're looking to have a real conversation with someone.

First time, I split the $25 summer prix fixe of bruschetta, heirloom tomato caprese salad, wild mushroom pizza and blueberry panna cotta. My dining partner was vegetarian. It was a lot of food and great for sharing, although the three other people in our group had a prix fixe to each person and polished their plates without a problem. But like I said at the beginning: not the best pizza of my life but everything was so goddamn fresh. And the thin, charred-on-the-outside, foldable crust may have been my favourite part. (Plus chili oil. I wonder if Libretto makes its own chili oil? If not, it should. It's dead easy to do.)

Second time, with two other friends, we got the $25 prix fixe, but chose the duck confit pizza and strawberries with sabayon instead. And we also ordered a margherita a la carte to share. I loved the traditional marg. I think margs show the true colours of a pizzeria -- if you master the simplicity of tomatoes, basil and mozz, you're good in my books.

But I absolutely adored the duck confit pizza -- succulent shreds of duck meat, sweet caramelized bosc pear slices and ooey-gooey Ontario mozzarella.

The bruschetta and caprese were satisfying but forgettable. I do like that Libretto is all about using locally sourced ingredients though instead of some bullshit attitude about how true Naples pizza is only true if you rack up your carbon miles by sourcing from Italy. People, the reason why Naples pizza is so good is because they use the freshest ingredients that travel very few miles and was made right in their own backyards. Get it? Good.

There was lots of Twitter rave about the panna cotta but I like Terroni's panna cotta better. Libretto's was a little too wobbly for my tastes. I did very much like the sabayon -- a simple, creamy, Prosecco-infused sweet treat to end the meal.

Rating (out of five stars): ***1/2


Anonymous said...

Totally agree. Still haven't found a place that has anything on Terroni's panna cotta.

yasmin said...

nice review. i would agree, it was good good pizza, but not the best i've ever had either. but i liked everything over all so much (there was a lot to like) that it's in my good books.