Pie’za Pizzeria opened a little over a year ago in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a picturesque town and top tourist destination in Ontario. The restaurant was once a house and has been converted for commercial use. It’s a fitting location for a pizzeria that serves homestyle fare, namely Neapolitan pizza.
The Pie’za name is a reflection of this too. Even though it works with pie (as in pizza pie) and ‘za (slang for pizza), it’s really the colloquial pronunciation of paesano (paesà) that truly reflects the pizzeria’s ethos. The definition of paesano is “fellow countryman” but it also means “rustic, homey and genuine”.
This ethos is apparent in Pie’za Pizzeria’s menu as it follows the principles of the Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN) movement, namely the use of certain types of ingredients, approved equipment and the traditional method of making pizza. Pie’za Pizzeria’s own version of Napoletana pizza includes specific ingredients such as Italian ‘00’ flour, San Marzano tomatoes and fior di latte (mozzarella cheese made from cow’s milk), a custom-made wood-fired oven from Naples and a trained/certified pizzaiolo (pizza chef). The dough is handmade daily using purified mineral water, single variety yeast and sea salt with a 24-hour natural fermentation process.
This background is all well and good but Pie’za Pizzeria really delivered on our visit. From the ease of booking through their website to the friendly service, it was a great experience from beginning to end. We sat at a lovely table by the window and took in the ambience with its colourful walls, interesting art, vibrant plates and even traditional good luck charms like the roguish figure Pulcinella and the corno (red horn) to ward off the evil eye. If you look closely at Pie’za Pizzeria’s logo, that little red horn serves as the apostrophe. Other playful details included a poster of Sophia Loren and the staff’s Straight Outta Napoli t-shirts.
As our starter, the three of us shared the Antipasto Paisano for 4 featuring Provolone cheese, artichokes, olives, tomatoes, rocket, cured meats (salami and prosciutto) and fresh focaccia. We gobbled up every last morsel.
Paulo enjoyed a craft beer from Oast House Brewers, a local brewery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. He said it was excellent.
The menu, divided into Red (with tomato sauce) and White (without tomato sauce) pizzas, featured a variety of tantalising options. I love San Marzano tomatoes so I chose the Za Pietro pizza with tomato sauce, fior di latte mozzarella, spicy sausage, red onions and mushrooms.
The boys (husband and son) both chose La Spie’za – Meat Lovers Dream pizza with tomato sauce, fior di latte mozzarella, ‘nduja (spicy, spreadable sausage), spicy soppressata salami and mild pepperoni. Some chilli peppers were served on the side for those craving an extra kick. The toppings on our pizzas were delicious; some locally sourced and others imported from Italy when unavailable in the region.
It’s the crust that makes Neapolitan pizza truly unique and this is where Pie’za Pizzeria excelled. The crust was thin and soft with good chew and plenty of flavour. (The crust isn’t meant to be thick or super thin like other pizzas). The pizza was cooked at a high temperature so the crust bubbled up and was charred in some spots (that doesn’t mean it was burnt). The edges of the crust formed that all important cornicione rim. Their pizza, true to Neapolitan tradition, had a wet centre… a hot, soggy area in the middle where the succulent toppings came together when the crust was cut into. This is why Neapolitan pizzas are served uncut, so this flavour aspect doesn’t get compromised. Some people might find fault in the molten area but this is a characteristic of authentic Napoletana pizza.
We attempted to end our meal with dessert but after we ordered their strawberry sweet n sour special we were told that it wasn’t available. That left us with the choice of Nutella tiramisù which we declined as we both don’t like this hazelnut chocolate spread and my son is allergic to nuts. Paulo enjoyed an expertly brewed espresso in a charming Bialetti cup.
Pie’za Pizzeria is a wonderful addition to Niagara-on-the-Lake and definitely worth seeking out for some of the best Napoletana pizza. A lot of passion has gone into creating an atmosphere and menu remaining true to Naples. Like Dean Martin sang, “when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.”
The owners, managers or staff did not invite me to visit this establishment and were unaware that my experience would be the basis of a written review. It is based on my experience at my own cost and I did not receive compensation for my review.
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