NICLI ANTICA PIZZERIA – Gastown

THE ROOM:
The century old brick walls offer the perfect balance of old and new, setting the tone for a classic, yet contemporary, dining experience. Whether you sit at a table or up at the bar, I doubt your inner piggy will be able to look away from the heart and soul of this pizzeria: Nicli’s authentic wood-fire oven. Blasting at 900ºF, a first in Vancouver, this show-stopper is definitely crafting some of the best pizzas in town.

THE SERVICE:
We were lucky enough to be served by the lovely AGM, Meghan Marshall. Holy Oink does this girl know her stuff! From the extensive wine list, to the history behind the pizza, her attention to detail is simply impressive. And throughout, you can just sense that both back and front of house are dedicated to creating an authentic Neapolitan pizza experience; proud to be a part of Vancouver’s first VPN certified pizzeria.

THE FOOD:
We started our meal with the Antipasto Misto, una buona decisione! This starter sets the perfect pace for your dining experience. It reminds you that you’re there to relax, taste, share and enjoy. I thank Nicli for introducing me to both Elk and Deer salami and also serving the most beautiful Pecorino Toscano and Taleggio cheese. To further expand the Antipasti experience we added the Misto di Olive – the perfect little side dish of warm olives. The feature pizza changes daily - mine was topped with pesto, Grana Padano, fior di latte, bacon, roasted garlic, sliced rosemary potato, egg, and fresh parsley. Right out of the oven, the pizza arrived at our table hot and uncut. This serving style at Nicli ensures that the ingredients on your pizza are presented at their best. Sure I may have worked a little to cut through the soft and delicate crust but it was worth every ounce of effort. The good things in life don’t come easy, piggies, and it turns out: they don’t come pre-cut either! We finished the meal with coffee and a generous portion of Tiramisu. After such an exceptional meal, I needed both the sugar and the caffeine to roll me out the door!

THE DRINKS:
Italian wines… That’s amore! The impressive list at Nicli has something for everyone - especially those interested in sustainably farmed or Bio-dynamic wines. This piggy went with a glass of La Quercia Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo DOC 2009 and let me tell you, I’m still dreaming about this perfectly balanced organic red. Aside from vino, I suggest you explore the special selection of naturally hand crafted beers by Birrificio Brùton. The Brùton Bianca was my favourite of the bunch: a crisp and light accompaniment to the meal. And if you fancy a cocktail, all are the equivalent of “two standard drinks”; nothing to turn your snout up at!

THE COST:
Because the menu is so conducive to sharing, I think you’ll find this restaurant value priced. Salads start at $10, our generous antipasto misto (plenty for 2 pigs) goes for $20 and pizzas are around the $17 mark. There is a wine for every comfort level and $10 is a great price for their special Brùton beers. One nice thing to note for all you frugal piggies out there: a tasty glass of casa bianco or rosso is only $5. And with all of these delizioso options, what’s there not to oink about?!

Photo credits to Charles Zuckermann

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