I love pizza. My friends do, too.
I’ve eaten and made many a pie, and plan on eating and making many more. Pizza is a glorious union of bread, sauce, cheese, and sometimes meat, and requires nothing more than a pair of hands and an appetite to eat. There are infinite varieties, it’s filling, and it’s fast. I’m very glad to have pizza in my life.
I believe pizza can come in all shapes and sizes, and don’t think one type needs to be pronounced the almighty and authentic. Yes it originated in Italy, and yes they make some very fine pizza there, but that doesn’t mean all Italian pizza is good, or that pizza outside of Italy can’t be phenomenal. In Italy and elsewhere, crusts can be thick or thin, and each day there are new pizza traditions born of people’s creativity and movement around the globe. As my roommate says, “it doesn’t have to be super-thin with giant blackened bubbles and a few pieces of rustically-torn basil to be good!” Neither I (nor she) believe pizza must be in the Neapolitan-style to be worthy of praise. Forget authentic – if it tastes good it’s good, and if it tastes bad it’s bad.
These are my opinions on pizza.
Now that the weather has taken a slight dip, I was forced to put on a cardigan and think about comfort food for the first time in months. Pizza’s high on my comfort-food-list, so it was time to find some.
The most well-known place in Richmond is Steveston Pizza, with its notorious $450 pie that made headlines across the world just a few months ago. I’ll definitely make my way there eventually (to try a regularly-priced item, thank you) but yesterday I wasn’t up for the trip down south. Instead I headed to Italian Tomato, a brightly-painted restaurant on Bridgeport Road that’s visible from the skytrain.
I could bike there and it had pizza on the menu, so I was set.
This was my first time in an Italian restaurant in Richmond, and honestly, I’ve been a little nervous about going to one. I used to live in Italy, and I ate a lot of good food there. As I said before, just because something’s made in Italy doesn’t mean it’s delicious, but great pizza was relatively easy to come by, and it was cheap. Pasta-wise, the typical types in the region where I lived were fresh, and aside from cheese, they’re what I miss most about the food in Parma. All of this is to say I tend not to order pasta dishes at Canadian-Italian restaurants, because I’ll probably be disappointed. So I go for pizza instead, and it all works out just great!
Italian Tomato offers a number of different kinds for $15, all on a 12″ thin crust. For $16 you can create your own, choosing three different toppings from a large list, with tomato sauce and mozzarella already included.
Because I always capitalize on opportunities for fresh vegetables, I ordered a side house salad to start, then went with the Alla Romana pizza. It had pepperoni, smokey bacon, ham, mushrooms, tomato sauce, and mozzarella.
The salad was very basic but fresh – romaine, thinly-sliced red onion, rather pale wedges of tomato, and feta, tossed in olive oil and balsamic. I do wish tomatoes that aren’t ripe just weren’t used at all, otherwise they just give all the rest of them a bad rep!
When my server brought out the pizza, I nearly shouted “BONUS POINTS!” when I saw she was carrying a bowl of grated parmesan cheese. This was for sprinkling on top, and three spoonfuls of it later, she left me to enjoy my pizza on the patio.
The pizza was a very decent size – two people with small appetites could split it – and the toppings were generous. It was meaty and cheesy, and just what I wanted after my workout. Needed the protein, after all.
The thing that wasn’t stellar was the crust; it was kind of biscuity, no chew to it and a bit crumbly. If you love a crust that’s blackened on the bottom and requires back molars to bite into, you and your molars should probably pass on this one.
This pizza wasn’t ground-breaking, but I found it to be satisfying. My roommate was also thrilled with the leftovers; bet you didn’t know my backpack was specifically designed to hold pizza boxes, did you?
While $15 for a pizza seems pretty standard these days, there were a number of items on Italian Tomato’s menu that seemed really expensive. The foccacia bread, for example, was $7.95, and while their lunch dishes are about $11 or $12, they all bump up to between $16 and $21 at dinner. If you order takeout, they take 10% off your bill.
I guess the moral of this post is this: I’m not necessarily looking for Italian restaurants to be ‘authentic,’ just tasty. And because more often than not I can achieve that by ordering pizza, I opted for it at Italian Tomato.
Unless it’s handmade, I’m not willing to pay $20 for a bowl of pasta. I can be particular, but am easy to please with meat and cheese. And these are my opinions. Thank you for listening.
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options available