Novo Pizzeria & Wine Bar

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I was delighted to be invited by EatMarketing to a sponsored tasting event at Novo Pizzeria. I was joined by a few food bloggers and foodies: James from HelloVancity, Mr. from VanFoodies, Janice from GoodEat, Bret, Tess, and Mercedes.

I have only tried Neopolitan pizza once before at Marcello Pizzeria. I always prefer eating crispy thin-crusted pizza, so I was pretty excited to try what Novo had to offer.

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Antipasti Platter (small $14/ large $25): daily selection of vegetables, salumi, and cheese

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Burrata Cheese Plate ($13): arugula, oven dried tomatoes, olive oil

From the appetizer plates, I tried the bread and the burrata cheese. The burrata was interesting because it had mozzarella taste but it was as soft as cream cheese. The bread was unique, though I have mixed feelings about it being crispy and chewy at the same time.

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Aperol Spriz ($9): aperol, aprosecco, strawberry, rhubarb bitters, lemon zest

This cocktail tasted more like a cranberry cocktail due to its acidity. I wished it was sweeter and had more strawberry taste.

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Golden Beet Salad ($13): hazelnuts, goat cheese, blackberry vinaigrette

I really enjoyed this salad, especially the hazelnuts and beets.  The beets had the right taste – not too sour or sweet.  I also liked the generous portion of this dish.

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Sicilian Meat Balls ($8): currants, pine nuts, reggiano, marinara

These meatballs were really good! I liked the salad a lot but I liked the meat balls even more. They were moist and the texture was just right – not too soft or hard. The addition of currants in the meatballs was pretty interesting. Compared to the meatballs from Glowbal, I liked the meatballs from Novo a lot more. I normally don’t order meatballs, but I totally would during my next visit. If you liked my Facebook page, you would know how to take advantage of Novo’s FREE meatballs promotion. 😉

After the appetizers, our group shared 5 of Novo’s thin-crust pizza.

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Margherita Pizza ($13): fiore di latte (Mozzarella), tomato sauce, basil

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Burrata Pizza ($18): burrata, fiore di latte (Mozzarella), olive oil, basil

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Funghi Pizza ($17): truffled mushrooms, fontina

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Diavallo Pizza ($16): hot capicola, onions, chili flakes

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Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza ($18): prosciutto, arugula, reggiano, fiore di latte

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I tried the Margherita, Funghi, and Burrata Pizza. My favourite was the funghi because mushroom is one of my favourite foods. The others seemed to like the Burrata pizza a lot but I actually liked the pizza with tomato sauce more, since I’m not too crazy about cheese.

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I was expecting the pizza to be crispy because the first time I ate Naples-style thin crust pizza, the pizza was crispy. I found Novo’s pizza really chewy. I’ve only had Neopolitan pizza twice so I can’t say which one is more authentic. Because the pizza was chewy, I felt like I was eating a lot of dough.

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Next we had a special dish – Orichiette: in-house Italian sausage, swiss chard, fennel pollen, and toasted bread crumbs.

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I was surprised to find myself liking the Orecchiette a lot more than the pizza. The pasta was al dente, and the ingredients altogether made this dish very tasty. It was one of the best pasta I’ve had in Vancouver because it was unique and flavourful. Usually I find pasta with sausage pretty oily, but this dish was not oily at all. Surprisingly, I would be very happy to eat just the Orecchiette and no pizza at all (actually, maybe just the Funghi pizza).

Vincent from EatMarketing told me that fennel pollen is the third most expensive spice next to Saffron and Cardamon. It’s very rare, plus it’s expensive in Vancouver. It is also responsible for part of the complex flavours that came through in the pasta.

The owner showed us the secret ingredient and I tasted a little of this funnel pollen. I wouldn’t have noticed the pollen if I wasn’t told about it, but then maybe it was the spice that made the pasta so delicious.

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After the main dishes, I was ready to try the desserts as I had been looking forward to trying the nutella calzone.

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First I had the tiramisu. Although the tiramisu was small in portion, I could taste its coffee-soaked layers and creamy mascarpone. It was different than the tiramisu from Cosca because the one from Cosca was drier. I prefer Novo’s wet and creamy tiramisu. Some people like that this is not too sweet. I liked this tiramisu but my favourite tiramisu comes with fancy things like chocolate drizzles or biscotti on the side.

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When the panna cotta was served, I was amazed by its huge size!  Compared to pudding-like panna cotta I tried before, Novo’s panna cotta had a really dense gelatin-y texture. It was almost like Taiwanese pudding, but even denser. I couldn’t taste the vanilla but I liked that there were vanilla seeds in the panna cotta.

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Finally, I tried the Nutella calzone. The item sounded pretty good, although I wouldn’t say it was my favourite dessert of the night. First, this dish was too sweet because of the thick nutella. The calzone had the identical dough as the pizza. Because of the chewy dough, there was too much richness in this dish. What I liked was the addition of nuts in the filling. However, it would have been better if the filling was a bit thinned out and if the calzone came in individual pizza pocket, because the calzone pieces were too big and hard to cut.

The whipped cream was freshly made so some people really liked it. I tasted a little although I don’t like to eat whipped cream. It was really thick, unlike any other whipped cream I tried. I thought it was too rich to eat it with the nutella calzone though.

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I was glad to have the chance to try Novo’s pizza while having a good time with other foodies and bloggers. I feel I need to try Neopolitan pizza at other restaurants to get a sense of the true taste of Neopolitan pizza. I liked Novo’s ambiance with its open kitchen and artisan ovens. It was pretty cool to see pizza being cooked in a 900°F oven.

  • Ambiance
  • Favourite dishes: Orecchiette, panna cotta, and meat balls
  • Great service

  • I expected crispy thin crusts, but the pizza was rather chewy
  • I can hardly understand the menu since my Italian food vocab is pretty limited. That also means I need more research/education on Italian cuisine.
  • There were too few meat options for pizza, but perhaps that’s what Italian cuisine is like?

Novo Pizzeria and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Novo Pizzeria and Wine Bar
2118 Burrard Street, Vancouver

http://www.novopizzeria.com/

-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny

Anton’s Pasta Bar – Italian, Burnaby

Anton’s Pasta Bar on Hastings is one of the restaurants that you will see long line-ups of waiting customers at peak times. It is popular because of the big portions and the affordable price. Typically I avoid restaurants with line-ups, not because I don’t want to wait, but because I am not a big fan of hype at all. There are many places which people talk about too much, and I have seen the line-ups and waited in line, only to experience something mediocre and left disappointed. (More posts on these coming later) However, Anton’s is actually a restaurant that I visited multiple times and liked.

I did not take photos of the storefront or inside but I will make up for that with photos from both visits! The next time I visit Anton’s I shall update the blog post and show you how long the line-up can be…

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Gnocchi Con Pesto Pomodori ($12.50) – potato dumplings in a pesto tomato sauce
I wanted to get gnocchi and I ended up choosing this sauce over the creamy tomato meat sauce because I wanted a lighter flavour. I liked the texture of the gnocchi. It was not overcooked but it’s a little softer than the al dente level I like – on the chewy side, same with pasta and risotto. I knew the sauce was pesto tomato but I couldn’t help but find this dish a bit too oily. The pesto and tomato flavours are definitely there and although I liked the dish, it’s not likely that I will order this again. Hearts: 7.3/10

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Fettuccine Creola ($12.50) – italian sausage, chicken & shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce
This was my companion’s dish. I only sampled a little because it was in a spicy tomato sauce. There was a generous amount of meat and seafood, which makes the dish a better “value choice”. If the sauce wasn’t spicy I would have considered ordering it. Hearts: 7.1/10

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Linguine Pescatore ($12.50) – mixed seafood & mushrooms in a tangy tomato sauce
The second time I went there, I chose a lighter sauce for the pasta because of the last experience with pesto tomato sauce. Mixed seafood comes with octopus, mussells, calamari, and shrimp. Since I don’t eat mussels I simply asked to substitute those with more of the other kinds of seafood. I enjoyed this dish more than the previous two I’ve tried because the seafood was abundant, tasted fresh, and the sauce was light. If the sauce was heavy/creamy, it would probably make me sick because the portion was quite big. The pasta was al dente but still softer than I would like – Perhaps I’ll try to ask for harder texture next time. I enjoyed this dish but since there are so many combinations/flavours of pasta at Anton’s, I will probably order a different item the next time I visit. Hearts: 8.0/10

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Tiramisu ($7.25)
Tiramisu is one of my favourite desserts! The description on the website – ‘Anton’s house specialty’ – made me interested to get one because I wanted to know if Anton’s, which is famous for their large-portioned pasta, has good tiramisu with good quality and quantity. I was delighted to find that Anton’s desserts were also massive! It was a big tiramisu brick that’s about double the size of a regular slice of cheesecake. Actually I did not expect too high when I ordered the tiramisu because I didn’t think Anton’s dessert can be compared to one from a dessert cafe from Thierry or the like, but Anton’s tiramisu exceeded beyond my expectations. Sweetness – just right, the ladyfingers layer with coffee and liquor – it’s more on the wet side just as I liked it, mascarpone cream – sweetness and smooth/creamy texture were meeting my expectations. I also liked that they paid attention to presentation with the chocolate sauce decorations.

This is what happens when Jenny gets a tiramisu cake that she really loved – she devoured it all, by herself! I can confidently say that Anton’s tiramisu is one of my favourite desserts in Vancouver, and I liked it even more than Cincin’s and Thierry’s tiramisu, with the price factor in the consideration/comparison of course. I don’t know where else to get excellent tiramisu for the same price and receive double the portion! Hearts: 9.6/10

Proof.

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Jenny Says:

  • I can come back just for the tiramisu…best on the continent? Maybe, but definitely one of the best in Vancouver
  • Anton’s is known for generous portions and affordable prices, not fine-dining type of Italian cuisine
  • Avoid peak hours to avoid the line-ups. I go around 11-11:30AM on weekdays, and both times I did not have to line up at all
  • I did not eat the complimentary bread because it was dry and cold
  • ambiance:  family-friendly / neighborhood restaurant
  • it’s likely that you won’t finish your pasta so be prepared to take left-overs to go
  • If you do finish your pasta by yourself, Anton’s will give you a free pen (I think it used to be a free meal)

Anton’s Pasta Bar
http://www.antonspastabar.com/
4260 Hastings St, Burnaby

-by Jenny Shen, Eat With Jenny

Cosca, Italian Restaurant, Vancouver

I was very fortunate to be invited by Ronald Lee of EATmarketing to a foodies event at Cosca restaurant, along with a few other foodies: VanfoodsterPetiteFoodiemeplusfood, Sherman38 and VanFoodies. (did I miss anyone?)

Cosca is a small neighborhood Italian restaurant on Denman Street. They currently have a 20% off promotion if you visit from 4-6 on M-F.

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When the food comes out, guess what! All the bloggers flashing their DSLRs and cameras! It was AWESOME.
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I apologize for these bad pictures because I forgot my camera at home! I took these with my cell phone *fail*
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Cocktail I got. It was the first drink on the cocktail menu. (forgot the name)
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Richard’s Pappardelle Boscaiola & Linguini Pesto e Gamberi
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Anita’s Lamb Osso Bucco with Potato Gnocchi
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Ronald and I shared the pasta platter. It included Tagliolini Nero (Squid ink pasta), Mushroom Ravioli, and Gnocchi al Forno Marinara
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Ronald kept raving about their “best-on-the-continent” tiramisu. So we were all really excited when the dessert platters arrived! We had tiramisu, chocolate torte, and apple cakes.
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More to come…

-by Jenny Shen, EatWithJenny