Quick Bites: Pizzeria Via Napoli, Ikkoi Japanese Family Cuisine, Nani’s Gelato

Pizzeria Via Napoli
Margherita pizza from Pizzeria Via Napoli

I suppose you could order something from a Neapolitan pizza joint that isn’t a margherita pizza, but why would you?  As I’ve mentioned before, it’s the perfect food.  It’s also a great test of a restaurant’s chops, because it’s so simple that if your technique isn’t on point, and if the ingredients you’re working with aren’t great, it’s going to show.  Pizzeria Via Napoli’s version absolutely hits it out of the park; the crust is flavourful, perfectly chewy, and has a good amount of char on its exterior (including the bottom of the slice).  And the other ingredients are just right.  Margherita test: passed!

Ikkoi Japanese Family Cuisine
Ramen from Ikkoi Japanese Family Cuisine

Speaking of food that’s perfect: ramen.  It’s the best.  I ordered the tonkotsu ramen from Ikkoi (they serve several other styles of ramen, along with sushi and other Japanese standbys), and it’s pretty decent.  Is it the best bowl of ramen that I’ve ever had?  No; their menu is so broad that they’re probably spreading themselves a bit thin.  But there’s also absolutely nothing wrong with it.  I wouldn’t go out of my way for it, but if you’re in the area and you’re craving a bowl of ramen, it’s worth a shot.

Nani's Gelato
Dark Chocolate Oreo at Nani’s Gelato

Nani’s continues to be great.  I don’t particularly feel the need to write about Nani’s every time I eat there, because I think it’s fairly clear by this point that I think Nani’s serves some truly stellar gelato.  But I would like to note that, even though it’s not technically on the menu, Nani’s does have a kids size cup that’s pretty much the perfect amount if you’re not super hungry.  It’s the same size cup as the small, but the gelato pretty much only goes to the brim instead of being mounded way up.  I’m not sure why they don’t advertise this size, but I’m definitely glad I know it exists.  And now you do too!

Amazing Gelato at Mizzica Gelateria & Cafe

Mizzica Gelateria & Cafe
: 29 McCaul Street, Toronto
Website: https://www.instagram.com/mizzicagelato/

The first thing you see before you enter the door at Mizzica is a big banner with the various awards they won at the Gelato Festival World Masters, which certainly seems like a promising sign.

Mizzica Gelateria & Cafe

And then you try the actual gelato, and it’s pretty clear why they won those awards — holy moly it’s good, please give them all the awards.

Mizzica Gelateria & Cafe

They have a bunch of delicious looking flavours, but I went with the Cassata Siciliana, which is based on an Italian dessert of the same name (which is basically a boozy cake filled with candied fruit and creamy ricotta).

Mizzica Gelateria & Cafe

It’s so good.  It’s filled with chunks of cake, dark chocolate, candied fruit, and sweet ricotta, and everything about it is crazy delicious.  The balance of all the ingredients is just right, and the gelato itself is super smooth, rich, and creamy.  I was wondering if they could keep up that stratospheric level of quality; I’ve been back a few times since this particular visit, and yeah, this place is the real deal.  It’s some of the best gelato in the city.

Top Notch Pizza at North of Brooklyn

North of Brooklyn
: 229 Geary Avenue, Toronto
Website: https://www.northofbrooklyn.com/

Though I’m all about the simple joys of a margherita pizza, occasionally, a more interesting assortment of toppings can be just what the doctor ordered.  Case in point: the Green Out pizza at North of Brooklyn, which comes topped with “Mozzarella, Spring Cream, Spinach, Semi-Dried Tomatoes, Salsa Verde, Pecorino.”  It’s about as far from the simplicity of a margherita pizza that you can get, but it’s so, so good.

North of Brooklyn

“Green” is right there in the name, and yeah, the abundant spinach and herby spring cream (which is basically cream with herbs mixed in) definitely gives the pizza a verdant glow.  It looks like it might be overwhelming, but it’s just right — the tender spinach balances so well with all the other ingredients.

North of Brooklyn

The hearty spinach, the pops of sweetness from the tomatoes, the zinginess from the salsa verde, the gooiness of the mozzarella, and the saltiness of the pecorino is just a perfect storm of deliciousness.  It’s surprisingly great.

North of Brooklyn

But a pizza lives and dies by its crust, and that’s where this thing really shines.  It’s super thin and crispy, but not even remotely crackery — it’s got a great balance of chewiness and crispiness, with a surprising amount of substance given how thin it is, and a great flavour.  It helps that it’s perfectly cooked, with a nice even char that never overwhelms.  The toppings are all extremely tasty, but it’s the superlative crust that really puts this in the pizza stratosphere.

Quick Bites: Sarpa Restaurant, Burger Drops, El Pocho Antojitos Bar

Sarpa Restaurant
Franco Fries at Sarpa Restaurant

This place probably deserves more than a quick bite review, but it’s one of the many restaurants I visited while this blog was on hiatus, and this seems like it’s better than nothing.  I tried a few things here, and everything was quite good, but the highlight was clearly the Franco Fries: “hand cut fries, parmesan cheese, truffle-honey essence.”  This seems like an odd thing to order at an upscale Italian restaurant, but trust me — you need these fries in your life.  The fries themselves are perfectly cooked, with a crispy exterior and creamy interior, but it’s that truffle-honey essence that really makes these things sing.  I’m normally not crazy about anything with truffle oil (most truffle oils have never seen an actual truffle in their life), but this didn’t have that flavour at all; it was garlicky, a little bit sweet, and thoroughly addictive.

Burger Drops
Burger and a chicken sandwich from Burger Drops

I tried a couple of things at Burger Drops.  The first was the original burger, which features “griddled sweet onion, American cheese, house pickles, Drop sauce, toasted potato roll.”  It’s a solid burger — the patty has a nice crust, a decent beefy flavour, and the toppings suit it well.  It’s a bit on the dry side and nothing about it really jumped out at me, but it’s a tasty burger.  If I had been reviewing it for my burger blog, I’d give it a solid three out of four.  The other thing I tried was the chicken sandwich, which is odd, but tasty.  The odd thing about it: it’s not a traditional fried chicken sandwich.  Instead, it’s basically a gourmet McChicken, right down to the reconstituted chicken patty.  It’s a fun novelty and a big step above its fast food inspiration, but I’m not sure that I’d ever elect to eat this over a standard fried chicken sandwich.

El Pocho Antojitos Bar
Chilaquiles at El Pocho Antojitos Bar

Chilaquiles is one of those dishes that really deserves to be a bigger deal.  It’s such a simple dish: it’s just tortilla chips tossed in a zingy sauce.  At El Pocho Antojitos Bar, it’s also topped with crema (I think?  It’s been a while), cheese, and a fried egg.  The sauce thoroughly coats the chips, softening them a bit, though they do still retain a bit of their crunch.  It’s a thoroughly satisfying dish.

A Delicious Cold Cut Sandwich at Buon Giorno Caffe & Panini

Buon Giorno Café
: 1134 The Queensway, Etobicoke
Website: https://www.buongiornocaffe.ca/

There’s something magical about a meaty Italian sandwich, despite its simplicity.  Just a whole bunch of cold cuts on bread?  Too simple, right?

Wrong.  Especially if it’s as good as it is here.

I was actually planning on ordering the hot veal sandwich, but when I went in, the guy behind the counter sold me on the cold cut sandwich on focaccia, which he said is a Thursday and Friday special. There was something about the way he described it, and his promise that I was “gonna love it!” had me convinced.

Buon Giorno Café

I think they describe it better on their website than I ever could:

This signature sandwich is only available on Fridays. That’s the day we take fresh Rosemary & Roasted Sweet Pepper Focaccia and stuff it with generous layers of Mortadella, Genoa Salami, Capocollo and Provolone and then smother it with hot Muffuletta just for fun. We’ll forgive you if you curse when you try this one. Our regulars have lovingly named this the “F@#*in Focaccia Sandwich”.

I know it seems like they’re overselling it, but you know what?  I don’t think they are.  The focaccia is perfectly soft and chewy, with some nice flavour from the rosemary and the peppers.   The fat stack of cold cuts are all super tasty and really well balanced, the cheese adds a bit of creaminess, and the muffuletta gives it a nice zingy pop that cuts through the richness.  It’s a top-notch sandwich.