Pizzeria Libretto (King West)
Pizzeria Libretto on King West is the fourth outpost for the chain of Neapolitan pizzerias. It doesn't have much street presence but can be found next to the new Porchetta & Co. . Its entrance is down a laneway occupying a sunken space in a hundred year old brick and beam building.
Many of the existing architectural elements play into the design of the space giving it an intimate and cozy vibe that feels very much like it belongs in its particular location. Glossy red accents are all it takes to establish this place as part of the Libretto family.
A window into the kitchen offers a glimpse of pizzaiolos kneading dough and showcases the two dome shaped Ferraro ovens that are at the heart of each operation.
The bar takes a hyper-local approach to the craft beer list (Peroni is the exception) and also offers classic cocktails like a potent three-ounce Negroni ($12). I try the Vanilla Fumo ($13) a frothy blend of Jack Daniels with vanilla galliano, lemon and smoke.
The pizzas are obviously the main attraction, but those seeking healthy, less carb-laden options will appreciate the addition of the farro salad ($10). This hearty plate of whole grains comes paired with oyster mushrooms, fresh herbs and hazelnuts over whipped ricotta.
The house meatballs ($10) are a menu fixture featuring a mix of beef, pork and veal smothered in sweet tomato sauce and finished with shaved grana padano. Grilled crostini on the side is supplied to help sop it all up.
The selection of pizzas includes classics like the Marinara and Margherita, along with new seasonal variations like the eggplant pizza ($15). This one features thinly sliced deep fried rounds of aubergine paired with garlic, tomato, basil, whipped ricotta and thyme. The centre on this one isn't soupy like typical Neapolitan style pies, but the crust is pleasantly thin, foldable and slightly chewy.
Another new addition to the lineup of pizzas is the Napoletana ($14), a cheese-less pie featuring the bold, briny flavours of white anchovies, olives, capers and fried garlic. This one makes me salivate from the moment it's set before me. It won't appeal to everyone, but to me it's perfection.
To finish there's Sfingi ($9), Italian style doughnuts dusted in cinnamon sugar and paired with a seasonal accompaniment; lemon curd and strawberry purée are on offer today but I'm told Nutella ganache with bananas and whisky caramel is next up.
In the years since opening that first heavily hyped eatery on Ossington, Libretto has cultivated the status of a neighbourhood restaurant. You'll see families occupying tables now, and might recognize fellow regulars. It's nice to know that the reliable lineup of dishes are consistent as ever, but I also appreciate the variety offered by the seasonal features.
Photos by Jesse Milns