Pizzeria Libretto (University)
Pizzeria Libretto has opened a Financial District outpost, a massive dining hall on University at King that will serve as a bastion for business lunches. The third location of Rocco Agostino's VPN-approved pizzeria is seemingly an instant success. Business is booming at lunch hour with office workers flocking in to enjoy the already-recognized menu of signature pizzas and fresh Italian fare in an informal setting.
The sleek dining room features chevron-patterned wood panels, white subway tiles and tufted leather booths. At the heart of the operation is the open kitchen with dual Ferraro ovens blazing away in the back.
Three-course prix fixe lunches featuring a choice of beet caprese or arugula salad, followed by a margherita or marinara pizza, then biscotti or scoop of gelato to finish, is attractively priced at $15. Purists will easily be pleased, but for me the a la carte menu is so much more inspired.
The Rocco's salad ($12) is especially vibrant, featuring a mix of peppery greens speckled with sweet butternut squash, beets and earthy Brussel sprouts. Pingue prosciutto and shredded ricotta add a salty component while a crispy poached egg that spills runny yolk when broken gives it a lovely luscious quality.
Buttermilk calamari ($12) is a solid dish too; the mountain of crunchy, coarsely-breaded golden rings is piled over a base of red pepper almond romesco that offers a cold and sweet contrast when dipped.
Of course the line-up of thin pizzas are the workhorse on the menu and there are a dozen to choose from, including all the established favourites found at the Ossington and Danforth locations.
The Libretto Margherita ($17) is simple but stellar. Unlike its saucy cousin, this variation is a white pizza with sweet chunky tomatoes over a base of mozzarella di bufala with basil and grana padano. In textbook Neapolitan style, the pie is thin at its centre while a ring of puffy crust is chewy and blistering with charred little steam pockets.
To drink, choices include a mainly Italian list of wines by the glass ($9-$12), quarter litre ($15-$19), half litre ($28-$38), or bottle ($45-$55). On draught you'll find local selects like Steam Whistle and Italian staples like Peroni, while the brief cocktail list covers classics like Negroni ($12) along with seasonally inspired features.
Service is swift but reservations are still advised during peak hours, which commence the moment doors open for lunch.
Photos by Jesse Milns