Nicli Antica Pizza Margherita

June 1889 is a significant month in the history of Italian cuisine. That’s when humble Neapolitan tavern owner Raffaele Esposito won the praise of Margherita of Savoy, Queen of Italy, by serving her a local peasant specialty – a flatbread, which he designed in the colours of the Italian flag in honor of her visit to Naples.

Legend has it that the Italian queen was so delighted by Esposito’s creation that she insisted a wood-fired ‘flat-bread oven’ be installed in the palace. Thus was born the first Pizza Margherita which set the standard for all future pizzas for generations to come. Further adhering to Neapolitan pizza’s highest standards, in 1984, the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) was founded in Naples, Italy.

Nicli Antica Pizzeria

In 2009, the European Union protected Neapolitan pizza with its designation as a Specialty Guaranteed DishNicli Antica, Vancouver’s first AVPN-designated pizzeria, is celebrating Pizza Napoletana with a month-long series of special events.

Last week, I was invited to sample that basic but wonderful pizza and learn about Neopolitan pizza-making methods. 00 flour, Italian tomatoes, fior di latte, basil. It’s those four ingredients plus a list of regulations, that creates a true AVPN-certified pie. The fifth ingredient is love.

We also learned that photos of pizzas created for certification have to be submitted to AVPN in order to qualify and to make sure that protocol is being followed. Once a pizzeria is certified, it’s given an authenticity number. Neopolitan pizza makers are often referred to as “custodians of an ancient product”. Nicli’s Margherita is divine. Each bite is infused with the wood-oven aroma, combined with the cheese and marinara sauce. The basil sits pretty and adds a sweet bite to the overall palate.

Nicli Chef David Tozer
[Nicli Chef David Tozer]

David Tozer started at Nicli as a sous chef. After a year and a half, owner Bill McCaig deemed him ready to take the helm. Tozer’s zen zone is getting into the pizzeria at 9 am and working out between 40 and 80 kgs of dough. Weekends see a higher volume of dough being made into 250 gram balls for hand-stretching and hitting the wood-fired oven for 60 to 90 seconds.

A Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) graduate, Tozer went to work at Central City Brewpub in Surrey, where he got his first taste of ‘artisan’ pizza creation. A stint at Rocky Mountain Flatbread Pizza in Kits instilled in him the love of creating pizzas using local ingredients. He’s working to get locally-sourced meats and produce into Nicli’s kitchen as well. His favourite Vancouver pizzeria? Farina on Main Street.

Nicli’s Margherita Pizza June events
June 25
La Stella Wine Dinner
Four different pizzas paired with four different wines from the South Okanagan’s award-winning La Stella Winery, ending with a special dessert to complement Moscato d’Osoyoos. $60 per person, including taxes and gratuity. Special winery guest TBA. Tickets and details available here.

Date to be announced
PINQ Presents a Royal Affair
Enjoy a benefit evening for Friends for Life starring Vancouver’s reigning queen, Joan E. Get your glam on at this bejeweled evening of Margherita pizza, cocktails, and good fun. Date and ticket details to be confirmed soon on both PINQ and Friends for Life websites.

All month
Margherita Lunch
Nicli is offering a special three-course lunch at $40 for two people. 10% of the proceeds from each lunch will go to support the Strathcona Community Centre. Menu includes insalata (choice of green or arugula and fennel), Margherita pizza, and dolci (Panna Cotta with blackberry lavender compote).

Dine Like an Italian
Any Sunday to Thursday evening from 9 pm to closing, Nicli will offer diners a 50% discount on an order of Margherita pizza.

Margherita Cocktail: Her Royal Majesty
A delicious concoction of Campari, star anise, syrup and fresh grapefruit juice topped with prosecco, specially priced at $12.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.