The Gist: Pizzeria Libretto’s third location on University keeps the same cool and casual vibe of the original Ossington spot (open six years ago) and Danforth outlet. But due to the sleek new design and large space the new restaurant on University, there is a decidedly downtown, slightly more upscale feel here. Case in point – the suits from Bay Street sit next to guys with sleeve tattoos. But it really caters to every demographic. Their no fuss, casual atmosphere really appeals to the downtown core.
The menu keeps to the Libretto focus of traditional Neapolitan pizzas in wood fired ovens, with sharing plates, antipastos and desserts.
Managing Partner Gary Quinto says, "It is very important to us that we keep the same food, same styles of service, and core values the same."
Grub: Open for lunch, dinner and brunch, dishes are changed seasonally (test kitchens are held on a regular basis), with features available all week long: Meatless Mondays, a feature for Tues-Thurs, and then one for the weekend crowd.
But of course, they are famous for their Neapolitan pies. Cooked in the traditional fashion in a wood fired oven at extremely high heat to achieve a charred, blistered crust. The ingredients are per AVPN Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana regulations - San Marzano tomatoes, Fiore di Latte mozzarella, dough made with naturally leavened Italian Caputo dopio doppio zero flour. Pizzas bake in less than 90 seconds, thanks to the hand-built 900 degree wood-burning oven, made by third-generation pizza ovenmaker in Naples, Stefano Ferrara.
Executive Chef and Partner Rocco Agostino says, "People love pizza. It evokes childhood memories. Neapolitan pizza uses different flavours and tastes, but it hits those same notes. For me, it’s all about seeing the smiles on people's faces."
Libations: A deep wine list boasts varietals brought in by small wine importers, bottles you won’t find at the LCBO, with primarily Italian vinos. Other locations have only 4 beers on tap; here, there are 8. There’s good ol’ Italian Peroni, picks from Side Launch Brewing Co. in Collingwood and a Saison "Capo" made especially for PL by Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery to be paired perfectly with the Margherita D.O.P. Pizza ($14).
‘Hood: Financial District
Deets: Just to give you an idea of the size, Ossington seats just 76 people. Here the space seats 120 with 50-60 on the patio. There are a variety of areas to sit – the bar, neat the floor-to-ceiling windows, along the wall in long booths or at the back near the stunning pizza oven. Take out is also available.
Fixtures & Fittings: Designer Irfan Bukhari of Bukhari Design Inc. gave the space a modern, yet apporachable look. Wanting to emulate the Financial District, while staying true to who they are,many of the design elements are used at all locations (e.g. subway tiles are used throughout all locations, but here they are beveled and 3D; reclaimed barnboard is placed on the diagonal to give it a new spin).
Massive custom-made glossy red lights can be seen from outside. Painted in the same red shade that Ferrari uses, it lends a glow and sexiness to the room. Carrera marble tops the bar, while reclaimed Manitoba maple is used on the tables.
The concrete floors aren’t polished, just given a protective coat of sealant. Seats and banquettes were covered in real Italian leather, so that the folks in suits feel comfortable, and stools were topped with wood. Large booths are set on an elevated platform.
One element kept throughout all three locations - red chairs made from recycled Coca-Cola bottles.
The coolest addition to the University location is hands down the first hybrid gas/wood pizza oven in Canada. They don’t have to bring in wood, so it burns cleaner, requires less maintenance and because it has a better heat recovery time, they can pump out more pizzas in a shorter amount of time. For a beer and pizza, you can be out in 20 mins (though they target 45-55 minutes or under for most meals).
Off the Menu: The menu offers a little something for everyone:
An eternal crowd-pleaser comes way of the Beet Caprese Salad ($11) with Ontario Fiore di Latte, basil, white balsamic and olive oil.
Looking for something a little heartier? Rocco's Salad ($12) is a divine choice for brunch, lunch or dinner. A deep-fried poached egg sits atop arugula, butternut squash, heirloom beers, brussel sprouts, Pingue prosciutto, with a light dusting of ricotta. It’s breakfast, lunch and dinner, all-in-one!
Meat lovers will revel in Flank Steak Spiedini ($9). Usually, spiedini skewers hold teeny, tiny bits of meat. Here, bold chunks of tender meat, mixed with herbs and olive oil, will leave you feeling supremely satisfied.
Neapolitan pizzas come in 12 varieties suitable for vegetarians, pescetarians, meat lovers and with spelt crust if you like. If there was ever a date-night pizza it would be the simple, yet seductive Duck Confit ($17) comes dressed with duck confit and bosc pear over a creamy base of mozzarella. Cacciatore Salami ($17) is a hunter’s cured sausage, like a mild pepperoni (Chef Rocco uses a local butcher for all his meats) and needs only tomato, basil, mozzarella, and herbs to complete the dish.
You simply can’t pass up Sfingi ($9), traditional Italian doughnuts.
How Cool is This?! The new Pizzeria Libretto & Porchetta is coming to King + Portland(hopefully by summer) and will seat 80-90!
At the Stove: Executive Chef Rocco Agostino, Chef Di Cucina Tiffany Wong and Sous Chef Carman Mach
FOH: General Manager Jamie Cook, Assistant General Manager Kelly Hobb
Head Honchos: Executive Chef Rocco Agostino, Max Rimaldi, Gary Quinto and Jamie Cook
Visiting Hours: Monday to Sunday 11:30am – 11 pm
Map It: 155 University Avenue (between King & Adelaide)
Phone It In: 416-551-0433
Check out more photos on our Facebook page.