In 2014 Calgary pizza lovers rejoiced as YYC Pizza Week was born! The premise of this event was to give restaurants from all over the city an opportunity to showcase their creativity in all things pizza, all while raising money for local charities. Do good AND eat good – a win, win situation for everyone! By the end of last year’s event, the YYC Pizza Week team had raised over $10,000 for Calgary Meals on Wheels.
Well this year, YYC Pizza Week returned with 40 creative and unique creations for pizza enthusiasts such as myself to try and I was ready for the challenge. I have to say, there is nothing better than melted cheese on a crisp crust, so what better way for me to experience the creativity of Calgary’s best culinary minds than a mini pizza tour.
Pizzas are incredibly difficult to screw up and equally as difficult to perfect. In my honest opinion a good pizza has to perfect each item of the trifecta: crust, toppings & flavour! Trying 40 pizzas in 10 days would be a fool’s errand, even trying 10 pizzas in 10 days seemed like madness. I persevered as much as I could and officially visited 6 participating restaurants, while trying 3 additional pizzas at the media launch. So come with me as I take you on a pizza journey like no other!
PIZZA DAUTUNNO – Scopa Neighborhood Italian
Crust: Thin crust, well-seasoned with perfect crispness.
Toppings/Flavour: Any pizza with three toppings can be considered simplicity at its finest. I’m not usually a fan of smoked anything, as I find it overpowering. But this pizza just worked, as the hints of smokiness from the mozzarella and pancetta were fantastic. And the butternut squash, while not adding any taste, managed to keep the pizza somewhat moist.
LA PIZZA A SCOPARE – Posto Pizzeria & Bar
Crust: Perfectly seasoned and crispy thin crust that managed to withstand all those toppings. Crust was blistered which added a different kind of chew.
Toppings/Flavour: Apricots, spinach & almonds on a pizza? I was a bit skeptical at first but everything just worked. Pesto packed a spicy flavor punch, while the apricots added a mild sweetness, the almonds added a subtle crunch and the freshness provided by spinach and mint. There was far too much spinach but that might be me just nitpicking.
CANADIAN THANKSGIVING – Cibo
Crust: This crust was mildly under seasoned but maintained a consistent crunch throughout.
Toppings/Flavour: Now this was a unique creation from Cibo, so I’ll give them props for that. The heavily salted olives clashed with the extreme sweetness from the apple butter and cranberries. The rest of the toppings were lost in the battle of salty and sweet. In the end, sweetness won the battle and this was almost like a dessert pizza.
BÁNH MÌ – Beer Revolution
Crust: Thin crust that was mildly under seasoned but was crispy throughout.
Toppings/Flavour: Having recently visited Vietnam, I know I’m a fan of a classic Banh Mi which made this pizza a must try. The toppings all balanced each other well, however the pickled veggies added more crunch than tartness. The sriracha mayo base melted away in the cooking process, leaving the pizza a bit too dry for my liking. Something was missing from this pizza and I’m still not able to put my finger on it.
THE CATARINA – Bocce
Crust: This crust was no different from Bocce’s standards, well-seasoned, mildly blistered with just enough crispness to hold everything together.
Toppings/Flavour: A perfectly balanced pizza! The Pomodoro/mascarpone mixture created a delightful rosé base with the capicolla and mozzarella adding the right amount of salt. The oyster mushrooms added a subtle earthiness while the fresh basil cut through the richness of the pizza. For the first time at Bocce, I did not need to use their chili oil!
PATATE PANCETTA PIZZA – Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria
Crust: You’ve got to give it to them, Famoso is consistent with their crust, for better or worse. A soggy mess in the middle of the pizza and doesn’t get much better until you got to the outer edges. This one required a knife and a fork.
Toppings/Flavour: A successful combination of flavours and textures! The sliced potato added a texture not often found on a pizza with the egg yolk providing a delicious rich sauce. The pancetta, mozzarella and parmesan were the perfect amount of salt, while the lemon was much needed to cut through the richness. The pizza was missing the advertised basil and rosemary, as their generally strong flavours were lost, but that didn’t take away from this flavourful pie.
BACON & POTATO CHIP – Double Zero
(Dislcaimer: Double Zero has some terrible lighting when it comes to food photography!)
Crust: This was the quintessential Double Zero dough, seasoned correctly, has a distinct chewiness and was suitably crispy.
Toppings/Flavour: Combining my two favorite foods, pizza and potato chips, has me very interested in this ‘za. Unfortunately, it fell a bit flat. The Marscapone base was not prevalent, leeks were mushy and added next to no flavor, and the bacon was not rendered enough for my liking. The pizza did have a distinct smokiness throughout and the purple potato chips added an inviting crunch. Overall this pizza didn’t live up to the high standards I have for Double Zero.
ALL WHEEL AVOCADO – Garage Sports Bar & Billiards
Crust: Decent level of crispness but heavily under seasoned and did not have a desirable texture.
Toppings/Flavour: Fried avocados is what got me in the door but ultimately led to the downfall of this pizza. The avocados were barely battered, so there was no highly anticipated crispiness, instead there was an unwelcome mushy texture. The rest of the pizza was distinctly average from the minimal amounts of chicken and banana peppers, to the heavy handed addition of sriracha aioli. This za ended up being a huge disappointment for me.
THE MEATBALL PIZZA – Una Pizza & Wine
Crust: Classic Una crust, perfectly seasoned, with great texture and no color at all.
Toppings/Flavour: This pizza was simple and classic. The fan-favorite Una meatball was placed on top of their delicious tomato sauce, garlic oil and a trecce cheese (think Bocconcini). It was delicious but ended up being a bit one note for me.
After 9 pizzas in 10 days, one would think I’m sick of pizza. But instead I am craving it daily; the sign of a pizza addict perhaps?
With my pizza journey coming to a close, I had to decide which pizzas to vote for. Unfortunately, 8 of the offerings I sampled were in the Thin Pizza category. This made my decision that much more difficult but I ultimately picked the pizza that came closest to nailing each aspect of the trifecta. My vote went to The Caterina from Bocce, who narrowly beat out Famoso! The only pizza from a different category was the Bahn Mi, which I voted for in the Unique Pizza category.
I did thoroughly enjoy my pizza week experience and would like to thank the tireless group of ladies who planned the 10 day event! You guys did an awesome job and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store next year!