Restaurant Review: ViVa Napoli, Toronto

Ask any vegan and they will tell you ordering pizza at a restaurant is usually pretty lame. I can't remember the last time I ordered one, actually. What is pizza without cheese, after all?  I've always said it's not pizza at all, it's just flat bread with some veg on top. Well, I'm happy to stay I stand corrected. ViVa Napoli on Mt. Pleasant Rd near Eglinton has made my vegan pizza dreams come true. And there wasn't even any Daiya involved.

ViVa Napoli prides itself on authentic pizza Napoletana, so much so they import the flour for their dough, the tomatoes for their sauce, and their olive oil. But, it's the dough that is the hallmark of a truly great Neapolitan pizza - it should be ultra thin, tender, and with a puffed, crisp, slightly charred crust. Traditionally, the pies are baked for only 60-90 seconds at a scorching 900 degrees in a stone oven heated by a wood fire. I didn't measure the temperature of the ViVa Napoli oven, but I do know it's the real deal. It's such a monster, in fact, the rear wall of the building had to be knocked out just to get it inside.

Inside, the restaurant is modern and cool, while still managing to hold a certain amount of rustic charm. The tables have fantastic uneven wood tops. The walls are soft grey exposed brick work, and clean white paint covers the ceiling and many fixtures that would otherwise look too industrial for the space. Best of all, when you look to back of the restaurant, you can see the amazing stone oven in all of it's glory.

I was planning on ordering the Marinara D.O.P. - tomato, garlic, olive oil, oregano, and basil ($10) - but I was talked into ordering the Ortolana (above, bottom left) - eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and cherry tomatoes ($15). The pizza usually comes with mozzarella, but ViVa was kind enough to allow me to substitute a bunch of giant, fresh leaves of basil for the cheese. The crust was everything it was supposed to be. The veg was seasoned beautifully and coated in the perfect amount of olive oil.

Meraviglioso, truly. I will be back more than a few times, I'm sure.


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