Naples is the birthplace of modern pizza, and that rustic, foldable, wood-fired style typifies pizza purity to many. There is a careful art to making these quickly cooked pies, with their leopard-spotted charring and perfect cornicioni (puffy rims around the edge). But there are some cravings that a Neapolitan thin crust cannot fill, and contemporary diversions from that style are also worthy of celebration. So, if the general pursuit of ooey, gooey goodness ranks high on your to-do list, then bake these Vancouver pizzerias into your memory.
AJ’s Brooklyn Pizza Joint
Find it: 325 East Broadway; ajsbrooklynpizzajoint.com @ajsbklynpizzajoint
The lowdown: These are some of the best thick-crust units in town. Brooklyn-born AJ Caridi learned how to make ’za at his brother-in-law’s pizzeria on Long Island and then brought his obsession to Vancouver when he opened AJ’s Brooklyn Pizza Joint in 2017 with his partner, Theresa Morrison. Ingredients here are so fresh that they don’t even have a freezer.
Must-order: The New York Sicilian has a slathering of homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella on an almost-two-inch-thick crust, which has a pillowy interior and crunchy exterior and takes four days to prepare. If you’re feelin’ spicy, add Italian sausage, sourced from Armando’s on Granville Island. The Detroit Red Top is also divine; it’s baked in a cheese-lined pan to give it a crispy crown.
Price range per pie: $18–34
Via Tevere Pizzeria
Find it: 1109 Victoria Drive; viateverepizzeria.com @viateverepizza
The lowdown: Named after a palazzo in Naples—but located in a residential area just off Commercial Drive—Via Tevere is ground zero for some of the best pizza in the city. It abides by the strict guidelines set forth by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, which protects the authenticity of Neapolitan-style pizza, so they use only hand-stretched dough, bake the pizzas in a wood-fired oven, serve them uncut and so on.
Must-order: The Margherita, the ultimate pizza classic is a study in simplicity perfected. The Prosciutto e Rucola—with San Marzano tomato sauce, creamy fior di latte, cooked prosciutto and a healthy handful of arugula on top of the resto’s famous dough—also earns accolades.
Price range per pie: $14–22
Nicli Antica Pizzeria
Find it: 62 East Cordova Street and 3142 Highland Boulevard (North Vancouver); niclipizzeria.com @niclipizzeria
The lowdown: Nicli’s was Vancouver’s first restaurant to be certified by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, and it still serves historic Gastown’s most perfect pie. Bonuses: good happy-hour specials, the best bowl of roasted marinated olives in town and pizza-making classes.
Must-order: The Margherita, of course, and then a Bianca, which is topped with olive oil, fior di latte, Grana Padano, taleggio, smoked gorgonzola and fried sage. If you’re feeling flirty, the spicy Diavolo Subdolo (“sneaky devil”) packs a punch with multiple cheeses, roasted chillis, hot salami and arugula.
Price range per pie: $13–26
Read this next: Where to Find the Best Burger in Vancouver
Find it: 3339 Shrum Lane (on the UBC campus) and 583 Main Street; virtuouspie.com @virtuous_pie
The lowdown: Plant-based meats and cheeses make frequent appearances on the menu at this vegan pizzeria, which was founded in Vancouver and is now open in Victoria, Toronto and Portland as well. Pies can easily be modified to have a gluten-free crust, and, rest assured, nothing tastes like cardboard here.
Must-order: The Stranger Wings is stacked with chunks of spicy buffalo cauliflower and then covered in fried shallots and a vegan blue-cheese drizzle. The Ultraviolet has layers of cashew mozzarella, oven-dried tomatoes, kale, caramelized onions and pine nuts over fresh pesto. Save room for a scoop of plant-based ice cream for dessert; new flavours are added each month. (March is Tiger Tail.)
Price range per pie: $12–14
Find it: 1835 West 4th Avenue and 7899 Templeton Station Road (Richmond); thebibo.com @bibo_vancouver
The lowdown: BiBo’s original Kitsilano location is a neighbourhood gem, and it was joined in 2016 by a location at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet. Both pizzerias will make you feel like you’re stepping into Italy, with Italian-accented staff aplenty serving delicate Neapolitan pies and handmade pastas.
Must-order: The Bufalina dresses up a San Marzano tomato-sauced base with nothing but fresh basil and a 125 gram ball of fresh buffalo mozzarella. For something more carnivorous, order the Tagliata: fior di latte, Parmigiano-Reggiano flakes, cherry tomatoes and five thick slices of medium-rare beef ribeye on top.
Price range per pie: $12–30
Pizzeria Farina & Farina a Legna
Find them: Pizzeria Farina, 915 Main Street; Farina a Legna, 119 2nd Street East (North Vancouver); pizzeriafarina.com @pizzeriafarina
The lowdown: Northern Italian-style pizza is the name of the game at both Farina locations. This entails baking their hand-tossed pies in wood-fired ovens, like their Neapolitan counterparts, but at a temperature that’s 300˚F lower for a crispier crust that strikes a fine balance of crunch and chew.
Must-order: The Boscaiola is chef Alessandro Vianello’s favourite recipe. Its white-sauce base is packed with cooked prosciutto, Parmigiano-Reggiano, mozzarella, peas and mushrooms. Elevate your slice with one of the excellent house-infused olive oils (chilli or oregano).
Price range per pie: $12–21
Find it: 2801 St Johns Street (Port Moody); pizzeriaspaccanapoli.com @pizzeriaspacca
The lowdown: Lively Italian-Canadian-owned Spacca Napoli turns out Neapolitan-style pizzas from its red-tiled oven with care. If you haven’t noticed yet, we cheated: This restaurant is technically in the Vancouver suburb of Port Moody—and it’s well worth the drive.
Must-order: The award-winning Alla Facciazza. It is served without tomato sauce but is still a mouthful: pesto, truffle cream, porcini mushrooms, prosciutto, Parmigiano-Reggiano, toasted pistachios, fior di latte and truffle oil. The flavours are sublime, but it can be on the drier side, so order a saucy pizza rosa alongside to balance it out. (The Siciliana with eggplant and basil is a winner.) Save room for a Nutella calzone for dessert—it’s legit huge.
Price range per pie: $12–25
Read this next: The Best Japanese Restaurants in Vancouver
Find it: 1017 West Hastings Street; hawknightingale.com @nightingalerest
The lowdown: The pizza served at Nightingale, an outpost of restaurateur David Hawksworth’s in Coal Harbour, is the result of a collaboration with famous Italian pizzaiolo Giuseppe Cortinovis. Here, soft, chewy crust begins with Italian flour, a sourdough starter and a 48-hour fermentation process that makes the dough easier to digest.
Must-order: The Umami-rich Roasted Mushroom is a combo of fontina cheese, confit garlic and arugula pesto. For something heartier, go for the Pepperoni, which also has olives, tomatoes, roasted mushrooms and mozzarella. Plus, the pepperoni is made in-house.
Price range per pie: $15–22
Read this next: Where to Find the Best Brunch in Vancouver
Find it: 1399 Commercial Drive; liviasweets.com @liviasweets
The lowdown: The new darling café of Commercial Drive serves up mini pizzette during happy hour and after dinner. These decadent delights have a base of house-made croissant dough (so buttery) and are topped with anything from caramelized onion and gorgonzola to fennel salami and smoked mozzarella.
Sunrise Pizza & Steak House
Find it: 949 Commercial Drive; sunrisepizza.ca
The lowdown: The oldest restaurant on Commercial Drive serves nostalgic pies that may well remind you of your favourite childhood mom ’n’ pop spot. Once owned by the Greek Galanopoulos family, Sunrise still uses their original recipes, including a stellar red sauce, substantial crust and fully loaded toppings. Dine in to experience the step-in-back-in-time decor of this beloved joint.
Steveston Pizza Co.
Find it: 3400 Moncton Street, #100, Richmond; stevestonpizza.com @stevestonpizza
The lowdown: Admittedly, we haven’t tried the buzzworthy C6 pizza at this Steveston, Richmond, restaurant—probably because it costs $850 plus tax. That hefty price tag gets you one 12-inch pizza covered in tiger prawns, lobster, smoked steelhead, Russian Osetra caviar and white truffles from Italy. According to restaurant staff, it is sold one or two times a month. If you try it, will you let us know how it is?