Pizzeria Libretto started out as a West-end staple and almost instantly earned itself a cult-like pizza-zombie following.. Soon after, the East got a taste of the legendary ‘za with the opening of on the traditionally all Greek Danforth strip. But for those who live somewhere in between, or who work downtown along the PATH- there was never a decent place for classic Neapolitan pie. That is, until now. Welcome, Pizzeria Libretto 155 (on University Ave. at King W).
Owner Rocco Agostino is easily one of my favourite people in the city, and that doesn’t even take into consideration my love for his game-changing pizza. Well apparently, the game is about to change again.
Manufacturer Stefano Ferrara of Naples, Italy has been making the essential wood-fire ovens for Agostino since day one. But with this location, he’s bringing in something new- a hybrid wood/gas oven. These babies allow the staff to use the gas for some menu items (like bread) and then use wood for the pizzas during service. It also means much greater temperature precision so that they can ensure each pie emerges picture perfect in record time. Adorned with the words Pizza Libretto in their signature red tiles, this technology is currently exclusive to this one restaurant in the city. Something tells me they won’t be alone very long.
For those who have visited the other locations, you can expect to see some familiar touches with a more “Financial district” vibe. Just slightly smaller than the Danforth location with 110 seats, guests of the downtown location can also look forward to pizza and beer on the patio this Spring.
Inside you’ll find sleek leather booths, walls lined with white tile and reclaimed wood, a section of casual high-top tables, and a semi-circle bar set with steel bar stools and brightly lit shiny red lamps.
And speaking of the bar, look forward to some seasonally inspired cocktails with an Italian edge. You can get the classic Aperol Spritz ($12) that I drank every day on every patio in Italy, as well as 4 other simple tasty sippers ($12-13). They’ve also stocked a really impressive list of local and Italian craft beers, each accompanied by tasting notes and suggested food pairings. Beer drinkers will enjoy the half dozen brews on tap ($4-5 for 10 oz/ $7-8 for 14 oz) and another 5 unique bottles to peruse ($7-30 for 341-750 ml, respectively). Obviously we can’t forget about good old wine- this is still, after all, an Italian joint. Libretto’s 20 largely Italian offerings (with some of the top VQA bottles in the mix) are all available in 5 oz, 1/4 L, 1/2 L and bottle for as low as $9 a glass, or $40 a bottle. Translation- this is an ideal spot for an easy going date night or meal out with a group of friends.
Libretto fans will be also pleased to hear that all of your favourite pizzas and snacks will be available at the new location so you’ll surely recognize some of the treats we sampled below. The menu is divided into Antipasti, Assaggini, Real Neapolitan Pizza, and Dolci and continues to be priced just as reasonably as it always has been.
On the weekend before they officially opened their doors, I was invited to their soft launch to check out the new space. The short story? They nailed it. This is going to be one popular joint. The long story? [Well, it’s not that long but] read on about what we tried.
Pizzeria Libretto Food & Drink
Dieu du Ciel Moralite IPA ($7)
Light and lemony- even this picky beer-drinker enjoyed this brew.
Cin-a-Rum Mule ($13)
Rum, White Vermouth, Cinnamon, Lime, Ginger Ale
A bit sweet with the rum and fizzy pop so for those who like their drinks very dry, this may not be for you. But I have a sweet tooth so it was good by me. Drinks like this go down way too quickly.
Last of Summer ($13)
Vanilla Vodka, Green Chartreuse, Lemon, Bitters, Egg White
In contrast with the rum-based, this cocktail delivered serious puckering action. Again, I actually quite like acidic flavours so I enjoyed it, but I certainly know that may be an acquired taste.
Rocco’s Salad ($12)
Crispy Egg, Butternut Squash, Heirloom Beets, Brussels Sprouts, Pine Nuts, Pingue Prosciutto, Ricotta Salata
I assume Rocco and I have similar palates because this salad combined so many of my favourite ingredients- salty prosciutto, hearty root veg, creamy ricotta and a crispy deep fried egg with a luscious runny yolk. This is how to eat a salad, folks.
Ricotta Gnocchi Fritti ($7)
San Marzano Tomato, Nduja, Stracciatella
I remember having these at my visit of the Danforth location, but I think they’re even better now. The gnocchi themselves were perfect pillows inside and fried to a golden crisp consistency. Paired up with the sweet thick tomato sauce, the spicy N’duja and that luxurious melty cheese, and oh boy, I was in love. This is kind of like an Italian poutine but way sexier, lighter and tastier.
Libretto Meatballs ($10)
Tomato Sauce, Crostini, Grana Padano
I have never really figured out how to make really amazing meatballs, but maybe Rocco could teach me a thing or two. These babies were perfectly seasoned, moist, light and flavourful, while the sauce got a good sopping from the roasted garlic crostini.
Duck Confit Pizza ($17)
Bosc Pear, Mozzarella, Rosemary
I’m a huge fan of fruit on pizza, and the sexy poached pear on this pretty pie made me do my little happy food dance. I loved the generous layer of rich milky cheese with the savoury duck, sweet pear and aromatic rosemary. I wish I had ordered a second to go for a secret midnight snack.
Italian Doughnuts, Nutella, Crème Anglaise
If you say doughnuts and nutella in the same sentence, you’ll definitely get this girl’s attention. These cuties were crisp on the outside with their crackling layer of cinnamon sugar, and fluffy and warm within. Oh and you can bet your boots I went to town getting every little milligram of Nutella- those Sfingi didn’t stand a chance.
Hungry yet? What are you waiting for? Pizzeria Libretto 155 is now officially open serving lunch and dinner 7 days a week. For downtown dwellers, suits, or for those needing a bite after a theatre show, conference or game, this new Pizzeria Libretto will quickly become the new hot spot. Never go downtown? No worries, with their other two (Ossington and Danforth) covering opposite sides of the city, there are plenty of ways to get your PL fix. For more information, to make a reservation or to check out the menu, you can visit their website here.