I walk through the doors at 5pm sharp. I've been warned to get to Pizzeria Libretto early as I'm told they fill up pronto. Lime green walls, dangling lights, rustic banquettes, and a communal dining table make for lots of conviviality. There's a buzz in the air and while I wait to be seated, I lean on the bar to inspect an interesting looking bottle. The bar man tells me it's "just reverse osmosis water" and I ask, "How much?" Casually he answers, "There's no charge and we make sparkling water t
oo, but that's three dollars a bottle." If this is what they do with just the water, I'm already impressed with the presentation. Even the bottles have the "Pizzeria Libretto" brand on them.
I look towards the end of the room into the cave-like mouth of the wood burning pizza oven only to be snapped out of my day dream by Chef Rocco Agostino. He graciously agreed to meet up with me in order to answer some of my questions about their brand of authentic Neapolitan pizza. Agostino is a veteran chef, wowing diners and critics alike, although he tends to keep a low profile, choosing to allow the food to speak for itself.
"There's a rule book for Neapolitan pizza or the VPN [Verace Pizza Napolitana]," Rocco tells me as his partner, Max Rimaldi, slides into the booth beside him and adds,"There's actually an association and the American chapter is coming to put us through the certification process."
There are several pizzas on the menu, however Pizzeria Libretto will only submit two classic styles for the VPN certification. "We don't say we make pizza the best, we just strive to make it authentic," says Rocco. That means one-hundred percent organic, stone-ground flour to give the pizza great texture, a pizza oven imported from Naples that was built by a third generation oven specialist, pressed San Marzano tomatoes, Fiore di latte mozzarella and fresh basil for the Margherita pizza that I'm about to try.
I also love the possibilities for antipasti, so I ask about their selection. Rocco cures all his own meats and as soon as I hear "duck prosciutto", my jaw drops. The fatty and rich flavour of the duck is rendered into a delicate thing of beauty. Just a slice of bread, a drizzle of oil and a pinch of seasoning is all it takes and I'm in duck heaven.
To make mention, the wine list is short, sweet and very Italian. There is even a brooding Barolo and some lovely Amaros available for later on. What's even nicer is that everything is available by the glass, quarter, half litre or bottle. And, what about the desserts? Classic, simple gelato made in-house, of course. There's nothing like a vanilla 'affogato' to finish up the real deal.
There's something to be said about real simplicity. It lets the food flavours sink or swim. So at Pizza Libretto, they swim, as the lineup at the door will attest to. I haven't even been here a half hour and the rush is in full swing at only 5:30pm! Clearly, if Rocco doesn't call their pizza "the best" Toronto will. This is the real Neapolitan deal.