Verace Pizzeria Napoletana and Enoteca.
A fairly recent addition to the Crosstown area, this pizzeria seeks to make a name for itself amongst the likes of Nicli Antica. Less pretentious definitely. But how is the food? Catching a meal here on a whim, my friends an I tucked in to some serious Italian styled food.
Verace has a very spacious and fully licensed patio that is great for people watching during warmer months. Located in the round about at the foot of Keefer Street (Keefer Place), between a T&T Grocery and access to the skytrain, there is no end to the foot traffic in this area of gentrification.
I quite liked the feel of Verace’s interior. From the ceiling to floor windows adorning the front of the restaurant to the plush booth seats in the back, one could very easily settle themselves in for a nice dinner or boisterous gathering.
The kitchen is open to the main dining area and their gas powered oven where all of the pizza action happens is positioned to tantalize patrons.
Even the little decor details made a big difference. Take for example the textured ceiling tiles and the large lighting fixture pictured above.
After being welcomed and politely seated we perused the menu. Upon placing our respective orders, the waitress returned with sparkling water, which we were pleased to find is unlimited, and seasoned olive oil. Although both oils look to be strongly flavoured of chili and oregano (left to right respectively), they were surprisingly mild and worked well drizzled over our pizzas.
Starting with Burrata as an appetizer, our table quite enjoyed the warm and crisp baked pizza dough when used to scoop up the soft and creamy cheese. The drizzle of balsamic and olive oil made this dish just that much more decadent. The smooth burrata really hit the spot!
The first pizza up to the table was the Prosciutto e Rucola. Underneath all of that fresh arugula and fresh grated grana padano cheese (pictured above) was a rustically simple prosciutto and mozzarella pizza that was crisp around the edges. That crispness gave way to thin and chewy dough towards the center where most of the plum tomato sauce ends up pooling. Those of you not familiar with pizzas of this variety may balk at the idea of what may seem like a soggy center, but that is just the reality of the situation. And a tasty reality it is.
There was some olive oil used to finish the arugula, but the whole serving just got better when extra infused oils were liberally tossed over top. The mild flavours of the chili and/or oregano oils did quite a good job of adding flavour without masking the original dish. For what you order, this is like a pizza with a large side salad in terms of serving size.
The Capri pizza arrived next. Layers of genoa and fennel salami over that same, ever so slightly charred and saucy pizza base and finished with olive oil. It was a bit challenging to eat this particular pizza as there was not a lot keeping the salami in place. Once a bite was taken the whole affair tended to devolve into an all or nothing deal between the mouth and each slice of salami. One diner commented that the fennel could have been more strongly flavoured, which was but a minor afterthought.
Oddly enough the simplest of the three pizza pies arrived last. The Margherita pizza with fresh basil, grana padano and finished generously with extra virgin olive oil, was very well received. Almost soupy in the center and chewy through out (in a great way), the pizza arrived piping hot and was consumed almost as quickly. This particular pizza, more than the others ordered, benefited the most from the extra olive oil served as the mild flavours of each mingled quite nicely on the palate.
A below crust view of the pizza shows how the (non-traditionally) gas oven still manages to char some areas of the dough. I really enjoyed the consistency of the crust.
Still feeling a bit peckish after our meals, we all decided to order some desserts having each seen something that caught our attentions. I ordered the strawberry panna cotta. Complete with a mint garnish, the panna cotta sat center stage amid a shallow pool of pureed strawberry. The cooked cream had set quite firmly and the sweetness of it contrasted nicely with the ever so slightly tart strawberry. The hint of vanilla is also readily apparent, which shows up as the black flecks on the mound of cream.
My friends shared a gelato affogato, which was sided by frozen blueberries over a smear of the same strawberry reduction that was featured in my panna cotta. The vanilla gelato, which is apparently made in house, came to the table on its own, allowing the waitress to pour the shot of espresso over top of it. From all accounts it was quite delicious and worthy of a re-order on our next visit.
The opinions of others may differ from that of my own, but I am excited for the long overdue renewal and gentrification of the crosstown area of Vancouver. Verace is a great spot that could suit many an occasion. From casual get togethers, more boisterous events or intimate affairs, the decor and vibe are versatile enough to handle it. The food is such that being social is almost required and service is friendly/attentive.
Verace Pizzeria Napoletana and Enoteca
189 Keefer Place