Thursday, July 19, 2018

Pizza Libretto on Ossington: True Neapolitan Pizza

We're fortunate to have a fabulous selection of authentic Neapolitan pizzerias in Toronto, and one that's received it's fair share of media buzz is Pizzeria Libretto, the brainchild of chef Rocco Agostino and his partner Max Rimaldi, who in 2009 sparked a Neapolitan pizza craze serving blistered, wood-fired thin-crust pies at their first location on Ossington Avenue. The pizzeria's name comes from the traditional Neapolitan way of thinking about pizza: it should be thin enough to be folded in half into a little book, or a 'libretto', and it appears Pizza Libretto wrote the book on Neapolitan pizzas — as they're still considered by many to be the very best in the city. Agostino is so serious about Neapolitan-style pizza that there’s an 'Ideology' section on the Pizzeria Libretto website. 

Pizza Libretto is loyal to what real pizza is — invented in Naples using local natural ingredients, cooked in a wood fired oven at extremely high heat to achieve a charred, blistered crust. They use San Marzano tomatoes and Fiore di Latte Mozzarella, brought in fresh daily; the dough is made with naturally leavened Italian Caputo doppio zero flour and is baked in less than 90 seconds at 900°F in their wood burning oven, hand built by a 3rd generation pizza oven maker in Naples. Simple, Honest, and Natural. They serve many different styles of pizza, but it’s the passion that's behind the pizza, and the ingredients that are laid on top, that makes all the difference at Pizza Libretto, from Duck Confit with Bosc Pear and Mozzarella; Spicy Nduja Sausage with Tomato, Garlic, Oregano, Basil, Mozzarella and Stracciatella; Cremini Mushroom with Buffalo Mozzarella , Gorgonzola, Roasted Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme and Pecorino; to their signature Libretto Margherita with Buffalo Mozzarella, Crushed Tomato and Grana Padano. With line ups out the door most nights, the Ossington Libretto is still a booming success with devoted pizza-philes across the city. Grazie mille Rocco!

Pizza Libretto's menu features outstanding wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas, range of antipasti, dolce and a selection of creative cocktails and Italian wines

The bright new interior styling of Pizza Libretto on Ossington with black and white tile, exposed brick walls and hip orange leather bar seating

Aperol Spritz with sparking wine on ice 

Executive Chef Rocco Agostino 

Pizza Diavola with spicy salami, chili, onion, kalamata olives, basil and mozzarella

A Tuscan Allberese red wine with a combination of Sangiovese and Trebbiano grapes

Classic Pizza margherita with mozzarella and fresh basil

Prosciutto di Parma and Arugula Pizza with basil, mozzarella and gated grana padano

Libretto Meatballs
Serves 4-6
Recipe by Rocco Agostino, chef/partner at Pizzeria Libretto, Toronto
1 1/2 kg ground beef, ground pork and ground pork belly
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup roasted and puréed red peppers
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp black pepper

Tomato Sauce:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely diced
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 litre canned San Marsano tomato, puréed
1/4 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup Bomba, an Italian spicy condiment found at most grocery stores
1/2 tbsp salt
6 slices crostini from a baguette, about 1/2-inch thick each
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano

Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Portion the meatballs with ice-cream scoop, then roll the meat into tight circular balls and place on large sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside.

For the tomato sauce, add 1/4 cup of olive oil to a pot large enough to hold the meatballs. Sauté the onions over medium heat until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for a minute. Add the tomato purée and simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the chopped basil, Bomba, salt and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add the meatballs and drippings left in the baking tray and simmer for another 15 minutes. While the meatballs simmer, lightly brush the crostini with olive oil and bake at 375°F until the bread is golden. Remove from oven and set aside

To serve, place three meatballs in a bowl and pour sauce over each one. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of grated Parmigiano over the meatballs, and add a crostino to each plate.

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