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Through-The-Looking-Glass-Tuesdays: Pizzeria Libretto: The Happiest Place on Earth

August 4, 2010

I remember everything about my first experience on a real rollercoaster, the first day I decided I was brave enough to take the leap from the Ghoster Coaster to the Dragon Fire. I had it all mapped out in mind, planned it down to the minute, of course with C&CM, childhood soul mates and fellow adventure hunters. I remember writing emails back and forth days before the event, with our plan of action, in a strategically reasoned out list (from easiest coaster to the deadliest). It was everything I imagined it to be–thrilling and exciting, packed into the perfect little bundle that added six hops to every step I took once I stepped off the platform, brimming with that euphoric high that keeps people coming back for more, keeps these types of places alive. There’s nothing quite like your first experience. It’s something you can never really forget; something that can never truly be rivaled. It’s no wonder children enjoy these places more than your average adult. It’s not the age so much that makes it more appealing, but just the newness of the experience. As you get older, it just never really feels the same. It’s hard to admit it at first, you don’t want to believe that it’s a feeling of the past, that your on a permanent-coaster-low that no Behemoth or Superman or Extreme Skyflyer can save you from. You seem to wear out your Season Pass more and more, each experience losing a bit of magic along the way, until finally, the renewal reminders are thrown out with the weeds of your freshly sprouting spring garden.   

Well, tonight, not only did I board the Dragon Fire once again, I went all the way back to the mothership, Disney Land itself. My emotions were vividly similar to the ones I experienced those many years ago–nervous and excited, scared that it wouldn’t be as good as I hoped, wouldn’t satisfy what I craved. Fortunately for me, it was, once again, everything I had hoped for and more. Disappointed I was not, euphoric high I do have, though, something that’s still buzzing through me as I sit here wide awake, wayyyy past my usual 9:30pm sleepy time.   

When it comes to my blog, I like to write about things that I don’t read about often. So you might be surprised to hear me documenting my trip tonight to Pizzeria Libretto. This is a post common, not only to most bloggers, a subject of many foodie tweets, but also a topic that has grazed the culture and lifestyle pages of pretty much every major Toronto publication. But I can’t resist…I have to share it with you, this feeling, because I finally found it–the one we lost when we grew up and kicked our Wonderland passes and Disney Land dreams to the door.   

I walked in to the ideal atmosphere of a pizzeria–communal dining is a word that comes to mind, along with rustic, urban–both earthy in decor and in its down-to-earth service style. My recent reminiscing of Italian travels (aka Positano) had me yearning to go back more than ever, and as tonight served as a reunion with some of my Italy girls, we could not have picked a more perfect place.   

I have been to Naples before. Okay, so I’ve been to the Naples train terminal. But the pizza slice I had there, after a gruelling trek back from La Costiera Amalfitana, rivals much of what I ate in my entire five weeks in Italy.  And I’ve eaten my way through the Amalfi Coast, which is only a short (okay, not so short) subway (and mountainous bus) ride away…and I am quite positive the wisdom of the Napoli pizza makers has made its way there by now, it must have, I promise you it has. Every slice of pizza I had in Positano was perfection (notably the one from Ristoranti Mediterranero), on all of the Tyrrhenian coast-line, actually. In fact, my trip may be the reason why I so often crave pizza, and always end up ordering it at every trattoria or osteria I visit back here in Toronto, no matter how much I try to force myself to believe that “I’m craving pasta this time”. I firmly believe that since I’ve returned, almost a year ago now, I have been subconsciously attempting to eat my way through every pizza slice in Toronto, until I find the right one that brings me right back to every, and any, corner pizzeria I flip-flopped in to last summer.   

Libretto may have just done the trick. After finally experiencing what has been more than once quoted as the best pizza in the city, I can honestly say, that for once the hype did not kill it. That everyone might just be right, and that I may just have to jump on board the Libretto bandwagon–heck, I’ll even volunteer to command the whole damn ship. I had an inkling even before I put knife to plate, as the fresh basilico made its way to my nostrils. (How fitting was it that today’s nonni pool talk included a discussion on the beauty of backyard basilico, seriously?) And it was confirmed after my first bite of thin, wood-oven-baked goodness, topped with fresh and bitter arugula and thin, smoky and salty Ontario Prosciutto and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano–Italia, here I come (or here I am?) Oh, and did I mention the roughly chopped chunks of garlic? I was almost sick to my stomach when I saw AG discarded it to the side of her plate as I dug through my toppings in an attempt to include one in every bite.   

 But how can you know for sure, you ask? After being away for almost a year, how do you even remember? How can you even compare? Tonight, I figured out the trick–the one that will win is the one that needs no comparison at all, really, that no memory needs to be recalled for you to mentally fact-check– because, instead, you simply will be unable to focus on any other thought except for how good the food is that you’re consuming at that very moment. And that’s exactly what happened tonight.   

Unfortunately, my trooper of a camera, the little banged up Canon SD 400 that has literally been everywhere with me, and usually does me (semi) proud, stood no shot in the dimly lit dining room of Libretto. The pictures I took with my flash on would do no justice to the glorious work of pizza art, so I will not even bother to post them. Trust me, I don’t think any photo really can. There are no photos here to keep your eyes and stomachs entertained enough to keep you reading, or skimming, or whatever you normally do.   

I bounced home tonight, eager to report back to Mama, who loves pizza (almost) as much as I, and is also anxious to experience the Libretto legacy. “I had the Ontario Prosciutto and Arugula pizza and it was sooooooooo good” I state (borderline yell) with a childish like grin (full-face-beam). She shakes her head with a smile, “I thought you were just gonna keep it simple with the Margherita?” ….I explain to her that had fully been my intention, until I was convinced otherwise by our awesome server Brian. I’m a server, in a place where I eat the food about as often as I legitimately do my closing duties (which is never), so I’m quite skilled at bull-shizing my way through the sale of a particular dish. And by the same token, I am an expert at spotting out anyone else who tries to lamely do the same. But this was not the case with our server, Brian, who so passionately sold us all into our choices, and took our hands to introduce us all personally to the dishes we were about to indulge in. His love for the food he served us was as strong, I’m positive, as the chef who cooked it. When I asked for his advice between the Ontario Prosciutto and the Grilled Eggplant, he literally sang me a song of Prosciutto praises, describing the magic behind the dish in what seemed like the type of love story you can only find in the Romance section at Indigo. My mind was made up before the dough was even stretched, and Brian did not let me down. I licked my plate clean (and even got to dabble in the Duck Confit, another chapter in Brian’s love story of Libretto recommendations, which was quite unreal as well).   

So after years of pausing my Disney DVDs on that intro scene where the castle is drawn before your eyes, and researching Disney Land resort prices for a mock getaway I know GF will never take with me, I have finally made it there. Okay, maybe not there there…and being an avid (passionate) Walt fan, a real return is on my agenda, but damn, tonight came pretty frickin close. I think I actually may have had visions of Aladdin himself shaving the Parmigiano on my pie. I drove home experiencing my favourite kind of summer-night nostalgia, that high I talked about before. And for the first time in months, no, a year, I will go to bead reminiscing on my dinner instead of dreaming about my breakfast.   

Pizzeria Libretto Daily 12-11pm & Sunday 4-11pm; 221 Ossington, Toronto, Ontario, 416-532-8000


Note: Through-the-Looking Glass Tuesdays will remain a post dedicated to a dish or special treat influenced by a Disney movie or character, but this week I concluded that Libretto deserved the whole Magical Kingdom instead…so we`ll consider this a Special Edition.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. God permalink
    August 4, 2010 10:58 am


    libretto is good

  2. August 4, 2010 11:52 am

    a magical night and equally magical post! i dont even like prosciutto and our server had me salivating with his description of how the pizza is made and served! the casual atmosphere made for a great girls night…and reuniting the italy girls over such a delicious dinner meant that the reminiscing wasn’t so sad – it just made me more excited for you to enjoy this summer! xo

  3. Melissa permalink
    August 5, 2010 7:33 am

    Aaannnnddddd……..hungry for pizza.
    PS: never get the pasta–ALWAYS get the pizza.

  4. August 5, 2010 1:29 pm

    I love the feeling of nostalgia and your story is quite compelling! It’s great how simple things, like pizza, can bring back memories of extraordinary experiences!

  5. August 9, 2010 6:55 pm

    I love Pizzeria Libretto! This is my review of the place. I agree! The pizza is fantastic and authentic!

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