Firecrust Pizzeria brings its build-your-own Neapolitan pizza to downtown Vancouver

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      Over the past few years, Vancouver has been blessed with a flurry of Neapolitan pizzerias opening up, with some even obtaining Naples-based Vera Pizza Napoletana certification for serving authentic Neapolitan pizza.

      A new casual spot is combining this culinary trend with the build-your-own-meal model.

      On October 22, Firecrust Neapolitan Pizzeria opened its doors at 808 Davie Street, perched between the West End and Yaletown.

      In an interview at the bright and high-ceilinged space, corporate trainer Jonathan Kost told the Georgia Straight that the Vancouver location will be Canada's flagship store for the Dallas–based company.

      Craig Takeuchi

      It opened its first location in Dallas, Texas, in 2014. In Canada, the company has two spots in Alberta (Grande Prairie and Lloydminster). Forthcoming Canadian locations include Langley, B.C., and Brandon, Manitoba.

      The 75-seater spot (plus a heated patio) took over the premises previously inhabited by Telus' Caya store. Once it receives its liquor license (after which it will hold its grand opening), Kost said they will be serving beer and wine (with 90 percent of its wines from Italy and craft beer from Italy and B.C.).

      Instead of a full-service restaurant, Firecrust offers counter-service with customized options available.

      "We've turned it into a quick-service format where you get to pick your pizzas, the sauce, the type of mozzarella you want to do, to 30 different toppings we have," Kost said. "The only thing we end up charging you extra for is the prosciutto [an extra $3]."

      Craig Takeuchi

      Sauces include tomato sauce (made with San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy), white alfredo sauce, and pesto basil sauce. Kost explained that, like all traditional Neapolitan pizzas, they use 00-flour for the dough as well as fior di latte mozzerella.

      For those who prefer to hand over the reins to the experts, traditional pizza selections (which can't be modified) range from Margherita and quattro formaggi to Siciliana and Pozzuoli.

      Unique to this location—this being Vegancouver, after all—is the Salsiccia Vegano ($10.95), a vegan pizza. It features San Marzano tomato sauce, vegan Italian sausage, vegan mozzarella, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, and extra-virgin olive oil.

      Kost explained that Neapolitan pizza is traditionally eaten with a fork and knife, even though they've turned theirs into sliced pizza for the North American market.

      He added that traditionally, diners saved the crust to finish off the meal by dipping it into olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

      "It's always a waste when you see people eat a pizza and all you see is the crust sitting on the plate afterwards. It kinda breaks my heart because that's the thing we take our pride in: our dough."

      Pizzas are baked in an 800-degree oven for 90 seconds.

      Craig Takeuchi

      Unfortunately, due to City of Vancouver fire codes, Kost explained that they had to go with a gas oven rather than a wood-burning one.

      "If you go to any of our other restaurants, they're all wood-burning ovens," he said. "To me, it doesn’t change the pizza as a whole but that little bit of extra wood smoke does give it a nice little touch."

      As testimony to ensuring that everything is fresh every day, Kost pointed out that there aren't any freezers on the premises.

      Firecrust Pizzeria

      For those seeking something other than pizza, there are also four salad selections (served with baked flatbread), or you can your own ($9.95), with your choice of greens, unlimited toppings, and dressing.

      Two daily soups are on offer as well: Italian wedding soup and spicy tomato bisque.

      An alternative to the 11-inch pizzas is to order a combo with 6-inch pizza and either a soup or salad, or a soup with salad ($10.95).

      There's also coffee courtesy of JJ Bean and for dessert, there are North American–style indulgences: s'mores or nutella calzones ($5.95).

      Unfortunately, they don't do delivery but they do offer take out.

      While it may not be on the same level as Vancouver's more sophisticated Neapolitan pizzerias, this new spot does offer an affordable, better-quality option beyond the numerous cheap pizza places dotting the West End and Granville Street areas. What's more, it does fit the bill of what works well for residents in the area: casual, fast, and affordable. 

      Although it has had its soft opening, stay tuned for a grand opening to be announced in the near future.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook