First Look: Picea997, an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria in Dovercourt Village
By Karolyne Ellacott
Pizza power (Images: Karolyne Ellacott)
Sitting somewhere in the middle of no-man’s-land and the boonies is Picea997, a pizzeria devoted to all things Neapolitan. Surrounded by industrial buildings and artist studios, this casual eatery joins the likes of mainstay Universal Grill and newbie Actinolite in Dovercourt Village; otherwise, pickings are pretty slim. Owned by Kristen Brown and her son, Ty Nesbitt, Picea’s main draw is it’s hefty brick pizza oven.
After a family property stood desolate and unused for years, Brown decided that things needed to change. Weighing the options, the mother-son team decided that opening a pizza joint was the way to go.
“Everybody likes pizza,” Brown says.
Diving headfirst into the ’za world, the duo hit up the International Pizza Expo in Vegas, then, Nesbitt spent around eight weeks in Naples learning basics of pizza making from Enzo Coccia, the man responsible for the only Michelin-starred pizzeria in the city.
Come oven-purchase time, the family decided to go the whole nine yards, shipping 15,000 pounds of materials from Naples, along with the master oven maker himself, Stefano Ferrara. Ten days of installation later, the oven was good to go, standing proud behind a pizza bar. (The building was originally a Standard Bank of Canada, and items reclaimed from that era help comprise the pizza bar.)
The restaurant officially opened its doors earlier this summer.
We’re told that the word ‘pizza’ was first discovered in 997 A.D. in an ancient Latin document that referred to the stuff as ‘picea.’ Keeping things historical, the menu offers a tight selection of pies free of newfangled toppings.
The Capo (pictured above, $16) stars San Marzano tomatoes, smoked provola, hot sopressata, red onion and fresh basil, and is finished with hot honey. When we popped in, the daily special ($17) featured speck, fior di latte and onion, and was topped with fistfuls of arugula.
Meanwhile, desserts are made by Brown herself, and include pistachio crème brulée ($9) and Neapolitan cheesecake ($9).
Judging by the number of folks mowing down on a rainy eve, a pizza joint is exactly what the ’hood needed.
Picea997, 997 Dupont St., 416-804-4290