First Look: Pizza by the Slab at Joe Pizza

Basically ignore every post or review of Joe Pizza you’ve read before late February, cuz after their initial soft-opening phase using Annabelle Choi’s sourdough, they’ve completely reworked their dough recipe on their own, now use commercial yeast, and have lowered prices to the $5-6 range instead of original ~$8; so it’s pretty much a new place as of late February. I went on a Thursday night and while I like it and admire it for what it is, I don’t love it.

Joe Pizza (sister restaurant of one of my pizza faves, Pizzeria Farina) does roman style pizza, specifically pizza al taglio, which is cooked in big rectangular trays and might remind you of Sicilian square slice pizza. Other places that do a similar-ish style of thick crust pizza include:

Strictly speaking, the closest in style to Joe Pizza would be ZeroZero and BiBo (Olympic Village) because of the puffier, focaccia-like crust. Scuié and Trilussa’s crusts tend to be more dense and less thick.

Joe Pizza is right on the corner of Cordova and Carrall, just a block away from Pigeon Park. Nelson the Seagull and East Van Roasters are on the same block. At $5 a slice, is this place an example of gentrification? To add a wrinkle into this discussion, Joe Pizza offers what they call a “suspended slice”:

Our neighbors at Nelson the Seagull recently read about and implemented a tradition started in Naples, referred to as “Suspended Coffee”. The concept is to purchase a coffee in advance for someone who may not be able to afford one. We have embraced this for pizza. When you pay for your order, you may ask to purchase a suspended slice and help feed someone in our neighborhood who may otherwise not be able to afford their next meal.

Nice idea, and I applaud it, but…how do DTES residents know that this suspended slice thing is in effect?

The font reminds me of Friz Quadrata…with a splash of The Godfather logo and a healthy, light-hearted, kitschy playfulness.

Good booze list. Accessible styles brewed by (mostly) good breweries 😉

Here’s the slices that they had on that night:

Calabrese (tomato sauce, salami, fior di latte, olives, and oregano).

Puttanesca (anchovies, capers, olives, and basil).

Mr. Chop (tomato sauce, capicollo, pineapple, mozzarella, parmesan, jalapeno, and basil).

Parma (prosciutto, arugula, and parmesan).

Zucca (white sauce, squash, leeks, parmesan, mozzarella, and sage).

Margherita (fior di latte and basil).

Eggplant Parmigiana (tomato sauce, eggplant, parmesan, mozzarella, and basil).

Fun Guy (white sauce, mushrooms, onions, kale pesto, and arugula).

Quebec Style (tomato sauce, pepperoni, sausage, parmesan, mozzarella, peppers, and oregano). Someone will have to explain to me how this is “Quebec style”…

Spuds (white sauce, potato, pancetta, brussel sprouts, parmesan, and parsley).

A “whole slab” is a whole rectangular tray of pizza. “Half slab” would be half the tray (duh). And a “slice” would be a rectangular slice (which they cut once on the diagonal — see my slice below).

The only pizza missing that night was their Marinara (tomato sauce and basil). One problem is that I didn’t see the toppings listed anywhere (I was semi-drunk though). So you end up having to ask the person behind the counter what toppings are on which pizza, which might bog things down a bit. Their full menu is listed on their website.

They also offer a couple salads…

…and loaves of bread.

After you order and pay, they give you a card with an Italian name on it. Carlo Goldoni was an Italian playwright from the 1700s. But how do you pronounce his name?

Ah, that’s the ticket.

When you order your slices, they warm them up and shout out your designated name when it’s ready.

I assume the bottle on the left is chili oil. I didn’t try it. I did use some chili flakes though.

The slices here don’t have a ton of sauce, nor are they oily, so you won’t be needing too many napkins.

Puttanesca ($5, one slice cut diagonnaly into two wedges) with anchovies, capers, olives, and basil (which gets cooked a bit when the slices are reheated). The crumb is very soft and airy, well-risen, with a thin crispy crust. The textural contrast is great. The topping-to-crust ratio is “ok”…but there’s no getting around the fact that several of your bites will be of just crust with no topping and scant sauce. The crust has good flavour and can almost stand up to being eaten naked, but I do wish there was a bit more sauce on this cheese-less slice. The toppings are flavourful and high-quality enough to remind you of eating actual puttanesca pasta. But, being semi-drunk at 8:45 (they close at 9pm daily), this slice didn’t quite hit the spot. I wanted more sauce, more flavour, more of that pungent puttanesca whorishness.

Please pardon my gross nails and cuticles. If it doesn’t make you dry heave, it makes me dry heave.

The thin and crisp bottom crust isn’t that oily at all.

(For all the whiny Welpers, my slice was warmed up to the appropriate eating temperature. Not too hot, not too cold.)

I also got a slice of Calabrese ($6 – salami & olives) for tomorrow’s lunch. I should’ve asked them to not warm up my to-go slice…but reheating it the next day didn’t dry it out too much though:

The Calabrese reheated in the toaster oven fine (400°F for 5 mins). Really apparent was how milky and creamy the cheese was, and how pleasurable it was to eat. Points for that. Apparently, they use the same sauce here as they do at Pizzeria Farina. I love how the sauce tastes on the Farina pies, but in this thick crust context, it tastes totally different…almost faded into the crust or evaporated into the oven air. Again, you are going to be eating several bites of unladen crust. I imagine that would bother some people. Even though I’m a minimal topping sort of guy when it comes to thin crust, neo-Neapolitan style pizza, the same philosophy sorta bugs me when applied to this thick crust Roman style pizza. I’ve got motivation in me to go maybe one more time, and have a beer with my slice too, and see if my semi-like edges into firm-like.

If you eat here, you gotta love crust.

Joe Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

7 thoughts on “First Look: Pizza by the Slab at Joe Pizza”

  1. Carlo Goldoni is pronounced “Kar-low Gold-oh-nee” not “Gold-dee-nee”. I’d be happy to help them out with pronunciation and spelling in exchange for pizza… Nice review Dennis.

  2. Hi Dennis, great review! Best way to reheat pizza- place topping side down in a teflon pan and have on medium low heat until cheese gets a caramelized crust and the piece is warmed through at the top, then turned for a mere 2 minutes more. Only, if you like it like that. Josie @ulamfilipinocuisine

    1. The plates at Joe Pizza are enamel steel. Very cool. If you’re eating in at Farina, they serve it on plates and there’s also self-serve plates, water, and cups.

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