Edmonton·FOOD REVIEW

Artisti Pizza serves up pies just like mamma used to make

Good pie starts with a good base, and at Artisti, the dough is lovely: chewy but still tender,light yet hearty, and flavourful.

These pies are delicious, down to the last crumb

The daniela pizza was "in-your-face" flavourful. The delicato calzone lived up to its name. (Twyla Campbell)

People can be vocal about what constitutes a good pizza: thick crust, thin crust, too much cheese, not enough cheese, all meat, no meat. Are square pieces even legal?

And what about tomatoes as toppings? Should they be cooked or fresh? 

To each one's own. There's enough room in this world for pizza a variety of ways, unless we're talking topped with chicken. There is no room for that.

Rocco Papallo and Giuseppe Turturro, two fellows who grew up in Italy, moved to Canada and met while working at an Italian grocery store in Edmonton, have opened Artisti Pizza in an effort to share their version of good pizza.

They serve up the kind of thin crust pizzas that Turturro's mamma used to make, and the kind that Papallo made for 12 years at the highly-rated Pizzeria al Tajer in the province of Venice. 

Good pie starts with a good base, and at Artisti, the dough is lovely. It's chewy but still tender; light yet hearty and flavourful. 

The inverno roll came drizzled with olive oil, topped with mozzarella, spicy salami, Italian sausage and onions. (Twyla Campbell)

'In-your-face flavours'

It's rare that I will finish an entire slice of pizza without leaving behind crescents of crust. But at Artisti I finish every inch of my pizza right down to the last crumb. 

There is a staggering selection of pizza on offer: 50 traditional and artisanal options, including 10 for kids. I opt for the artisanal daniela, a béchamel-sauced pie topped with prosciutto and a generous amount of mozzarella, gorgonzola and smoky provola cheese.

There's lots going on here with in-your-face flavours from robust cheese and the salty, ripe muskiness of prosciutto.

The pizza is flavourful but lacks balance. A squirt of lemon juice from the wedge accompanying my glass of water enlivens it with some much-needed acidity. 

Of the five calzoni, it's the delicato that calls to me: a golden, baked half-circle containing tomato sauce and a hefty mix of mushrooms and cheese, topped with more sauce and slices of bresaola.

It's odd that the meat is on the exterior, but this way you get to appreciate the rich flavour of the air-dried beef — a flavour that might otherwise get lost in the earthiness of the mushrooms.

The inverno roll is my favourite of all. A 12-inch pizza base is stretched thin, drizzled with olive oil, topped with mozzarella, spicy salami, Italian sausage and onions, then rolled up, baked and cut into slices.

It's a unique and very satisfying way to enjoy pizza.

There is more to Artisti Pizzeria than pizza. A half-dozen salads are on offer plus a selection of meat and cheese boards (tagliere) that come with a choice of eggplant in olive oil or a dish of olives.

In theory, it would be lovely to sit with a dining companion and share a board and a bottle of wine, but the tagliere, like the wine list, needs work.

The quality of product isn't the issue; it's the rudimentary presentation of the items that makes one wish they'd saved their money and done it themselves at home. 

The wine list is short on options, but you can make do with the Masi merlot and the Zenato pinot grigio, both fairly priced (the Masi in particular) at $5 a glass or $30 a bottle.

An Alberta craft brew would be a nice addition to the shelf. If it were to replace the Budweiser and Corona, I wouldn't complain one bit.

A bench in the foyer for people to sit while waiting for take-out would be helpful, and a few more tables to fill the gaps would make the space feel less cavernous. 

But still, you can't knock that pie and given the choice of pizzerias in this part of Edmonton, I will happily return to Artisti for more — and also for the homemade tiramisu which did look "to die for," just as the server said. 

Find Artisti Pizzeria on the south side of Holland Plaza at 11998 109A Ave.

You can hear Campbell's reviews on Edmonton AM every second Friday. You can also see more of her reviews on her blog, Weird Wild and Wonderful, and can follow her on Twitter at @wanderwoman10.

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