The Definitive Tofino Pizza Decision; Who’s got the best pizza in Tofino?
Depends on who you ask…and where your preference for pies lies. Let’s slice it up.
Pizza is the food of gods and mortals alike. Deceptively complex to master, a truly magnificent pizza lives light years away from a merely good slice of pizza, but as the old saying goes, “pizza is like sex; when it’s good, it’s great. When it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.” At 1909 Kitchen + Bar, pizza literally sits in the middle of our restaurant—a Mugnaini wood-fired oven contains a roaring inferno that measures in at up to 1000 degrees Celsius. Because pizza done right means extreme heat, and the delicately blistered crust that signals true pie lovers have what they came for. In the words of chefs, “colour means flavour” and this is true of every pizza crust that comes out of our furnace-y flavour factory.
Heat is far from the only factor needed when producing a perfect pie. Dough—like bread, tortillas, and even nachos—set up the flavour for the whole dish, and dough is the most critical part of an authentic pizza. Real pizza aficionados only use “double zero” (00) finely-ground wheat flour. When baked at high temperatures in ovens like ours, the flour delivers a crispy, crackly crust with moderate chewiness…the ideal for traditional pizza lovers. What comes next is what we all love most: da toppings.
Perhaps pizza’s greatest accomplishment is its ability to foster creativity. Any combination of toppings is welcome, and most include tomato sauce and cheese, but when envisioning the perfect pie, it all comes down to the individual. From the gluttonous Chicago-style (deep dish, inverted ingredients with sauce on top) to the most simple and magnificent, the pizza margherita (crushed tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil, drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of salt), to what seems to be the most hated of all pies, Hawaiian, everyone’s idea of what pizza is varies. So, when trying to judge the best pizza in Tofino, where would we start? Marcus Paladino knows.
For his 30th birthday party, the Tofino-based photographer wanted to know which local pizza scored best, so he and his crew did what any rational group of friends would do: they put on a double-blind taste test with ten people, averaging out the total scores. Paladino travels the world shooting photos of Tofino surfers like Pete Devries, Michael Darling, and Noah Cohen. As a long-time surfer and surf photographer, he’s eaten a lot of pizza, both good and bad. So have his friends. We asked Paladino about the results. Based off the blind taste test, the winner of Paladino’s birthday pie was the Ucluelet-based Abbondanza Pizza, a family-owned outfit 40 minutes south of Tofino. Like 1909 Kitchen + Bar, they know a wood-fired oven is the only respectable way to make a pizza proper, and it led them to victory.
The best pizza in actual Tofino award goes to 1909 Kitchen + Bar, which took top honours in the taste test, an honour we accept with humility, because we know just how good our fellow Tofino comrades in cheese are. SoBo sticks to the classic and much-lauded San Marzano tomato sauce, which shows their respect for the craft. Basic Goodness—where former world-famous supermodel Marco de Conciliis makes the pies—uses a wood-fired oven and premium ingredients just like 1909. And finally, fans of ingredient-rich pizza will love the pizza from RedCan Gourmet, plus they deliver if you prefer to stay in bed while waiting for your pie. All in all, we are in good company with these Tofino pizza partners. Thank you to Marcus Paladino and pals for doing this important work. Knowing which restaurant makes the best pizza in Tofino is no joke, and we are thankful to be on top. And as far as best pizza on the west coast, we see you, Abbondanza Pizza. When’s the next test, Marcus?