What a crazy, muddy, wet week this was… We were looking for a small evening snack to enjoy after our weekly volleyball game and passed by Lo Zingaro Ristorante Pizzeria.
dark ruby, in an old style bottle
We noticed the old fashioned pizzeria sign first. It had yellow blinking light bulbs all around and looked like an anachronism here. It is however, not difficult to pass unfortunately. Few flower baskets outside add some country charm to the appearance. A narrow and long space with few tables wide open to Queen Street – doing their best to capture some of the summer weather while being bound to a tight downtown location.
We were lucky to grab a seat right next to the window. Ma Cherie ventured inside to survey the premises while taking a few photos.
dark cherry, red fruit, needing more attention and aeration
The impressive bar corner had preserve jars and bottles on the wall. There was also an open kitchen with a very active chef visible at the end of the long corridor, at the back. Beautiful incandescent light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, a flower basket by our window and…lounge music?(not the ultimate fit) A great atmosphere other than that! Some muttered chattering at the table nearby, noisy Queen St and a warm July evening. We had a candle on our table in a branded Remy Martin glass (not sure why). What else to wish for? Maybe a bit more attention from our host. He seemed very preoccupied with making espressos and lattes for other guests. We did have to call him a couple of times.
light spices, vanilla
After exploring the simple and well organized menu, we decided to go with their Quattro Stagioni to share - ma Cherie was enthusiastic as it is not a popular one outside of Italy. We wanted to get Italian beers, so asked for Peroni and Lozi. It turned out Lozi isn’t, so we instead wanted to ask the 666 Devil’s Pale Ale.
As we waited, we settle in and enjoyed the small and stylish interior. The light bulbs were lightly dancing in the air. It made us reflect and talk, while feeling awfully romantic.
Our beers didn’t take long to make it to our table. The Peroni is light, yeasty and malty with light bitterness near the end - nothing out of the ordinary. On the other hand, the Ontarian 666 Devil’s Pale Ale is dark, very hoppy and a bit sweet - on the intense side.
full bodied, ripe-tasting
It took maybe 10-15 minutes to get our food. Chef himself brought our order in, a very nice touch (although he could have spend few more minutes with us to make it perfect).
Our pizza was sizzling hot and fresh from the oven. The crust was thin and the dish was not overloaded with ingredients. It was lightly cut, so we had to repeat the lines. It was a perfect meal to share - slightly burned Italian ham, olives and mushrooms accented the simple crust dough just enough not to overshadow the cheese and artichokes. The ingredients were separated into four areas (hence the name) and we had a chance to experience the difference. Overall it was mouth-watering.
Ma Cherie couldn't help but share the main mushroom slice, even though I am no fan of them. We had to clarify what kind of mushroom was used, as we liked it so much. Turned out to be cremini. Jumping ahead, we made a cremini rizzotto the day after.
To top the meal off, we got panna cotta. Quite interesting although not as exciting as the pizza (which is good, it is a pizzeria after all). A traditionally made desert with some fresh berries on top. Hopefully made in-house, but it was hard to tell on the spot. Should have gotten an espresso as well in retrospect...
spicy, tobacco addition
If you are looking for an authentic pizza place - Lo Zingaro should at least be on your list. It is reasonably priced and very accessible. Being tucked in a bit, it is easy to miss. We hope more people will have a chance to enjoy its flower decorated tables by the window and artisan pizzas.
Overall, a close-to-heart Valpolicella.