Nicli Antica Pizzeria
By Michelle Hopkins

Not all pizza is made alike

It can be said without reservation that pizza is one of the most beloved foods on earth. This humble pie is not only one of Italy’s national treasures (the other of course being pasta), it is an international phenomenon.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to travel to Napoli to sample the real thing, you’re in luck. At Gastown's Nicli Antica Pizzeria you can bite into a slice of Neapolitan pizza that tastes so authentic, you’d swear you were sitting in a bustling piazza in the heart of Naples.

Nicli Antica Pizzeria’s owner Bill McCaig went to great lengths to make sure his pizza tasted like what he’d experienced in Italy; going so far as to have his popular eatery be the first certified Verace Napoletana pizza in Vancouver. (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) evaluates the authenticity of Neapolitan pizzas around the world.)

Bill explains: “Under the VPN rules, an authentic Neapolitan pizza should have characteristics such as hand-made dough, ingredients preferably from Campania, sliced cheese as opposed to hand-sliced, and pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven for 60-90 seconds.”

Originally from Ontario, Bill went from running the family’s waste management company to attending Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute, before heading to Naples to learn pizza-making from the masters.

“I could never find that perfect pizza, so I decided I can’t be the only one here craving Neapolitan pizza … that was the start,” says Bill.

It's simple, Nicli’s pizzas are delicious because we keep it uncomplicated and unpretentious. - Josh Gale, executive chef
Nicli Antica Pizzeria's executive chef Josh Gale uses only the freshest ingredients in all of its authentic Neapolitan pizzas. Photo courtesy of Nicli Antica Pizzeria

The soul of Italy

When it comes to the perfect Neapolitan pizza, it’s all about the base. So, says the chef behind Nicli’s award-winning pizzas, Josh Gale. Subjected to 90 seconds at 900F, in a handcrafted Italian wood-fired oven until Josh says: “the crust is a little charred and crisp on the outside, while the inside is soft and steamy.”

“It's simple, Nicli’s pizzas are delicious because we keep it uncomplicated and unpretentious,” says Josh, adding nearly everything is made from scratch.

The passionate foodie turned chef says his obsession for culinary art burgeoned after a snowboarding accident that saw him bedridden for two months. “I spent my days binge-watching food shows,” he quips. “Once I got better, I spent hundreds of dollars on food, cooking new recipes for family and friends.”

At Nicli’s, Josh sources the season’s freshest local ingredients to go along with Italy’s best: whole San Marzano tomatoes; barrel-aged 12-year-old Reggio Emilia San Giacomo balsamic vinegar; estate-grown, cold-pressed, Coratina extra-virgin olive oil, Puglia’s best burrata cheese and the finest Caputo flour.

It's no wonder pizza connoisseurs melt for Nicli’s signature Margherita, or its specialty pies like Diavola, Il Bastardo, highlighted by bacon jam, Salsiccia e Friarielli, showcased by handcrafted house-made ricotta and sausage.

Nicli Antica Pizzeria's interior is clean, bright and open, the perfect backdrop for its pizzas. Photo courtesy of Studio Media Inc.

Cool vibe to go with Naples best

The interior – a blend of old bricks and bright modern furnishing –  is the perfect backdrop to enjoy Nicli’s amazing pizza.

Though made using traditional Neapolitan methods, the pizzas at Nicli Antica Pizzeria are anything but typical. Since opening, Nicli has experienced line-ups of enthusiastic fans seemingly unbothered by the wait. It goes to show that if you are fastidious about maintaining the highest standards, people will come to enjoy great food.

“My vision was always to offer the highest-level Neapolitan pizza, ergo choosing this historic brick building in Gastown and an elevated wine selection from Italy,” notes Bill.

[Lead photo courtesy of Studio Media Inc.]

Nicli Antica Pizzeria has a well curated selection of Italian wines. Photo courtesy of Studio Media Inc.
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