Tasting gourmet pizza across the National Capital Region: Geneviève Brisson visits La Dolce Vita

Geneviève Brisson is a master’s student in communication at the University of Ottawa, working on a thesis on gastronomic tourism. An Ottawa native, she has an appetite for discovering everything the National Capital Region has to offer, especially its burgeoning food scene.

La Dolce Vita (180 Preston St.)

A warm Tuesday evening at the beginning of July simply called out for a lingering dinner on a patio. And so, my exploration of gourmet pizza restaurants continued with a visit to La Dolce Vita in Little Italy.

We called ahead to make sure that their patio was in fact open, and were assured that it was and that there was plenty of room. Upon our arrival at the restaurant, my boyfriend and I thus settled at a table outside. The patio felt a bit more intimate and private than your average spot, being located below street level.

La Dolce Vita (180 Preston Street, 613-233-6239) offers an impressive selection of pizzas. You can choose from 25 different gourmet pizzas which come in three sizes: the small ones ranging in price from about $15 to $17, the medium ones from $21 to $26, and the large ones from $25 to $29. Celiacs should note that all pizzas can be made gluten-free upon request, at an extra charge. The menu also has a good assortment of appetizers, other typical Italian fare like pasta and calzones for main courses, as well as desserts.

To start off our meal, we had a salad of chickpeas, romaine lettuce, bruschetta tomatoes, red onions and feta cheese with an olive oil and lemon dressing. It was fresh and flavourful, and had a wonderfully crispy texture. Plus, I found the feta cheese especially pleasing – creamy without being overly salty.

Chickpea salad

Now on to the pizza! We opted for a large with half the verdi (lamb, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese and mozzarella cheese) and half the cinque formaggi (hazelnut pesto, fresh tomatoes, red onions, mushrooms and five types of cheese). Note that choosing a half/half pizza will set you back a negligible $3. The verdi had caught our eye with the rare topping of lamb, and the pizza itself had a good, robust mix of flavours. As for the cinque formaggi, the freshness of the tomatoes and red onions nicely balanced out the appropriately cheesy pizza. But for me, the real standout was the hazelnut pesto: nutty, crunchy and deeply flavourful! Also, both types of pizzas had a generous helping of toppings.

Half Verdi (top) and half Cinque Formaggi (bottom) pizza

The pizza crust was moist, with a nicely crisp bottom. However, it was thicker than I was expecting – it seemed like an Old World crust trying to conform to the perceived New World preference for thick crusts. As a result, it was pretty filling. A few pizzas on the menu were explicitly listed as thin crust, so I would recommend you to choose among those ones or ask to have your pizza made with a thin crust, if you favour slimmer crusts.

To keep hydrated on this warm evening, my boyfriend opted for a German beer on tap, a dark Warsteiner, while I had a glass of the house red wine, a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. This medium-bodied wine was pleasing and easy drinking.

Our meal ended with the homemade tiramisu. It was light in texture, but also creamy and decadent, and tasted of good espresso and rum. Simply fabulous!

Homemade tiramisu

The service was friendly and attentive to our needs: Sensing that we were in no hurry that evening, they let us linger and go at our own pace.

La Dolce Vita is a little gem in Little Italy that has a wide selection of gourmet pizzas and caters to people with gluten sensitivity. The restaurant also does takeout and delivery.

All in all, our evening at La Dolce Vita was just that: pleasant and sweet.

Yum! Do you have a pizza place suggestion for Geneviève? Leave a comment below!