This cheerfully French and jam-packed Gatineau restaurant is mostly about pizza and wine. You learn this as soon as you are seated at a small pub-table and presented with a thick wine list and a thin menu, dense with pizza options.
But Piz’za-za is also about lemon pie, and you may not be aware of that until you’ve filled up on pizza and wine. Which would be a shame.
Who’d have thought to save room for pie in a pizza joint? Somewhere in Piz’za-za’s open kitchen of pizza tossers is an accomplished baker. The lemon pie is of true homemade goodness: light on the theatrics of puddles, drizzles and kiwi garnishes, served up wide, dense and rindy, with a blob of real whipped cream.
Then again, who’d have thought there’d be a wine list of affordable discoveries, thoughtfully assembled and reasonably priced in such a place? It includes a lengthy house list, plus a page of treats assembled by a visiting sommelier (“Les Vins Invités”).
While you inspect the list you might want to start with the house antipasti. It is a sizeable and satisfying plate of nibbles (and a steal at $7.75) prettily packed with cheese and Italian cold cuts, hard cooked eggs, marinated artichokes and olives, feta, fruit and a Greek salad.
The pizza is good. It would be great if the oven were wood-fired, rather than gas fired – the way steak is elevated when cooked over charcoal – but the thin crust is chewy and yeasty, the sauce tasty, the herbs fresh and the toppings, for the most part, sensible. I like the Napolitaine, with Roma tomatoes and wide leaves of basil. Fine too is the “escargot forestiers,” with fat, soft escargots and roasted mushrooms, both drenched in garlic. The four-cheese (provolone, chevre, brie and parmesan) is rich and pungent, and the “inferno” is indeed fiery with Merguez sausage and jalapeno peppers igniting the shell, balanced with capers, red onion and docile mozzarella cheese.
There are big salads to go along with the pizza pies, served in tall, deep bowls and topped with roasted vegetables, or smoked trout, or warm seafood, or crisp green vegetables – asparagus, green beans, scallions. The dressings taste homemade and are perfectly pleasant, but they are drizzled sparingly on top of the deep mounds and we find the perfectly pleasant dressing fails to reach the greens beneath.
There is a trio of pasta dishes, including a meaty lasagna, baked in its own dish, and totally agreeable.
Desserts, as you may have gathered, are another strength. Did I mention the lemon pie?
They also have an attractive upstairs room, for overflow and private functions.