This Montcalm Avenue pizzeria was a local favourite and a staple of the Hull neighbourhood since 1968 until it was completely destroyed by fire almost two years ago. Recently it reopened and the rebuilt space is airy and casual, a considerable update from Naples Pizza’s original look. The facade is sleek and modern, and large windows keep the space bright. The open kitchen features prominently in the design, as it’s visible from almost every seat in the restaurant.
Neopolitan pizza is a traditional specialty guaranteed product in Europe (meaning it is designated as having a special character with regard to its raw materials) that originates from the region around Naples, Italy. This is not what’s served at Naples Pizza, as the pizzeria’s name may suggest. But their pizza is very tasty regardless. The crust is thick and doughy and has a nice crunchy exterior, and the toppings are generous. Plus there’s no skimping on cheese here. Though extra-cheesy, the pizzas were not greasy, and the mozzarella was delightfully stringy. All pizzas feature a sweet homemade tomato sauce.
Diners can keep their pizzas plain, pick their toppings, or choose from eight combinations on the menu. We started with the Naples Special: pepperoni, bacon, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions, as well as the Vegetarian, with ample green olives, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers. On another visit, we went Hawaiian by way of Montreal: the Smoked Pine pizza paired the sweet, tropical pungency of pineapple with an entire layer of smoked meat – not little cubes of meat as on the traditional Hawaiian – tucked under the cheese. This was a great variation on a Canadian classic.
A small pizza ($11-$16) arrives in four slices, and is the size of a large dinner plate, while medium and large pizzas arrive on nostalgic elevated pizza platters ($18-26).
The name of the pizzeria is perhaps a sign you should stick to the pizza. The Italian Poutine was a fun snack — the house meat sauce and stringy mozzarella cheese were quite good on their own — but the fries were a bit limp. Spaghetti with meat sauce and the cannelloni were both rather bland, which might be a plus if you’re dining with young, picky eaters. And the deep-fried shrimp and scallops tasted, well, deep fried. Nothing was offensive by any means, but it wasn’t worth writing about to Nonna either. All pastas and pizzas can be made gluten free for an extra four dollars, although I can’t speak to how close the crust came to flour-based pizza dough. I’ll leave that for another visit.
Though the service was a tad spotty when the dining room was packed, it was also very friendly. Unfortunately, Naples Pizza does not take reservations and, as such, there’s a bit of a wait for a table during peak lunch or dinner hours. If you’re not keen on waiting, takeout is available.
Those who were eagerly awaiting Naples Pizza’s reopening will be happy to see their local back in business, slinging tasty pies.
$11-16 for a small pizza; $18-26 for large
Open Monday and Tuesday for lunch and dinner 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to midnight
70 Rue Montcalm, Gatineau, (819) 777-8457