Il Castello Pizzeria is just what North Vancouver needed: a proper restaurant serving authentic, Italian-style pizzas with a glass of wine.
My girlfriend Ali and I dropped by Il Castello with our friend Maggie, who just so happened to be familiar with the spot. We were pleasantly greeted by a complimentary bowl of garlic salted popcorn. Our meal kicked off with a crispy polenta bruschetta, topped with fresh tomato and Parmesan.
Shak: Served in threes, the polenta bruschetta was a nice twist on the traditional bruschetta. I loved the concept and flavours, but would argue that it’s heavy on the lemon (a sentiment echoed for their Caesar salad)
Maggie: What a fun and innovative take on bruschetta! The polenta was golden brown and fried to perfection. The tomatoes had just the right amount of acidity and sweetness; top it off with some basil and Parmesan and it was a stellar starter.
Shak’s Rating: 3.5/5 — Maggie’s Rating: 4/5
We also split the aforementioned Caeser salad: made with romaine hearts, house cured bacon and a lemon-pepper Parmesan.
Shak: I complained less than my two food-buddies, but that’s not to say it was a particular great Caesar salad. The bacon was wonderful, but the salad was overwhelming lemony and progressively harder to eat.
Maggie: You usually can’t go wrong with a Caesar salad. Unfortunately, I found this one was way too lemony and heavily overdressed. The house cured bacon was a nice touch though!
Shak’s Rating: 2.5/5 — Maggie’s Rating: 2/5
Unable to wait any longer, we settled on two pizzas from their list of 12″ pies. First was Maggie’s classic Margherita, topped with added ham.
Shak: A classic Italian pizza done right! The crust is nice and light, the toppings spread evenly and the sauce provides a wonderful foundation. It doesn’t quite compare to some of the slices I’ve had abroad, but I’m craving to comeback to Il Castello’s.
Maggie: This was my favourite pizza of the night. So simple, yet so delicious! My only problem with this dish was how the toppings fell off and I was left with just tomato sauce after a couple bites.
Shak’s Rating: 4/5 — Maggie’s Rating: 3/5
It may become a habit on this blog, but I have an insatiable appetite for prosciutto. As such, I ordered the restaurant’s take on prosciutto pizza: with a Ricotta base and topped with cherry tomatoes and arugula.
Shak: The presentation on this pizza was wonderful, the colours really popped. I really enjoyed the pizza, but the ricotta sauce was too tame. I actually much prefer the Alfredo base used at delivery pizza joints like Fresh Slice.
Maggie: The ricotta sauce was so thick it left a weird texture in my mouth. I think it would’ve worked better had they used a cream sauce with ricotta cheese on top. The arugula topping was nice though, lightly dressed and cut through the thickness of the base.
Shak’s Rating: 3.5/5 — Maggie’s Rating: 2/5
So what about the X-factors? Food may be a restaurants selling point, but when you’re out with friends you’ll want to consider the joint’s atmosphere.
THE VIBE: (Ambience + Service)
Shak: I really enjoyed Il Castello’s design. The room is spacious, the decor doesn’t take itself too seriously and you can clearly see the chef’s at work. The servers were friendly and my only complaint would be how noisy it gets.
Maggie: The restaurant is nice for intimate gatherings, but it can get VERY loud. I had to yell at times so Shak could hear me. The service was nothing special and our pizzas took a long time. The complimentary garlic salted popcorn was the night’s real winner.
Shak’s Rating: 4/5 — Maggie’s Rating: 3/5
Vancouver’s a pricey city to live in, you won’t always want to break the bank to have a nice meal with your homies. So how affordable is Il Castello Pizzeria?
BANG FOR YOUR BUCK:
Shak: The menu is as expected for a place like this. $14 will get you the classic Margherita, all the way up to $18 for more gourmet pizzas. Worth the occasional outing with friends, but a bit much for your weekly get together.
Maggie: This place is quite expensive. If Italian pizza isn’t one of your favourites, you might be a little disappointed when you leave.
Shak’s Rating: 3/5 — Maggie’s Rating: 2/5
Il Castello Pizzeria is the perfect place for a pizza-experience head and shoulders above the Fresh Slice’s and Pizza Garden’s of North Vancouver. There are so many appetising options that you’ll want to come back a second time.