Monday, June 11, 2012

Surprisingly Good Pizza at Urban Fare Shangri-La

Urban Fare on Urbanspoon With so many Neapolitan Pizza places popping up in Vancouver, I decided to go back to "normal" pizza and arranged a Meetup with Food Bloggers to try Urban Fare. Although it's "thin crust pizza made fresh in store", Neapolitan pizza purists will probably gag. But if you're not anal about getting your pizza flash-burned in a traditional wood-fired oven, it's surprisingly good!

At the moment, only the Shangri-La location has pizza, probably because they're the only ones equipped with a nice pizza oven in the luxuriously large store that has several counters and cafe seating all around the windowed perimeter. The pricey MARKET restaurant is upstairs, so you may be worried that Urban Fare will serve up similarly sized (read: "small") pizzas -- $16-$19 for an 8" specialty Neapolitan-styled crust pizza. Fortunately, that is not so. Even better, in the generally-considered-pricey grocery store that is Urban Fare, you get a reasonably good quantity of pizza for your peso!

First off, it's not what I would really consider "thin crust". Maybe it was just the particular batch we got, but I felt the crust was pretty standard. The edge was thin (compared to, say, Pizza Factory or Pizza Hut), however, which is important here because they serve up rectangular pizza.

A full size pizza is about 3 feet long and six inches wide (and yes, they do takeout in long rectangular boxes). That approximates to a 16" round pizza (which you'd be hard pressed to find -- although Godfather's Pizza has the 18" Jumbo) or two medium (12") round pizzas.

A whole pizza is about $19. By weight it's $2.19 per 100grams. Depending on the pizza and toppings, in practice this works out to be about 30% more than buying a whole pizza. Like pizza joints everywhere, they can mix pizza toppings on large pizzas. Our group got six slices of Primo Pesto, and a whole pizza divided into Mount Sicilian, Hawaiian Heatwave, and the WestEnder.

Except for the very different Primo Pesto, the pizza we got wasn't particularly out of the ordinary, but maybe because of the slightly jazzed up ingredients, tasted just a notch better than your average pizza joint. Considering the size and price, Urban Fare Shangri-La offers competitive value (two medium gourmet pizzas from Pizza Factory is about $20).

If you do go to Urban Fare for pizza, definitely give the Primo Pesto a go. It's different in many ways, not the least is the absence of tomato sauce as a base. Also, the sweet caramelized onions gives this pizza a different theme from your typical savory/salty pizza, which can start to all blend together flavour-wise.

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