Pizzeria Barbarella

Restaurant: Pizzeria Barbarella
Cuisine: Italian/Pizza
Last visited: January 10, 2012
Location: Vancouver, BC (Fairview)
Address: 654 East Broadway
Train: VCC Skytrain
Price Range: $10-20

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6: FMF Must Try!

Food: 4
Service: 2
Ambiance: 2
Overall: 3.5
Additional comments:

  • Neapolitan meets New York style
  • Local/organic ingredients
  • Hand tossed pizza
  • Wood burning oven
  • Very casual
  • Rather bare atmosphere
  • Sit down service
  • Reasonably priced
  • Family friendly
  • Previous owner of Ah-Beetz Pizza (Abbotsford)
  • Accepts Visa/MC
  • Dine In/Take out
  • Tuesday – Sunday: 5pm-10pm

**Recommendations: Fungo Portobello Gratinato, Gnocchi Alla Cardinale, Ossobuco Classico

Oh dear. I kind of feel bad for the little guys like Elma’s Kitchen 2 for 1 Pizza & Salad Bar right next door to the newly opened Pizzeria Barbarella.

Pizza proves to be big business in Vancouver. I’m not talking about 2 for 1 pizza, I’m talking about real authentic Napoletana pizza. With a pizza place popping up every 3 months, I’m not sure how many more the market can sustain. But I guess for now the more the merrier, especially if it can only get better.

It’s almost getting to the point where it’s all good when you compare the creme de la creme of pizza. From what I’ve tried, that would include Nicli Antica Pizzeria, Pizzeria Farina, and Verace Pizzeria Napoletana and Enoteca, and maybe The BiBo (even though I personally wasn’t as keen). Regardless, the competition is tight. There are also a handful more I haven’t tried, but I’m satisfied with what I’ve tried so far, and I probably prefer them in the order I just listed too. The newcomer is Pizzeria Barbarella and I’d squeeze it in tightly between Pizzeria Farina and Verace Pizzeria Napoletana and Enoteca. The differences are quite marginal, but it can compete with the big boys, or the so called “best pizzas in the city”.

Pizzeria Barbarella is the newest pizzeria to hit Vancouver, but it’s not the newest to hit the Metro Vancouver pizza scene. The owner is actually the previous owner of Ah-Beetz Pizza which was located in Abbotsford.

For the last few years it was known as the only place in Vancouver to get authentic New York style pizza, and now he’s finally sold it and moved his pizza business to the big city! Of course big city means bigger competition. If it moved here before the pizza scene exploded last year, it would still be the front runner, but since great authentic Neapolitan style pizza isn’t as hard to find in Vancouver anymore, people can be pickier with the many options.

I rarely go to a restaurant when it first opens. Personally I like to give at least 4-5 weeks before I visit so that the menu, service and prices settle down to the market demands. However on this occasion it was somewhat unavoidable, so together with Sherman I checked it out on opening day. I do expect things to change with time, and it’s not a place for ambiance, but so far it is off to a solid start.

Pizzeria Barbarella specializes in hand tossed, wood fired oven pizza made with fresh and local ingredients you can taste. The pizza seemed like a combination of an authentic Neapolitan style pizza meets a New York style pizza.

It was much smaller than a New York style pie (see my post on Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in New York for reference), and more along the size of a Neapolitan style pizza. The crust was thin, crispy around the edges, soft and tender in the centre, but not soggy either (Neapolitan type), but the toppings were a bit heavier, not all from Italy, and it was served pre-cut (New York type). My only issues were that the crusts were a bit inconsistent and at times the pizzas were a bit salty, and I already have a high tolerance for salt. Other than that, the price was right for what you get and it’s nothing pretentious, but still good quality and worth revisiting.

On the table:

**Margherita4.5/6 (Very good)

  • Tomato, fior di latte, aged mozzarella, basil, parmigiano reggiano and extra virgin olive oil $12
  • It’s the staple. The Margherita is the most simple pizza, but it’s the one that tells all. You can’t hide anything.
  • It was a hybrid of a Neapolitan style pizza and a New York style pizza.
  • The crust and size was closer to a Neapolitan style pizza, but the amount and origin of toppings was closer to a New York style pie.
  • It was heavier with the toppings which made it a bit saltier and the tomato sauce was thin, but not quite translucent to the crust.
  • It was quite cheesy, salty and stringy and the three kinds of cheeses were generous as opposed to the standard two kinds of cheese for a margherita.
  • The tomato sauce was fresh and a bit acidic, but I wouldn’t mind it a bit less salty if there were already so many cheeses and the crust was already salted.
  • I did appreciate the generous amount of basil leaves, however traditional Neapolitan pizzas will usually have 3 leaves in the centre and that’s the authentic style.
  • Personally I prefer a basil flavour throughout the pizza, so I liked this. It was also put on after the baking, which is how it should be done.
  • There was freshly grated parmesan and some extra virgin olive oil to finish off the pizza.
  • Although I normally like the olive oil addition, this one didn’t really need it since the cheeses had released so much oil on their own.
  • It wasn’t a greasy pizza, but the natural oils were very present, yet not overwhelming.

  • It was a thin crust with a tender soft centre and it was nice and foldable with crispy edges and a charcoal crust.
  • The crust wasn’t particularly salty, but it was salted and it was quite thick and chewy, but not tiresome to chew until it got cold (which is natural).
  • I kind of wish there was more consistent blistering and leoparding around the edges of the crust too.
  • Technically the pizza should be foldable if it was “authentic Neapolitan”, but it wasn’t although still very good.

The leoparding on the bottom was visibly there, but it wasn’t blistering and I couldn’t taste the charcoal flavour I always look for. Again, at times the crusts were baked a bit inconsistent (ovens can have hot spots), but generally I enjoyed them.

Amatriciana4/6 (Very good)

  • Tomato, fior di latte, aged mozzarella, house smoked pancetta, red onions, fresh garlic, chili flakes, parmigiano reggiano and extra virgin olive oil $16
  • Again, it was a hybrid of a Neapolitan style pizza and a New York style pizza.
  • The crust and size was closer to a Neapolitan style pizza, but the amount and origin of toppings was closer to a New York style pie.
  • To read more about the crust see the Margherita crust section, but this one was slightly thicker so I’m not sure if it’s consistent.
  • This one was perhaps the most New York in style because it had the heaviest toppings and it weighed down the pizza a bit. However it would make most diners feel like they got their money’s worth.
  • The toppings ended up being more of a focus than the crust, and usually that’s the best part, but when it comes to high quality pizzas like these, the crust plays an equally or even more important role.
  • There were nice spicy onions, thick salty cuts of pancetta and a little chili for some heat, but it wasn’t really spicy.

**Funghi4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • Bechamella, fontina, oven roasted cremini mushrooms, parmigiano reggiano and white truffle oil $17
  • Again, it was a hybrid of a Neapolitan style pizza and a New York style pizza.
  • The crust and size was closer to a Neapolitan style pizza, but the amount and origin of toppings was closer to a New York style pie.
  • To read more about the crust see the Margherita crust section.
  • I love bechamel and mushrooms, and fontina, parm and truffle oil… okay so basically I love all the ingredients on this pizza a lot, so naturally I’m going to gravitate towards it.
  • This one was perhaps the saltiest, but I still loved it and nobody else that I’m aware of is making pizza with bechamella right now.
  • Bachamella or bechamel is pretty much one of my favourite sauces of all time. It’s a creamy white sauce made with flour, butter and cream and it’s just so velvety smooth and silky like a pommes puree.
  • It was a super creamy and rich pizza with lots of salty, nutty, buttery and mushroomy flavours and it was almost the “comfort food” pizza.
  • It wasn’t particularly strong with truffle oil, but it was still heavy with mushroom flavour.
  • It wasn’t garlicky, which might have been nice so I might add that topping next time.

Bianco Rosa 4/6 (Very good)

  • Red onions, rosemary, pistachios, parmigiano reggiano and extra virgin olive oil $14
  • Again, it was a hybrid of a Neapolitan style pizza and a New York style pizza.
  • The crust and size was closer to a Neapolitan style pizza, but the amount and origin of toppings was closer to a New York style pie.
  • To read more about the crust see the Margherita crust section.
  • This one had the least leoparding around the edges, but could have benefited with having the most since it was almost all about the crust as a Bianco.
  • I needed to try the Bianco and I’m a huge fan of pistachios and nuts so I was excited about this one.
  • It was definitely the drier pizza of the four, but I could taste everything on it although the toppings came across a bit bittier adding to the dry quality.
  • It wasn’t a dry pizza, but since there’s no tomato sauce, minimal cheese and nuts, it’s naturally drier.
  • It was garlicky and herby with a rosemary finish in the nose and I could taste its aromatics throughout the pizza.
  • The thin shavings of crunchy red onions were the dominant flavour and they were sweet, but not yet caramelized or melted in texture. They were still crunchy and cooked during the baking process rather than pre-caramelized and baked.
  • There was a generous amount of toasted unsalted pistachios and I loved that. The more pistachios the better! And none of them were burnt.
  • The crust really stood out more on this one and it was the lightest in flavours.
  • Some may find it a bit boring or dry (perhaps more olive oil to finish would do it), but I enjoyed it.


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  • Hello,
    judging from the pictures the crusts gives me the impression of being a bit doughy (sp) and chewy…. such a crust wouldn’t get good reviews back home.
    I have little bone to pick about the “original” Neopolitan Margherita which, as far as I can remember from the last time I had one IN ITALY, sports only one kind of cheese: mozzarella , non necessarely buffalo mozz..as everybody across the Atlantic want us to believe.
    Keep up the great job.
    Thank you for the cool reviews and pics.
    Emilio ; )

  • Mijune says:

    @Emilio – thank you for your insightful comments and observations. When you say “doughy” are you referring to the edges of the crust? How do you feel about the marghertia’s with fior di latte? I’ve been to Italy before as well, but the same ingredients are hard to get so fresh in Vancouver so I guess we’re not doing too bad huh? I really value your comment and appreciate you taking the time to write!

  • Linda says:

    ahhh, i’m glad the owner of ah beetz finally made the move to vancouver.. don’t know how else i would’ve gotten his delish pizzas 🙂 i love how everything is fresh and made to order.. nomnomnom

  • Mijune says:

    @Linda – yay! I have to go back and re-try them because apparently it’s even better now!

  • Hi, sorry I’m late wiuth my reply but connection is spotty at the moment.
    By doughy , yes, I refer to the edge of the pizza and also at the overall feel. Don’t forget that the crust, back home,is “only” a medium for the toppings.
    On the toppings, also, fior di latte is the “other”option back home as well.
    In conclusion, for margherita,: the best mozarella you can put your hands on, good tomato sauce, a tad of basil, oil. No more, no less.
    Ciao ; )
    PS Really enjoy reading your reviews.

  • harley says:

    hi mijune. mmmmhhh, those pictures look really good, gotta check it out. was just wondering if you’ve ever been to ragazzi pizza? it’s my favorite pizza joint, doesn’t get all the attention nicli (which i hated, very pretentious and burnt crust, i know they say it’s supposed to be charred but ours was burnt and our funghi was so soggy we couldn’t even pick it up), farina and the rest but it’s pretty authentic. anyways, nice pics…always enjoy reading your reviews. ciao!

  • Mijune says:

    @harley – yikes! You might have just hit Nicli on a bad night! That “pretentious” part I can understand, but the pizza is my favourite there so far. No I haven’t been to ragazzi, but now I want to! Thanks for the rec! I’ll put it on my list! And thank you for the comment! I really appreciate that! Oh and the pics I had some help with 🙂

  • LotusRapper says:

    FINALLY made it to Barbarella tonight with the fam 🙂 Walked in, 1/2 full resto …. perfect ! Got seated, told of the two specials of the evening. For our appy we got the antipasti platter. All good. For pizzas we ordered first of the two specials, forget the name of it, but has strips of crispy bacon & brussel sprouts (who would have thunk ???). Lurvely.

    Second pizza was from the menu, the salsiccia. Everything was good, but I would have preferred a more robust and bold sausage, the fennel sausage was very mild on this one.

    Had a great meal, everyone was happy. Would definitely come back.

  • Mijune says:

    @LR – I need to go back! I heard it’s even better and that’s what the owner told me too! I’m excited!

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