Saturday, April 4, 2009

Birthday ups and downs at Ragazzi and Vi's for Pies

After our visit to Copper Pot a couple weeks prior to my birthday, Zed and I decided something simple was the answer for the day of. Zed was all for Blue Plate, but I was in for trying something new.

A regular at Sobey's (who comes for a glass of wine after his weekly shop) asked me where I thought the best pizza in town was. I don't leave downtown or Old Strathcona much, so I could only comment on the area, and so suggested Leva or Da Capo. In turn he recommended Tony's Pizza Palace or closer to the area in question, Ragazzi Bistro Italiano (formerly Pizza Boys). Ragazzi is the project of one of the brothers who started "Tony's," Vince, and his four sons. We both agreed to try each others recommendations, and in line with this, Zed and I headed to Ragazzi a couple Tuesdays ago for a birthday pizza.

I had mentioned to my recommender that my experience with Tony's last November left much to be desired - Zed and I both found that the pizza was fine, but the service was less than impressive, so I was hoping Ragazzi would improve on this end while keeping up with the pizza goodness. Upon arrival however, it didn't seem promising after an indifferent greeting at the door and a brisk seating.

Our server arrived later to take drink and entree orders, and while I felt for her as she seemed to be serving all the occupied tables in the place (with a little help from our greeter), she had the same "I don't really want to be here," attitude. Despite the service the menu looked promising, and in the end Zed went for spaghetti and meatballs and I for the house pizza that included bocconcini, mozzarella, capicolla ham, capers and tomato sauce on their thin crust.

The order took longer than we would have hoped, but was interrupted half way through with the greeter dropping off a basket of a couple slices of dry bread with an olive oil and balsamic dip... it was a nice gesture, but after a slice each we decided to let it be.

When our mains did arrive we were underwhelmed: the crust on my pizza didn't really look thin at all, and in the end it was a little to soft and doughy for me. The toppings didn't fare any better, and were too heavy and soggy for my liking. Zed's spaghetti was all about the sauce and "Italian style" meatballs, and sadly he reported that both were just average.

House Pizza

Spaghetti with Italian Style Meatballs

Although the menu recommended homemade tiramisu for dessert, the experience with service and our mains led to a decision to opt out and head to another friend's recommendation - Vi's for Pies. Both Zed and I had been wanting to try Vi's for awhile, but since it is a bit out of the way we had not yet made it... this was the night.

We were greeted by a display case full of yummy looking cakes and pies and a really friendly server. I was immediately torn between a key lime pie and carrot cake, and in the end I chose a slice of the latter along with a cup of Earl Grey. Zed went for a latte and a couple giant gingersnap cookies.

Jumbo Gingersnap cookies

Vi's Carrot Cake

It was slightly chilly that evening and we were glad to walk into the newer part of the building to find vaulted ceilings and a cozy fire with a vacant table right in front. The carrot cake brought out by the server was dense and moist, full of cinnamon and walnuts. My only complaint would have been with the icing... I like a really tangy cream cheese icing with carrot cake, and this was slightly sweet for me. Zed's cookies were a good way to finish the evening after his spaghetti mishap. I'm not sure where his love of gingersnaps came from, but he doesn't seem to pass up the opportunity to eat them if available... the jumbo sized ones at Vi's were particularly good.

While I would have liked my entire birthday evening to be full of good food I'm glad we tried something new. This past weekend we went to Da Capo to renew our faith in pizza - after sharing a crispy, ultra thin crust pizza with bocconcini, basil, mushrooms and prosciutto, I'm glad it's back.


Isabelle said...

Marianne, do you work at Sobey's downtown? I go in there all the time!

I just went to Vi's for Pies for the first time a few weeks ago with a friend. I really liked it. I had the lemon-poppyseed cake which was yummy, but I seriously wanted to try almost everything in the case! Those ginger cookies look amazing. I'm curious about their regular food options as well.

Marianne and Zed said...

Vi's was awesome! We're so going to head back this summer to work our way through some of the case.

I work at the College Plaza Sobey's... we don't carry the same stuff as the downtown one, but if you get a chance stop by... I usually work Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights.