Friday, May 24, 2024

Ottawa deep dish pizza giving Chicago a run for its money

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In March, Vittorio’s Pizza House competed at the World Pizza Expo in Las Vegas and to Colaiacovo’s surprise, he placed top 20. His white pizza with mozzarella, herb, and ricotta, finished with pecorino Romano and topped with spinach, Kalamata olives, red onions and truffle oil won praise from the judges in the non-traditional pan division.


“My friends and family have been eating it and say you have to sell it, but I mainly went to see where my pizza stands against people in the industry,” he said. “So that was the main reason I went and to compete this year.”


Colaiacovo’s desire to compete was sparked in 2022 when he visited the annual expo and saw the level of talent. There, he attended pizza seminars, classes and networked with pizzeria owners from around the world. Ever since, he’s been working on perfecting his recipe and ability to make the award-winning pie even in less than ideal circumstances.


“I had to make the dough in hotel room and I was really worried it wouldn’t turn out the way I did it here,” he said. Luckily, the pizza turned out exactly the same, though Colaiacovo said it helped that he brought all of his own ingredients to make the dough and the pizza.


Colaiacovo’s passion for pizza pays homage to his Italian heritage. He says after a trip to Italy a few years ago, he realized how much he enjoys the simplicity of pizza and the way it brings people together.


“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s just simple ingredients like flour, water, yeast and salt but it is just so cool that you can put these ingredients together and it becomes a totally different product.”


The time spent in the kitchen making pizza really ramped up as a way to drum up businesses for his bed and breakfast. Century Bed and Breakfast in Ottawa’s Sandy Hill neighbourhood was struggling during the pandemic, so Colaiacovo started making breakfast pizza for his guests.


Perfecting the recipes took a lot of trial and error.


“It took a long time actually,” he said. “When I was learning how to make it, I was eating pizza pretty well every day for many months, so I did gain about 40 pounds.”


For now, Vittorio’s Pizza House is only open for business for a Saturday night pizza experience. The rest of the week, Colaiacovo is fully dedicated to his guests at his bed and breakfast.


But one day, Colaiacovo says he would consider opening a restaurant or a pizzeria on a more permanent and full-time basis.


“Maybe in the future. It’s definitely something to think about,” he said. “Right now I am just trying to keep up with the demand and keep it simple for a bit.”


Colaiacovo hopes to go back to Las Vegas next year, and this time, he may consider entering new recipes.


“It was a bit overwhelming to see all these people in the industry and I’m just an outsider for now, but I’m going to keep practicing,” he said.

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