In my mind, Italian restaurants can be put into one of two categories.
The former are loud suburban varieties, with checkered tablecloths and at least one wall depicting touristic Italian scenery. The second are one-year anniversary type destinations in oak tones, dimly lit by flickering flames, yet still humble and welcoming with their perfectly imperfect terracotta tiles and brickwork.
Pizzaca Pizzeria & Bar is an outlier. The fresh-faced restaurant is the sister store to the 15-year-old café of the same name, both owned by the Bizzaca family.
Pizzaca stands out with its starchy white interior and unchanging customers who roar and cack about their day’s work on the terrace (completely not conducive to wholesome family dinners or intimate evenings). My choice to sit outside and away from the whistles regarding HR was no better as the store is located on a slope so there was an embarrassing struggle not to slip and collide with my sister next to me.
When the signature spaghettini ($32) was served, my moans were quieted. Hiding in the pasta (we redeemed GF tubes for an extra $3.50) were generous chunks of crab, drenched in a sweet chili olive oil and no-na-sized buttery batter.
The vego pizza ($27.50) was made with a deliciously woody dough and is a family recipe that has been tweaked for more than a decade, according to daughter Kara Bizzaca. It also featured a dense layer of cheese that pulled and unrolled like a tasty ball of yarn.
Unfortunately, our second vegan item, the Mushroom Arancini ($15.50), broke Pizzaca’s winning streak. It was like crunching on concrete and exposing a plastic pungent interior that took me back to the days when Maccas made truffle mayo fries.
The other entree, the calamari ($22.50) was very good – it was fresh but sparse – looking like a minimalist art exhibit, rather than the juicy kraken plates I’m used to.
The drinks were also gallery worthy. The Rosmarino mocktail ($12) was a slim glass filled with flowery dew — not too sweet and flecked with deep periwinkle. Aperol Spritz ($16) is still my favorite, and this one was a runny amber candy with a slight bitterness, the ultimate dinner companion.
Pizzaca’s dessert fridge had plenty of promising options, but we landed on the gluten-free creme brulee ($15) and the Biscoff lotus cheesecake ($15).
Unfortunately the creme brulee had a tragically thin layer of caramel and was served with what I assume was a compote, except instead of being cooked it was just thawed mixed berries. The cheesecake was better; it was a bit muddy as far as unbaking goes, but overall struck a good balance between the milky cheese layer and its crumbly bread-like base.
All in all, Pizzaca has a handful of winners for an exuberant evening, but unless I triple my usual Aperol intake, this is to go in the future.
Pizzaca Pizzeria & Bar
2/168 Scarborough Beach Road, Scarborough
9341 1288, pizzaca.com
Excellent pizza and pasta but extremely noisy; it might be a good vibe for some, but not for me.