Pizza Perfect at Magpie Pizzeria
Magpie is a cozy neighbourhood pizzeria where the soft warm glow of the wood-burning pizza oven infuses the atmospherically enhanced resto with charm and warmth.
Make it through the slight bottle-neck prone front entrance, massed with a jumble of parkas doing their part to further insulate the dim interior from winter drafts, and you're met with a constellation of candle lit tables close enough to eavesdrop on your neighbours' dinner party chatter. The constant pleasant din of conversation throughout the room however, makes it just as easy to tune out your surroundings into white noise and lose yourself in your own private world.
Always a fan of food with panache, we decided to get some oysters to start, and relished in tossing them back with eager flicks of our wrists in lieu of shots to honor my dining mate's recent birthday. There is an always-changing variety of said bivalves displayed high up on the boards above the back wall, so we went with the St. Simons from New Brunswick on the recommendation of the waitress, favoring the clean and bright taste, so deliciously and naturally salty. The Thrumcaps from Nova Scotia did well with the accompanying horseradish, giving us a nice stinging wake-up call to begin the meal, and the Lambertinis from British Columbia prettied up the trio with the dark crimped edges of their scalloped shells.
The Bianca pizza, which means white in Italian, is one I keep going back to. Not a fan of excessive sauciness on my pizzas or pastas, the dough itself is simply allowed to shine unobstructed alongside fresh cherry tomatoes and abundant slices of slightly-spicy capiccolo. The Goat cheese pizza has the wonderful sharp tang of the cheese to thank for cutting through the delectable saltiness of the pancetta, an Italian form of bacon whose natural saltiness is always intensified upon cooking. Other Italia-centric,carnivore-friendly options include topping pairings revolving around fennel sausage, prosciutto, or the three-cheese mini-meatballs, which come scattered cutely and uniformly across the surface of the pie. The pizza crust itself is lovely- at once doughy and crispy with a charcoaly taste. To mind our manners, we attempted to use knife and fork, but the woeful state of the dull butter knives we were provided as sufficient table-side tools meant we ultimately opted to fold up the slices with our hands, New York style, and stuff them into our eager mouths hoping to catch all the abundant toppings. Thank goodness for the dim lighting!
Peak over the wall and you can see the chef rolling out perky little balls of dough in a line, and a little surreptitious photo taking of the processes could land you involved in the kitchen staff's endeavors, as I was roped into helping nudge the pizzas further into the gaping firey opening of the wood-burning oven with a wooden paddle longer than I was tall, all in the name of catching some snaps of the pizza-makers hard at work on their craft!
In the end, it's the small quirky details that make Magpie so endearing. You can see into the walk-in fridges where giant hunks of meats and slabs of cheeses hang, as if in an old Italian grandmother's cantina. The Atm machine in the back is embellished with Old West-reminiscent detailing, the words "Johnny Cash(machine)" scrawled cheekily across the wall beside it, and The Man in Black's tunes emerging mysteriously from somewhere behind the bathrooms round out the pun.
It's the perfect place for a date or dinner with your parents. On one such occasion, my mom even proudly spotted Winn Butler of the Arcade Fire lounging relaxed and unconcerned by the tiny bar (hard to hide that towering frame, let alone in such an small, intimate space!) That's Magpie for you: warm, unpretentious, authentic. And they give you a handful of fruity candies with the bill. What's not to to like.
16 Maguire, right off St. Laurent
Tuesday- 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm
Wednesday & Thursday- Noon to 3:00 pm & 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm
Friday- Noon to 3:00 pm & 5:30 pm to 11:00 pm
Saturday- 5:30 pm to 11:00 pm
Sunday- 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm